Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 219

The Turkish are coming, the Turkish are coming!

In our last installment, the Bush administration was begging Turkey to send troops to Iraq, a prospect of no small concern to the Kurds, who have ample reason to fear Turkey’s intentions. Turks don’t like having a Kurdish enclave on their country’s southern border, and there’s little reason to believe a Turkish troop contingent in Iraq would behave itself. Or rather, Chatterbox should say, a bigger Turkish troop contingent; 4,000 Turkish troops are already in Iraqi Kurdistan and refuse to leave. Three months ago, our soldiers in Iraq arrested a Turkish special forces unit that reportedly planned to assassinate the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk. And now we’re inviting Turkish troops in? Coalition forces desperately need additional help from foreign governments, but the idea is to reduce the level of ethnic violence and anarchy—not increase it.

Yesterday the Turkish parliament approved the deployment of 10,000 troops into Iraq, over the strong objection of the Iraqi Governing Council, which allegedly governs Iraq. (“[W]e have not seen any formal Governing Council statement or communiqué regarding the Turkish decision,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said unhelpfully.) Although it’s widely presumed that Turkish troops will bypass Iraqi Kurdistan and deploy in Sunni-dominated central Iraq, that presumption is not shared by the Turkish government. According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul assured the other Cabinet ministers that Turkey will act jointly with the United States to clear out from Northern Iraq members of the insurgent PKK, who have sought for many years to create a Kurdish state in southern Turkey. (The leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan does not condone the PKK’s activities.) That could stir up a hornet’s nest. Even if Turkish troops aren’t permitted to chase down the PKK, how are the Turkish troops supposed to get to central Iraq without traveling through Iraqi Kurdistan?

The State Department’s Boucher, asked today whether Turkish troops would be deployed to Kurdish areas, answered noncommittally. At the White House, press spokesman Scott McClellan wouldn’t say anything beyond, “We’ll be working with Turkish officials on the details of their decision.” This is no way to treat the only ethnic group that welcomed American troops into Iraq with open arms.

Kurd Sellout Watch Archive:
July 27, 2003: Day 147
July 23, 2003: Day 143
May 16, 2003: Day 75
May 1, 2003: Day 60
April 25, 2003: Day 54
April 23, 2003: Day 52
April 18, 2003: Day 47
April 10, 2003: Day 39
April 3, 2003: Day 32
March 26, 2003: Day 24
March 25, 2003: Day 23
March 23, 2003: Day 21
March 21, 2003: Day 19
March 20, 2003: Day 18
March 17, 2003: Day 15
March 14, 2003: Day 12
March 11, 2003: Day 9
March 6, 2003: Day 4
March 4, 2003: Day 2
March 3, 2003: “How Screwed Are the Kurds?”