Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 443

Are the Turks coming around?

An oft-repeated argument against partitioning Iraq is that Turkey would never tolerate the establishment of a Kurdish state on its southern border, because it fears incitement of its own Kurdish population. But a news article in the May 19 Wall Street Journal by Hugh Pope and Bill Spindle suggests that this might no longer be so. The Turks and the Kurds have been brought closer together, Pope and Spindle report, by fear of the unstable Sunni and Shiite regions to the south:

Turkish officials privately confirm that a discussion has begun about whether to offer protection to the Iraqi Kurds as a policy to keep refugees and other troubles away from Turkey’s border if the U.S. can’t control Iraq. “Nothing has been decided yet, and it’s not what we want. We can’t give up on the hope of Iraq’s unity. If you start playing with borders, there’ll be no end to it,” said one Turkish official. Still, a Turkish protectorate “could result in practice. It could be a kind of insurance policy.”

What about the Turkomans, whose fate in a Kurd-dominated state used to worry Turkish officials? “Ankara has let the Turkoman go somewhat,” Gareth Stansfield, a Middle East expert at Britain’s Exeter University, told Pope and Spindle. “The Turkomans are in a sorry state politically, and their militia is poor and run down.” Stansfield is coauthor, with Liam Anderson, of a persuasive new pro-partition book titled The Future of Iraq.

It’s all but certain that if Turkish troops had been allowed into Iraq, as the Bush administration twice contemplated, this warming of relations between Turks and Kurds would not now be happening. The Turks would have provoked or been provoked by the Kurds, and Kurdistan would have become yet another flashpoint in Iraq. Hard as it may be to imagine, the postwar occupation could have gone worse than it has. But this is one bullet we managed to dodge.

Kurd Sellout Watch Archive:
April 27, 2004: Day 421
Feb. 20, 2004: Day 355
Jan. 6, 2004: Day 310
Nov. 8, 2003: Day 251
Oct. 24, 2003: Day 236
Oct. 20, 2003: Day 232
Oct. 7, 2003: Day 219
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?”