Turkey May Attack Kurdish Rebels in Iraq

Kurdistan Map While the Kurdish sector has long been viewed as the bright spot in post-invasion Iraq, it’s also the powder keg that could widen the war’s scope considerably. PKK rebels have launched attacks into Turkey and the Turkish government has threatened to send troops into northern Iraq after them.

The United States cautioned Turkey on Tuesday against making an incursion into northern Iraq after Kurdish rebels launched attacks from there and urged both countries to work together to resolve the conflict. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for all necessary measures to be taken against Kurdish rebels, including a possible incursion into northern Iraq, after they carried out a series of attacks.

But the U.S. State Department warned against such a move. “If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. Asked whether Washington had urged restraint on both sides, McCormack said sovereign states had to make their own decisions about how best to defend themselves. “We have counseled both in public and private for many, many months the idea that it is important to work cooperatively to resolve this issue,” he said.

Both the State Department and the White House said the United States was committed to working with Turkey and Iraq to combat the PKK Kurdish rebel group that has carried out a series of attacks in Turkey. “It is critically important that all sides involved in this — the Iraqis, the Turks and certainly we will do our part — work to combat terrorism. You just can’t have these kinds of attacks emanating from Iraq and I think the Iraqis understand that,” said McCormack.

If they have a problem?! A sovereign country is being attacked by forces in another country — one that has been occupied by American soldiers for going on five years now. I’d say we’re beyond If.

Map courtesy GlobalSecurity.org

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    As I note every time the subject of Iraqi Kurdistan comes up, I think we should be careful of overestimating what’s going on there. When you have the situation that the heads of the two main political parties there are traditional tribal leaders who’ve divided the government there between them and appointed their relatives to significant roles and freedom of speech and the press is being restricted, it’s beginning to sound more like tribalism rather than a burgeoning democracy.

  2. James Joyner says:

    beginning to sound more like tribalism rather than a burgeoning democracy.

    Not much doubt about that. But that’s not exactly encouraging!

  3. >When you have the situation that the heads of
    >the two main political parties there are
    >traditional tribal leaders who’ve divided the
    >government there between them and appointed
    >their relatives to significant roles

    So what you’re saying is that Kurdistan is just like the US with the Clintons and the Bushes?

  4. DC Loser says:

    There’s another issue at work here between Ankara and Washington – the Armenian Genocide Resolution being pushed through Congress at the moment. The Turks are really pissed about this and wants the Administration to put a kabosh on it. I’m sure this has an impact on what’s going on.

  5. Michael says:

    A sovereign country is being attacked by forces in another country — one that has been occupied by American soldiers for going on five years now.

    Can somebody remind me what the Administration’s standard is for labeling a government as harboring terrorists?

  6. DC Loser says:

    Terrorists are people we don’t like. People we like that kill innocent people are just freedom fighters. There are quite of few of them living in Miami.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Terrorists are people we don’t like. People we like that kill innocent people are just freedom fighters. There are quite of few of them living in Miami.

    We have people in Miami murdering civilians to rousing approval?!