[Marxism] How Turkey Could Undermine Iraq

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 20 12:58:52 MDT 2007

(Should Turkey invade the Kurdish areas of Iraq, it was severely
undercut Washington's consent-manufacturing campaign against the 
supposed Iranian intervention in Iraq, wouldn't it? 

October 20, 2007

How Turkey Could Undermine Iraq
October 20, 2007; Page A9

Turkey's parliament voted overwhelmingly this past week to allow its
army to cross the Iraqi border to fight Kurdish rebels, a move that
President Bush warned against because it would threaten the stability
of one of Iraq's few relatively peaceful regions.

The vote comes in response to attacks by Kurdish rebels that killed
at least two dozen Turkish civilians and soldiers two weeks ago, the
deadliest such attacks in 12 years. The prospect of a cross-border
Turkish campaign helped drive oil prices to an intraday high of $90 a

"I think a full-scale invasion is unlikely, precisely because the
consequences would be so severe, for the U.S., for Turkey, for Iraqi
--Amb. Peter W. Galbraith, Center for Arms Control and

Meanwhile, Congress's consideration of a resolution that would label
the killings of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during
World War I as "genocide" has infuriated Turkey, the successor to the
Ottoman Empire. Ankara recalled its ambassador from Washington two
weeks ago when a House committee passed the resolution and has
threatened to limit access to a critical air base in southern Turkey,
jeopardizing supply lines for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Here's a closer look:

Why would Turkey want to send troops into Iraq? Turkey has amassed
60,000 troops on its border to stop the Kurdish Workers Party, or
PKK, which launched the deadly attacks inside Turkey two weeks ago.
The PKK, a Marxist insurgent group designated a terrorist
organization by the U.S., was founded in the 1970s to fight for an
independent state that includes Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq.
Attacks against Turkey diminished eight years ago when the group's
leader was captured but have flared up in recent years. The northern
portion of Iraq is governed by Kurds and is relatively autonomous.

Why hasn't the U.S. dealt with the PKK? U.S. troops are tied down in
Iraq and the Kurdish part of Iraq remains relatively stable. The
terrain in Northern Iraq and porous borders with Turkey and Iran
create huge obstacles for any military campaign. In addition, some in
Washington still bear animosity toward Turkey for denying the U.S.
permission to launch its initial invasion of Iraq through Turkey in

How likely is a Turkish invasion? Recent violence has increased
public pressure on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to
launch a major operation, but the prime minister remains reluctant to
invade, experts say. Mr. Erdogan was quick to state this past week
that the resolution didn't mean a cross-border operation was
imminent. Many Turks blame the U.S. for increasing border violence
because the U.S. has prevented Turkish troops from entering Iraq to
stamp out civil unrest. Iraq responded to Turkey's resolution by
calling on the PKK to leave Iraq and said it would consider allowing
limited air strikes within its borders.

How would an invasion complicate the Iraq war? The U.S. doesn't want
a war between two of its allies in one of the few stable parts of
Iraq. Also, if the U.S. allows Turkey to cross the border into Iraq,
it sets a precedent that could lead Iran to take similar steps to
quell violence on its border with Iraq. The prospect of war has
rattled oil markets because Iraq ships some of its oil through a
pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. The
oil pipeline that runs from Kirkuk, Iraq, to Ceyhan has averaged an
output of 500,000 barrels a day, about 0.6% of daily global demand.

What effect could the Armenian genocide resolution have? Turkey has
threatened to restrict access to the Incirlik Air Base, which has
become a primary resupply area for the Iraq war. Critics say the
resolution risks emboldening Turkish nationalists who already oppose
Ankara's cooperation with Washington. A Pew Research Center poll
found that 9% of Turks view the U.S. favorably, compared with 83% who
view the U.S. unfavorably.

The Pentagon has prepared alternate supply routes through Jordan and
Kuwait in case the U.S. loses access to bases in Turkey. Nearly 70%
of all air cargo, including 95% of all roadside bomb-proof armored
vehicles, goes into Iraq via Turkey. In addition, one third of all
fuel goes through or comes from Turkey.

Will the resolution pass? Probably not. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
was forced to backtrack from a pledge to bring the measure for a
vote. Support for the symbolic resolution dropped as the Bush
administration and others warned that angering Turkey would hamper
efforts in Iraq. The resolution has 215 co-sponsors, three short of
the majority needed to pass in the House of Representatives, and down
from the 236 co-sponsors it had earlier this year.

Why is Congress considering it? Armenian-Americans have long pushed
for Congress to recognize the killings of Armenians during World War
I as genocide. The subject remains taboo in Turkey, where referring
to the killings as genocide carries a criminal charge of "insulting
Turkishness." Turkey's official position is that the deaths weren't
genocide but rather the result of civil war and unrest. * * *

Facts . Kurds make up 20% of Turkey's 71 million citizens.

. With a population estimated between 1.5 million and two million,
Armenian-Americans outnumber Turkish-Americans by a 3-to-1 margin.

. Armenian influence is most pronounced in Glendale, Calif., a Los
Angeles suburb of 200,000 that is 40% Armenian.

. President Reagan was the only U.S. president to publicly refer to
the killings of Armenians as genocide.

. A trial against Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize-winning Turkish
novelist, for referring to the deaths of Armenians as genocide was
halted last year after drawing negative publicity for Turkey.

. The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which created Iraq, Syria and Kuwait,
included the possibility of a Kurdish state. Turkey, Iran and Iraq
agreed not to recognize an independent Kurdish state after Kemal
Ataturk overthrew the Turkish monarchy and rejected the treaty in

. France, Germany and Canada are among nearly a dozen countries that
have passed laws recognizing the Armenian genocide.

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