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To put the recent developments in perspective, the Turkish military wanted the PKK to create troubles to give the impression that Turkey is facing a major security problem from Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan). In their mind this justifies launching a cross boarder operation into southern Kurdistan to root out the source of that threat. The reality is that Turkey is not concerned so much about the PKK as she is about the inevitable formation of an indepedent Kurdish state in what was once called northern Iraq. If and when this Turkish misadventure occurs it will put to test the US Middle East policy in general and the ambiguous American Kurdish policy in particular.
It was in this atmosphere that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Ankara Tuesday. Rice made no mention of Turkey's human rights record and instead tried to placate the Turkish army.
“There are infiltrations, and we are protecting our border. We are taking the necessary measures in this regard. Do not allow the terror network use your territory. Fight against the terrorists who will only terrorize you in the future. Take the necessary measures there,” responded Turkey.
While the Kurds lust after Kirkuk, they are being threatened by the Turkish and Iranian armies. That's because of Kurdish support for PKK radical nationalists. The Kurdish government in the north has tolerated the presence of several thousand PKK fighters. The PKK is fighting for "Greater Kurdistan" (including southeast Turkey, northern Iraq, parts of Iran and Syria.) This sort of thing is very popular with most Kurds, thus the Kurdish leaders feel they cannot crack down on the PKK (as the U.S. and Turkey constantly demand). This year, the PKK has been very active just across the border in Turkey and Iran, attacking police and army units. The Turks and Iranians are fighting back. There are already over 2,000 Turkish troops inside Iraq. This sort of presence has been tolerated for years, as long as the Turks were just looking for PKK camps in remote areas. But the Turks have over 50,000 troops on the border, and appear ready to expand their operations in northern Iraq. Meanwhile, to the east. Iranian troops are moving to the border, and Iranian artillery is being fired into Iraq, at areas believed occupied by the PKK.
'We do not Approve Turkey's Cross-Border Operation'