Saturday, June 02, 2007

The US pulls out of Kurdistan positions as Turks threaten invasion

The US military has pulled most of its troops out of Kurdistan in response to the heavy Turkish military buildup on the border.

80,000 Turkish troops are concentrated at Sirank, the meeting point of the Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian borders, and Turkish chief of staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanıt publicly declared that his army was ready for incursion into Kurdistan. “Turkey cannot afford an independent Kurdish state headed by Barzani on its southern border,” said Gen. Büyükanıt.

The Turks have several objectives. They fear the rise of an independent Kurdish state that could empower their own repressed Kurdish population, whom the Turks refer to as `mountain Turks' rather than Kurds. They also feel that Iraq is due to split ethnically, and want their share of the booty - namely, the oil rich city of Kirkuk, about 100 miles from the Turkish border.

Additionally, a military expedition of this kind, with the ostensible cover of `rooting out PKK terrorism' could provide an excuse for nationalist Turkish unity behind the embattled Erdogan government.

When the Turkish government began threatening a military incursion into Iraq, Kurdistan's president Massoud Barzani, sent an emissary, Safin Dizai, to Ankara with the message that the Turkish military would not be allowed into northern Iraq, and that the Kurdish Peshmerga Army would attack them if they invaded.

Sunday, May 27, US Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Islamist Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul had a sitdown, which apparently did not go well.

Immediately afterwards, Washington apparently has decided that its first priority is to avoid a military clash between US forces stationed in Kurdistan and invading Turkish troops.

As of this week, the local US commanders and Kurdistan's President Massoud Barzani signed a document transferring security responsibility for the region from coalition forces to the Kurdish Peshmerga. American troops were hurriedly pulled out of the Kurdish capital of Irbil, as well as the cities of Dohuk and Suleimaniyeh. US troops still remain in position in Kirkuk.

SecDef Robert Gates and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki also cautioned th eTurks against a military incursion into Iraq...but withthe US troops being pulled out,it remains to be seen how much force that has.

In other words, right now it looks as though the Kurds are going to be left to fend for themselves....but that the US will hold on to Kirkuk, because the Iraqi government wants the oil rich city for itself.

If the deal goes down this way, it indicates a few things - one, that the Islamist Turkish regime has moved further out of the western camp and that they are even willing to confront the Bush Administration in an attempt to hold on to power. It may also be a sign that the Bush Administration has determined that the Kurds are a `liability' to a unified Iraq and need to be bled a little.

It could very well be that a US president named Bush is about to shamelessly betray the Kurds again, our only real allies in Iraq.

For my part, I hope the Kurds beat the odds and cut the Turkish military into dogmeat if they try to invade.

And as for the current occupant of the White House..if the Turks attack the Kurds and we do nothing about it, it will be a shameful betrayal..and those chickens have a way of coming home to roost when one least expects it.


Anonymous said...

"...cut the Turkish military into dogmeat..."

Hardly a very professional analysis. Why would anyone take you seriously?

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why he would do this. We may not be good at fighting insurgencies, but we could pound the Turks in a conventional military campaign, and they know it. What is Bush afraid of?

Anonymous said...

anon @ 7:20 am:
hardly an informative counter point, why would anyone take you seriously.

hi nazar,
you have not been paying attention. this is not about bush. this is about what the saudis tell bush to do. it sounds errily as though #41 & baker are calling the shots. personally, i'd like a fight with the turks. give them back some of that armenian meat they deny deny deny taking. secondly, as the kurds say they have no friends but the mountains. i think this is part of bush's plan to get hillary elected. make the repubs. look so bad no one will for one.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Y'all,
Well, Anonymous it wasn't intended to be a `professional military analysis'...more like a heartfelt sentiment if the Turks attempt to invade Kurdistan. As for taking me seriously, indeed why would you if you're rooting for something like this to happen?
We'll see...

Hi Nazar, how are you?
I think the motivations are as given in the article: One, Bush
has decided that avoiding a confrontation between US troops and the Turkish military is more important than standing up for the Kurds.

Two, the Kurds,with a strong, independent military and their own government might be considered as a liability to a Shiite controlled unified Iraq. The Bush Administration might very well like the idea of the Kurds being bled a little so they have no potential to secede from Maliki's Iraq. Remember, the Kurds are not Arabs.

It's significant that the Americans are remaining deployed in Kirkuk, an oil rich Kurdish city that the Shiites want control of, and a major contention point between the Shiites and Kurds. It almost appears that we are saying to the Turks thatthey can have free reign over the rest of Kurdistan as long as they leave Kirkuk alone!

And yes,it's despicable.

Hi Louie, wassup? Nawm I honestly don't think thatthere's a big plot to get Hillary elected by the White's more the Saudis, power politics and Baker..

Josh said...

Freedom Fighter:

The only real contention I have with you is your repetition of a phrase I constantly here when referring to the Kurds: "our only real allies in Iraq."

What this phrase means is that the Kurds know how to handle interior security, so we don't need to send troops to N. Iraq.

It would be a mistake to call them allies, as the prospects for a long-term alliance past this moment of convenience are slim to none. If Kurdistan is formed as you apparantly would at the very least not oppose, it poses severe problems for the U.S.

Due to years of exploitation, the Kurds have no friends in the area. However, without access to the waterway, Kurdistan would need to make nice with one of its neighbors. Iraq would probably be a no go since Kurdistan would have been ripped from its borders. Similarly Turkey, while possibly to best trading partner over the long run, is in the short run (aka our entire lifetimes) the least likely due to the actions of the Turkish military (primarily) and Kurdish terrorists. Syria is so isolated diplomatically that good relations with them does no good, and Azerbajan is so isolated territorially (plus has strong relations w/ Turkey that Azerbajan would probably not want to threaten) that they are a no go.

Iran would present the best alternative for a Kurdish state to achieve viability. While there's no love lost between the Kurds and Iran, its nothing like the relationship between the Kurds and the Turks. Similarly, while Iran may have bad relations with the west, the Kurds could still use Iran to market their oil to Russia and China.

In short, backing the Kurds over the Turks presents a high likelihood of an Iranian presence in Kirkuk, for, after the U.S. military leaves Iraq, there will be little benefit to the Kurds to a continued relationship, and they will probably go Uzbekistan on us.

The Bush Administrations current stance makes the best of a bad situation that they have created. Kurdish terrorism is a real problem in Turkey, and our failure to do anything more symbolic efforts to fight the PKK is why this situation has gotten where it is.

Now that we have basically told the Kurds that we won't stop Turkey from invading, there are two possible scenarios. The most likely scenario is that we let Turkey invade Iraq, the Kurdish military probably doesn't respond and the Turkish military will spend a few weeks < 50 miles into N. Iraq chasing foxholes like they did last time. Not an ideal solution, but the least evil all things considered.

Alternatively, it will be the Turks who blink, not wanting to risk their EU membership to chase the aforementioned foxholes. Regardless, it is a much better outcome then if we openly supported the Kurds and further emboldened them to declare independence when at present it is Iran who would benefit.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi JR,
Thanks for a reasoned comment.

Here's where we differ.

First off, the Kurds have been our only real allies in Iraq for some time, mainly because we saved them from annihilation by enforcing the no fly zone on Saddam. There's a certain amount of `convenience' there, as the Kurds know that US backing would insure their independence, but that's true with all alliances.

If we weren't prepared to control Iraq's borders and institute a US friendly government, our best bet would have been to help establish a strong independent Kurdistan that includes Kirkuk and make Kurdistan our land base against Iran and Syria.,,something the Kurds have begged us to do. Aside from providing our troops with a safe haven to fight jihad, it would have provided us with a strong ally with similar values and with a good military - in other words, another Israel, a non-Arab ally in the Middle East.

Not only that, it would promote dissension in Syria and Iran, which have large repressed Kurdish populations.

And according to the gospel of the present occupant of the white House, aren't we supposed to be supporting freedom and democracy in the region??

The reason we have crapped on the Kurds at every turn is because the Saudis don't want despised non-Arabs empowered, and as usual it's a case of Saudis say, George Bush do.

The fact that Kurdistan is landlocked means very little - there are plenty of successful land locked countries. And the Kurds would have outlets via Jordan and ultimately Israel, who have been dealing with the Kurds even in the Saddam years.

This is a horribly missed opportunity.

I do agree with your assessment on what's likely to happen, especially since the US maintained its presence in Kirkuk, something the Turks had their eye on.

All Best,

Josh said...

freedom fighter:

How democratic is Kurdish Iraq? I realize they elect people to the national government, but I thought that the Kurdish regions was still run along tribal lines not democratically.