RealNews

The Fear Haunting Ankara: Independence for the Kurds

As Turkish and American diplomats have struggled in the last week to strike a deal on the use of American troops in northern Iraq, one of the most intractable hurdles for negotiators has proven to be Turkey’s bitter history with the Kurds. The long struggle between the two groups, which resulted in one of the region’s bloodiest insurgencies in the 1990s, is figuring prominently in Turkey’s calculations over how to deal with the Bush administration’s request to use the country as a base for thousands of American combat troops. In an interview Thursday night on Turkish television, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of Turkey’s governing party, said that the future of Iraq’s Kurdish area, which abuts a border region of Turkey also heavily populated by Kurds, was weighing heavily on the negotiations. “The case here is not as simple as bargaining over dollars,” he said. “We’re talking about the restructuring of the region. How the situation there is going to play out; we have to assess all of this.” Erdogan provided few details, but he hinted at what Turkish officials have been saying privately for weeks: that if war comes to Iraq, the overriding Turkish objective would not be helping the Americans topple Saddam Hussein, but rather preventing the Kurds in Iraq from forming their own state. Full Story

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