RealNews

Iraqi opposition figure tries to defuse tensions between Turkey, Iraqi Kurds

An Iraqi opposition leader held talks with Turkish officials on Tuesday in an attempt to mend ties between Turks and Iraqi Kurds that have been strained over Turkish plans to deploy forces in northern Iraq in a possible U.S.-led war. The ongoing tensions between the sides could hamper U.S. war plans. Washington wants to use Turkey to open a northern front against Iraq while arming Iraq’s Kurds to fight the forces of Saddam Hussein. Turkey says it will send in tens of thousands of troops into northern Iraq if there is war, a deployment Iraq Kurds say will lead to clashes. Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group, said Tuesday that tensions over Turkey’s deployment plans could be resolved. “We think that Turkish troops in northern Iraq could be a cause of difficulty and conflict, but I believe we can work out these problems,” Chalabi, a Shiite Arab, said after meeting with Turkish officials. “We want to be friends with Turkey and we do not think that Turkish troop intervention is useful either for Turkey or for Iraq.” Anti-Turkish demonstrations in northern Iraq have further increased tensions with Turkey. Nationalist Turks were outraged to see footage of Iraqi Kurds burning Turkish flags broadcast on Turkish television. Turkey says it would send in troops to stop a possible influx of refugees from Iraq and to protect Turkish interests in the region by preventing the establishment of an independent Kurdish state and stopping Iraqi Kurds from seizing key oil fields in northern Iraq. Full Story

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