Monday, October 15, 2007

Who lost Turkey?

Now we're getting articles with titles like that, this one from Juan Cole at the University of Michigan. Juan teaches Middle Eastern history and reminds us that Turkey has been a solid American ally since World War II, and was a NATO ally during the Cold War. About 70 prrcent of U.S. supplies for the military people in northern portions of Iraq go through Turkey, mainly the Incirlik air base. And while Turkey has hardly been kind to the Kurds in the country, the establishment of a de facto independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq -- up to now the most stable and hopeful part of the country, has complicated life for the Turkish government, what with cross-border raids by the anti-Turk PKK; the Kurdish rebellion had been fairly quiescent.

On Sunday Kurdish guerrillas killed 13 Turkish troops. There are rumors (and more) the Turks are launching long-range artillery at suspected PKK sites in northern Iraq. And a committee in the House just labeled the mass murder of Armenians a "genocide." A Turkish cross-border incursion with men and equipment would likely destabilize northern Iraq further. Now after dissing Turkey for years, the Bush administration is pleading for restraint.

These troubles with Turkey are yet another unanticipated consequence ("blowback," if you will) of stirring the pot in the Middle East by invading Iraq. Making Iran more influential and powerful and losing a long-time ally. Good work!


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