Thursday, August 17, 2006

Turkey an Integral Political Player in Middle East

Turkey an Integral Political Player in Middle East

Turkey and Iran are apparently cooperating in cross-border attacks on Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq. Turkey is claiming that the U.S. has not done their part in stepping up to the plate and flush out guerrillas linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have hideouts in Iraq.
Frustrated by the reluctance of the US and the government in Baghdad to crack down on the PKK bases inside Iraq, Turkish generals have hinted they are considering a large-scale military operation across the border. They are said to be sharing intelligence about Kurdish rebel movements with their Iranian counterparts. "We would not hesitate to take every kind of measures when our security is at stake," Abdullah Gul, the Turkish foreign minister, said last week.
The worry for the U.S. would be the destabilization of the Kurds' self-ruled region, one of the only alleged post-invasion "success stories."

The U.S. is responding to Turkey's complaint that U.S. officials haven't spoken clearly or acted aggressively enough on the PKK "terrorist" threat:
Criticized by Ankara for not taking concrete steps against the terror network, the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party), the U.S. administration called upon the PKK “to cease its terrorist actions and lay down its arms.”

Turkey is still considering if and how they will contribute to a UN force in Southern Lebanon, expressing solidarity with the Lebanese government and keeping a close eye on Hezbollah - not wishing to be part of any force that could be seen as being against the Lebanese people. Turkish officials say that the stance of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah towards the UN force will be an important factor in their final decision.

Since the US occupation forces in Iraq as well as the Jordanian government are preventing flights from Iran to use the Iraqi and the Jordanian airspace, the only loophole left for supplying Hezbollah with weapons would be Syria - via Turkey. Turkey is being urged by Israel to take all possible steps to prevent the transfer of arms from Iran to Syria to resupply Hezbollah. The Arab Monitor reports that the Israeli policy of trying to involve Turkey in an embargo against Iran puts Turkish interests under strain as Turkey has good commercial relationships with Iran and depends on Iran for gas and oil supplies.

Turkish pundit Cengiz Candar believes that Turkey's military contribution to any international force would symbolize a robust political comeback to the region. He gives three key reasons why there will be no real danger of a Turkish confrontation with Hezbollah, should Turkey decide to contribute to a UN force.



Turkey And Iraq Are Inseparable Parts Of The Region, Gul - Turkish Press

'Turkey Could Play Critical Role in Peace Force' - Zaman Daily News