Monday, October 22, 2007

Down with the PKK and USA!

This kind of had to happen.

In Ankara, hundreds convened at a main square shouting "Down with the PKK and USA!'' Ambulances decorated with Turkish flags drove around main streets, their sirens wailing.

This is now a structural problem that can only get worse. Turkey cannot invade Iraq and hold territory in the mountains there against armed resistance. So the PKK will be there indefinitely. Turkey is asking the USA to pressure the Kurdish government to weaken the movement by doing things like slowing the movement of materials to the region.

The problem is that there is no amount of pressure the US can apply at this point that would get the Kurds to effectively hamper their brothers. Baghdad could do it if it had the authority, but the US made a decision at latest by 2004 that the US would support the Kurds in gaining independence from Baghdad.

There is now no way to root out the PKK, and worse than Israel's cluster bombs in Lebanon, the US has given anti-US forces in Turkey a gift that keeps on giving. We'll be reading about a dozen Turkish soldiers killed here, half dozen captured there for the foreseeable future. Every time it happens the future leaders of Turkey will be hearing from their parents that it is the treacherous Americans' fault.

There is no more goodwill between Turkey and the United States. Permanently. Turkey will fulfill obligations that are both required by treaty and that have tangible consequences for failure. Turkey's relationship with Israel went deeply against the grain of consensus sensibilities in Turkey's population. It existed out of the goodwill Turkey's foreign policy establishment felt towards the US. Like the Turkish relationship with the US, Turkey's relationship with Israel is now being carried by inertia but gliding to a stop.

The PKK is the biggest strategic disaster for the US of the Iraq invasion. Far worse long term than pinning down 150,000 soldiers where they are hostages to Iran.


Ziad said...

Great to see you posting so frequently.

Is there any chance Turkey would do a strike to "weaken" the Kurds? I agree they would only incur heavy casualties by invading rough terrain with determined resistance. But would turkey think in terms o weakening the Kurds relative to their competitor groups in Iraq?

After all, If after a war with Turkey the Kurds are too weak to hold on to Kirkuk, then they lose, even if they repel a Turkish attack.

Alternatively, do you see Turkish-U.S. relations going so poorly that the turks would Arm Kurdistan's enemies, AKA the Sunni Insurgency?

Ziad said...

Finally do you ever see Turkey going the Israeli rout and taking out their frustrations on random civilians even if the PKK itself is unharmed?

Certainly I don't recommend it. Just curious if the Turks would consider it.

Arnold Evans said...

Turkey has to accept the resurgence of the PKK. It has no way of slowing this down now. And it is going to rightly blame the US.

If I was Turkey, I'd make sure the Sunnis fighting for Kirkuk are even better armed than the Syrians were doing. I'd coordinate with Iran about containing the Kurds to the extent possible and I'd be starting to talk to Russia about long term regional plans that have nothing to do with the United States.

I think Kirkuk can still be denied and Kurdish oil kept off line so that combined with border closings, Turkey may be able to put economic pressure on Kurdistan. Not enough pressure to stop Kurdish actions in Turkey's territory, but enough to slow transfers of weapons and maybe get some PKK leaders captured. Maybe.

If I was the US, I still think the US could leave an anti-US intact Iraq where Baghdad has sovereignty over Kurdistan. If that's what the US wanted to do. The trade would be keep Turkey but lose Kurdistan and any US bases in Iraq. That's a better trade than what the US will end up with.

An invasion wouldn't work at all. Economic pressure, meaning cutting off trade and forcing Kurdistan to transport good back and forth through Iran, Syria and the rest of Iraq is Turkey's best option now to retaliate against the Kurds. There are going to be more PKK attacks and ambushes.

Its just while this happens, the population of Turkey is learning the really hate the United States. I can't overstate how bad that is for the US.