Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Best-laid plans go awry

Oct.24, 2007

Best-laid plans poised to go awry

TURKEY's move to stage cross-border military operations against the Turkish Kurdish rebels operating out of northern Iraq poses a dilemma for the US on several fronts. The issue is of also of grave concern to Israel, which has its own agenda in northern Iraq.
It is clear that any Turkish military operation would lead to serious destabilisation of northern Iraq, which is administered by Iraqi Kurds and the only area in Iraq where relative tranquility prevails while the US grapples with the raging insurgency in other parts of the country.
The situation becomes more complicated when seen against the certainty that the Turkish move would not be limited to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), whose fighters are carrying out attacks against Turkish interests while based in the mountainous areas of northern Iraq. Ankara would definitely use the opportunity to strike at Iraqi Kurds whose dreams of independence pose serious threats Turkey, which has a sizeable Kurdish content in its population near the border with Iraq.
Acutely aware of the possibility of being targeted by Turkey, Iraqi Kurds have vowed to fight any Turkish move into northern Iraq.
The US has limited options in the situation. Washington has links with Iranian Kurdish rebels grouped under an organisation called PEJAK, which, according to expert reports, is another face of the PKK.
Iranian Kurds is a tool in the US campaign against the Tehran regime. Even members of American Congress have noted that PEJAK could not be operating successfully from northern Iraq against Iran without US knowledge, support, and co-ordination.
Washington has asked the Iraqi Kurds to prevent PKK cross-border attacks against Turkey, but has made no reference to the PEJAK; it could not have been expected to do so either.
Equally relevant here are Israel's connections with PEJAK. The Jewish state maintains a strong intelligence presence in northern Iraq near the border with Iran in order to monitor developments in Iran with help from PEJAK. The Israeli alliance with the Kurds has strained the Jewish state's relations with Turkey, with Ankara issuing public and private warnings against it.
However, the alliance is far too important for Israel to abandon.
The so-called Greater Kurdistan covers parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria and is an ideal base from which to carry out operations aimed at destabilising Israel's foes.
It was a well-oiled applecart of Kurdish links that the US and Israel had been operating in northern Iraq since the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. The situation got out of hand because the PKK became overzealous in its operations against Turkey, and now the US and Israel find themselves facing the prospect of their applecart being overturned and hence the surge in American efforts to contain the situation.