View Full Version : U.S. Warns Of Disaster If Turks Attack Iraq

10-16-2007, 07:08 AM
US warns of disaster if Turks attack Iraq


Molly Moore and Robin Wright in Istanbul
October 15, 2007

AMERICAN officials have begun an intense lobbying effort to defuse Turkish threats to launch a military attack on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

Turkey is also threatening to limit access to critical air and land routes that have become a lifeline for US troops in Iraq.

But even as the US Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, Daniel Fried, appealed for restraint in Ankara on Saturday, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a political rally in Istanbul, urged the parliament to vote unanimously this week to "declare a mobilisation" against Kurdish rebels and their "terrorist organisation", the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

US military officials predict disastrous consequences if Turkey strikes at northern Iraq and serious repercussions for the safety of US troops if Turkey reduces the supply lines it permits.

The confluence of two seemingly unrelated events could not have come at a worse time. The bodies of 13 Turkish soldiers killed on October 7 in one of the deadliest attacks by Kurdish separatists had barely been buried amid emotional media coverage when the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington approved a resolution to label as genocide the mass killings of Armenians during the final decades of the Ottoman Empire.

"This is not only about a resolution," said Egemen Bagis, a member of the Turkish parliament and a foreign policy adviser to Erdogan. "We're fed up with the PKK - it is a clear and present danger for us. This insult over the genocide claims is the last straw."

Domestic politics in both countries - the Armenian lobby that pushed for the genocide resolution in Congress and growing pressure on the Turkish leadership to stop Kurdish rebel attacks - collided to create an international crisis.

"It's a difficult time for the relationship," the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, told reporters on Saturday during her trip to Russia, noting Mr Fried and another State Department official had gone to Turkey to reassure the Turks "that we really value this relationship".