The Bush administration finds itself in a difficult position as tensions between two regional allies threaten to escalate to war. The Turkish military is fed up with Kurdish rebels it says have safe harbor in northern Iraq, and now wants to mount an assault across the border. One of Iraq’s Kurdish leaders has said such an attack would trigger retaliation.
Turkey has long complained about thousands of Kurdish rebels it says mount operation from within Iraq but has yet to act decisively, mainly because of Washington’s intervention. But diplomats warn that election-year pandering could pressure Turkey to attack.
Los Angeles Times:
The Turkish military’s powerful chief declared Thursday that his army should be given the go-ahead for a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq to pursue Kurdish rebels using the territory as a staging ground for attacks.
The United States has strongly warned Turkey against such an incursion, saying it could destabilize the entire region. Any strike across the border could leave the American military in a difficult position if this fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ended up battling Iraqi Kurds, who are key U.S. allies.
But several Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they feared that in this election year, the Turkish government would succumb to popular sentiment and authorize some kind of military push.