Turkey and the National Security Strategy: Behind the Iraq Border Conflict

October 31st, 2007 - by admin

Hassan Hanizadeh / Tehran Times Opinion Column – 2007-10-31 23:02:24


TEHRAN (October 31, 2007) — The rising tension between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the deployment of the Turkish army in northern Iraq has created a new situation in the Iran-Iraq-Turkey triangle.

Even though the PKK issue has been a major national security concern for Ankara for many years the deployment of 100,000 troops along the border with Iraq is a result of certain local, regional and international factors.

The covert confrontation of secularists with Erdogan’s Islamist government and an attempt by the army to revive its influence are the reasons for the heightened conflict between Turkey and the PKK.

The victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) with Islamic roots in the recent parliamentary elections has lessened the influence of the powerful Turkish army and secularists in the country. Now the secularists are looking for a successful military gain against the PKK to re-establish their considerably lost influence.

As in the past, in recent days the PKK has been carrying out terrorist acts, without analyzing the internal situation, and each time Turkish army responded to the terrorist attacks with equal force.

Since the Erdogan government has been more responsive to the demands of the Kurdish population the worsening of the security situation will not benefit the PKK at all.

To find a peaceful solution of the Kurdish demands under the current Turkish administration is easier, but regrettably the PKK has chosen the violent path without realizing the situation at home.

On the other hand, the Iraqi Kurdistan is being used as a base for attacks against Turkey by the PKK rebels, leading to the spread of insecurity in the Turkish land.

Moreover, the Iraqi occupation forces are trying to spread the cycle of violence to borders outside Iraq so that they find an excuse to topple the government of Nouri al-Maliki and replace him with a secular prime minister.

In order to divert the public attention towards northern Iraq the United States has been provoking the PKK to create a security problem for Turkey (even for Iran), knowing that it may eventually force Ergdogan to order military strikes on northern Iraq.

Now if the Turkish army launches strikes against northern Iraq its repercussions will surely affect the countries bordering Iraq. Since the Turkish army will not be able to root out the PKK in a short military operation, as it is difficult to track down rebels in the mountainous region.

However, Ankara has not ruled out political solution of the PKK problem. The Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s visit to Tehran and a visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki to Iraq, plus the telephone conversations between the presidents of Iran, Iraq and Turkey show that there is still hope to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, which involve the Turkey-Iraq-Iran triangle and that the military option is not the only solution.

Naturally, Turkey’s strategic policy is not inflaming tension at home and outside. It wants fair dealings with all minorities in the country and the establishment of a proper atmosphere for national unity will consolidate Turkish national security.

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