Saturday, February 23, 2008
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Up to 10,000 Turkish troops launch an incursion which threatens to destabilise the country's only peaceful region
By Patrick Cockburn
"A new crisis has exploded in Iraq after Turkish troops, supported by attack planes and Cobra helicopters, yesterday launched a major ground offensive into Iraqi Kurdistan.
The invading Turkish soldiers are in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas hiding in the mountains. They are seeking to destroy the camps of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) along the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan. "Thousands of troops have crossed the border and thousands more are waiting at the border to join them if necessary," said a Turkish military source.....
But the escalating Turkish attacks are destabilising the Kurdish region of Iraq which is the one peaceful part of the country and has visibly benefited from the US invasion.
The Iraqi Kurds are America's closest allies in Iraq and the only Iraqi community to support fully the US occupation. The president of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, said recently he felt let down by the failure of the Iraqi government in Baghdad to stop Turkish bombing raids on Iraqi territory.
The incursion is embarrassing for the US, which tried to avert it, because the American military provides intelligence to the Turkish armed forces about the location of the camps of Turkish Kurd fighters. Immediately before the operation began, the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, called President George Bush to warn him.
The US and the Iraqi government are eager to play down the extent of the invasion.....
But since last year Turkey has succeeded, by making limited incursions into Kurdistan, in establishing a de facto right to intervene militarily in Kurdistan whenever it feels like it......"