Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Political Landscape of Northern Iraq

The fates of Turkey, Northern Iraq, and Iraqi Kurdistan are woven together in a geopolitical tapestry, according to History News Network. Turkey fears that Iraqi Kurds are working with the U.S. and the Coalition Powers in the creation of a Kurdish state. Turkey believes that the creation of a Kurdish state would not only threaten the “territorial integrity” of Turkey, but also, give rise to the secession of the Kurdish people within Turkish boundaries. Kurds, on the other hand, believe that any Turkish intervention is a direct threat to the prospects of a Kurdish state.

Assuming that their national security is not jeopardized, Turkey has agreed to not intervene militarily in Northern Iraq. However, current escalation between Turkish security forces and the PKK, a Kurdish militant organization fighting for independent Kurdistan in Turkey, has caused a bout of apprehension on the Turkish side – “as the Iraqi Kurds are suspicious of Turkey's intent in such a cross-border military operation to target PKK bases, the Turks do not trust the political will and military might of the Iraqi Kurds to shut down PKK bases in Iraqi Kurdistan.” Although the President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd himself, has asked that Turkey not engage in conflict with the PKK, the Turks remain fearful of the loss of their geopolitical leverage.

Turkey’s geopolitical power has been volatile since what is referred to by the Turks as the War of Independence during the early- to mid 1920’s. In the final stages of WWI, both Britain and France promised the Kurds liberation from Turkish rule; however, no such promise was kept, and since then the Kurds became a major destabilizing force in the Middle East to which the Western Powers tapped in times of need.” Similarly, Turkey lost the oil-rich province, Mosul, to Iraq in the WWI treaties. Due to this still-resonant memory, Turks remain skeptical about geographic boundaries granted to them. Consequently, “it would be naïve to think that in an era of ‘preemptive strikes’ and ‘liberation wars’ seizure of Northern Iraq has not been pondered by some Turks who resent the 1926 loss of Mosul.”

As surrounding nations voice their opinion on the potential post-war atmosphere in Iraq, Turkey must find a balance between dealing with “unexpected political developments” and its own interest in the region. It is probable that Turkey will send troops into Northern Iraq, however with so many variables, it is difficult to determine the future of this afflicted region.

For the full article, click here.


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