Will Turkey Invade?

Patrick Cockburn in northern Iraq

There are 100,000 Turkish troops just across the northern Iraqi border preparing to launch an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in the hope of eliminating the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The US has labelled the PKK ‘terrorists’ and the Iraqi government – despite the arguments of its Kurdish members – has told the guerrillas to disarm or leave its territory. Iran has denounced the Iranian wing of the PKK as a pawn of Israel and the US, and intermittently shells its camps in the Kandil mountains. The PKK, which led the failed rebellion of the Turkish Kurds between 1984 and 1999 and had been largely forgotten by the outside world, is suddenly at the centre of a new crisis in Iraq. President Bush is due to talk to the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Washington on 5 November to discuss how to deal with the PKK without a Turkish invasion of Iraq being launched. The US army in Baghdad is worried that its supply lines through northern Iraq will be cut if the Turks declare an economic embargo or launch a military attack.

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[*] Blood and Belief, NYU Press, 368 pp., £22.50, October, 978 0 814 757116.