Invading Northern Iraq: Threat or Bluff?

Article published on Oct. 21, 2007
community published
Article published on Oct. 21, 2007
I wanted to wait for a while before writing about the possible military operation in Northern Iraq.
Two weeks ago the first steps for an extended military action are taken in a summit between heads of the military and the government and then the decision is voted in the parliament and deputies in parliament cast an overwhelming 507 votes in favour of the motion to 19 against, which permits the government to order military operations inside Iraq within the next year.

At first I was not sure whether the government was bluffing or not. I still have some doubts about it but I don’t think that they will come up with a large scale military operation in Northern Iraq. There are several reasons to that. Prime Minister Erdogan talked in the parliament last week and said that the possible military campaign would target solely the terrorist organization PKK. After these words one can come up with the conclusion that they are not after an extended operation. Another thing is, a commentator of the Hurriyet newspaper Yilmaz Ozdil pointed out an important detail about the situation. He asks a simple question: “What would be the first thing that a country does before invading another country?” and the answer is withdrawal of its own citizens who live in that particular country. Right now around 50 thousand Turks are living in the Northern Iraq. Ozdil adds that “If you don’t draw back your people from the conflict zone they will become mere targets”. So far the Erdogan government did nothing to call back the Turks who live in that region.

These signs may be small but they are a clear indicator which shows that Turkey is not after invading Northern Iraq. That kind of full scale invasion is not reasonable either. There are too many things that Turkey will risk with such military operation. The relations with the EU are not going so well and it will fall in to a crisis with a military campaign. EU will probably freeze the negotiations for an unspecified time. It will become a great asset in the hand s of Sarkozy also. Maybe it’s a long shot but a possible extended military campaign may favour Tassos Papadopoulos in Cyprus too. He loves to manipulate Cyprus issue and pump up the nationalism in the island and a Turkey invading Northern Iraq is just ideal for him. Without getting rid of Papadopoulos it is impossible to solve the Cyprus issue. So I guess its all linked. Right now Turkey can not afford such a military campaign because of the interdependence of the country.

But we are still talking about Turkey. In 1974 the government shocked the Western world with the invasion of the Cyprus. I hope this time they won’t go after some crazy adventures that we can not afford and do the reasonable thing. For now it seems like Turkey got what it wants: The international attention. Northern Iraq and PKK became a serious issue in the West also and I believe that was the main idea of this bluff game of Turkey.