Turkish troops are in Northern Iraq

Article published on Feb. 24, 2008
community published
Article published on Feb. 24, 2008
It was a matter of time. On Thursday, Turkish ground troops started to cross the Iraqi border and they initiated a mass offensive against the Kurdish militia group PKK. In October, the parliament gave the go ahead to the army for “necessary” military operations in Northern Iraq. Then we started to hear and see news about several air strikes but now things are getting serious.

komando_1.jpgIt’s been only 3 days that the ground operation started and some contradicting information started to flow from the region. Officials say that only 3,000 troops crossed the border and they advanced about 10 kilometers and some other sources like the Turkish Daily News claims that at least 10,000 troops are currently conducting a mass operation in mountainous Northern Iraq and they advanced 25 kilometers. Like these confusing information, the timing and possible outcomes of this mission are raising questions. The Turkish military was expected to launch a ground operation in spring because of the harsh winter conditions of the region. What was their rush? For how far they are planning to advance and how long will it take?

But one thing is certain. Turkey got dragged in to a mess. So far the death toll is 8 but unfortunately it may rise and this already started to create some concerns in the country. The well known menaces of Iraq will obviously become a bigger issue for Turkey and the tension between the Kurds and the Turks within the country is likely to rise. One of the biggest fears is the possibility of PKK attacks or bombings in big cities of Turkey. Marginalized PKK resistance may very well try to carry their struggle to Istanbul or Ankara.

Maybe the sole comforting point is the support of the US. Washington confirmed that it had been notified in advance of the latest Turkish move, and received assurances that it would be directed solely at positions or fighters of the PKK. An operation in such scale without the consent of the US would have created disastrous results.

This week will be extremely crucial for Turkey. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will pay a visit to his counterpart Abdullah Gul in Ankara and the U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to visit Turkey on February 27-28. These meetings are likely to shed some light on the recent developments but still this surprise attack of the Turkish military stays as a big question mark.