U.S. toBe Caught Between Turks, Kurds in Iraq

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t7-2.mcbone.net ( on Wednesday, January 08, 2003 at 3:47PM :


U.S. Might Be Caught Between Turks, Kurds in

Jan 07, 2003

The biggest battle in Iraq might not be between the U.S. and Iraqi armies. Rather, northern Iraq is shaping up as a battleground between two erstwhile U.S. allies, the Turks and Kurds, that threatens to catch American troops in the crossfire.

Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said Jan. 6 that he had instructed government legal advisers to examine several treaties dating back to the Ottoman era in order to evaluate Turkey's rights over oil fields in
the Mosul and Kirkuk regions of northern Iraq, the Turkish daily Turkiye reports. "If we prove that Turkey has rights to oil in the region, we should clearly explain this to both the international community and related countries," Yakis said, adding that Turkey had no intention of claiming the fields and that Iraq should maintain control.

More than oil revenues are at stake in northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurds are committed to establishing a Kurdish state in the region, though like the Turks they have ddiplomatically denied such intentions in the run-up to a U.S. war with Iraq. Like the Kosovar Albanians before them, the Kurds welcome an intervention by U.S. forces in the hope that they can ride the American coattails to eventual independence. Though Washington has declared its commitment to the territorial integrity of Iraq, it will be hard-pressed politically and militarily to suppress a Kurdish declaration of statehood.

Ankara's tepid public support for the U.S. buildup and its feverish backroom maneuvering to avert war are driven by the prospect of a Kurdish state. As war becomes ever more likely, Turkey is laying the
political groundwork for a military incursion into northern Iraq. If the United States is unwilling or unable to hold the Kurds in check, then Turkish forces will do so. At that point, U.S. troops could be caught between their allies and the remnants of the Iraqi military.

-- andreas
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