Saturday, March 08, 2008

Implications of Turk-US cooperation in the GreenZone

English-language reports haven't had anything to say about the reasons for the US cooperation/acquiescence in the recent Turkish attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan. But three (unrelated) Arab journalists seem to be thinking along the same general lines when it comes to the meaning of this Turk-US cooperation for Iraqi politics. (My italics in what follows.)

Beshir Abdel-Fattah writing in the Emirates paper AlKhaleej, details US-Turkish contacts in connection with the military operations, then talks about the sudden and unexpected withdrawal. He writes:
...speculation says an agreement was formed between Washington and Ankara to speed the Turkish withdrawal, and there are claims that Washington agreed to the Turkish military operations in the expectation of help from Turkey in the encirclement of Iran, and in reining in the growing Kurdish influence in Iraq, [! corrected from previous typo that said "Iran"] and in the liquidation of the Kurd-Regional administration of Masoud Barzani, or at least cutting it down to size, since it has started imposing its will on the Iraqi government, to the extent that it has become a strategic problem for Washington, particularly with the increasing role of Kurdistan in the Iraqi scene, and the obstruction of passage of the Oil and Gas Law. ...
(The other thing Washington is said to want from Turkey is an increase in its troop-commitment for Afghanistan). The journalist doesn't offer any help to the reader who immediately wonders: How in particular is Turkey supposed to assist in reining in Barzani?

In connection with the arrival of Talabani in Ankara at the head of a big delegation Saturday March 8, an AlHayat reporter wrote:
The Kurdistan Alliance expressed anxiety about this visit by Talabani at a "sensitive time" when there are differences among the Kurds themselves. The leader of the bloc, Mahmoud Othman, said the purpose of the invitation extended by Turkey to the president of the republic [Talabani] is to sow discord between him and the president of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, particularly considering there is still a tense atmosphere on the border, with continued Turkish shelling of peaceful Kurdish villages.
Still no indication how the Turks are supposed to help undermine Barzani.

Finally,The Kuwaiti paper AlQabas reviews the Talabani visit from the point of view of Turkish relations with the two of them, pointing out that in the mid-90s Barzani Kurdish party obtained Turkish military help in his fight against Talabani's party, so you might think the Turks would be better-disposted to him than to the later. But in the five years of American occupation of Iraq, they have become exasperated with the continual verbal attacks by Barzani against alleged Turkish interventions in Kurdish and Iraqi internal affairs, referring mostly to the status of Kirkuk. By contrast, Talabani has established a more reasonable and flexible image, for instance with respect to Kirkuk he talks also about the rights of the Turkman minority as well.
And he [Talabani] has always rejected the dream of establishing an independent Kurdish state in the region, insisting on the need to live within the existing borders in Iraq, and side by side with Syria, Turkey and Iran, all of which have their Kurdish populations.
None of this is very specific, but it does seem that at least some Arab journalists smell some kind of an arrangement between Talabani and Washington to clip the wings of the more rambunctious Kurdish representative (Barzani) in the GreenZone, and this could have to do not only with calming the situation in Kirkuk, but also with the Oil and Gas law.

(Thanks to the all-seeing RoadstoIraq website for pointing out these articles).


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