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Turkey may have scored an ‘own goal’

The fact Turkey did not allow a US ‘Northern Front’ to be launched from its territory could in the not-so-long-run prove very detrimental to what it views as its ‘national interests’.

The Turkish state in very uneasy that in the aftermath of a collapse of the regime in Baghdad, Iraq itself may fall apart, with the Kurds in the north declaring an independent Kurdistan. The Turks (and Iranians) fear this as it will greatly embolden the Kurdish separatists in South-Eastern Turkey (and also in parts of Iran).

So, ask yourself which scenario is more likely to lead to the collapse of Iraqi national integrity post-Saddam:

  1. A powerful heavily armed US force of 40,000 or more rolls into Northern Iraq, assisted by about 50,000 lightly armed anti-Saddam Kurdish guerillas from various factions… Ba’athism collapses eventually but US forces are in position to maintain order in the North and keep a reign on the political situation when Mosul and Kirkuk fall, ensuring that the Kurdish factions which can tolerate the notion of an autonomous Kurdistan within Iraq are not pushed out (or ever wiped out) by those demanding nothing less that Independent Kurdistan.

  2. or… A lightly armed force of not more that 2,000 allied paratroopers and special forces is operating in Northern Iraq, assisted by 50,000 lightly armed anti-Saddam Kurdish guerillas from various factions. Ba’athism collapses eventually but when Mosul and Kirkuk fall, the majority of the forces which arrive are Kurdish Peshmerga whose political views are very hard to judge.

So hands up who thinks that option 2 is vastly more likely to lead to Kurdish separatists doing exactly what the Turks fear?

If Mosul or Kirkuk fall to the Kurds alone, will the US be willing to shoot their way into those largely Kurdish cities if they are not invited in? What if the local (armed) Kurds politely say “Greetings honoured American soldiers! As we have taken care of the local Ba’athists, your noble, fraternal and well armed presence is not needed here, thank you very much, and have a nice journey home oh glorious brothers in arms”. I really doubt the US wants to fight the Kurds for what is a messy internal matter. Of course if the troops turning up at the outskirts of Mosul and Kirkuk are Turks, get ready for a war-within-a-war from the moment the two forces come within sight of each other.

Only time will tell what the outcome will be but if the Turks do not get their nightmare scenario materializing, they should thank their lucky stars because their actions made it far more likely to occur.

I suppose we will know in a few weeks!

20 comments to Turkey may have scored an ‘own goal’

  • Sandy P.

    The Professor had a good link as another scenario.

    Kurds stay in Iraq, the others migrate, they become about 1/3 of the population and Iraq becomes successful. Don’t need a separate state.

    I think that’s how it went.

    The best revenge is living well, and the Kurds could do it. Sometimes it’s better to live well and be a power behind the curtain instead of having everyone gunning for you.

  • David Crawford

    Turkey definitely needs to pay a price for making the coalition’s war more difficult. And I know what the perfect punishment should be: Admission to the EU. Oh, the horror, the horror.

  • Jacob

    Yeah !
    I whish them to have Chirac as a friend.

  • Matt D

    Lets not forget that little side trip Mr Powell made which has allowed us to truck in supplies from Turkey, all said and done we do have a presents there.

  • Rifle308

    Your “Turkish nightmare” scenario is one of the reasons I agree with those who argue we should have twice or more the ground forces we do in Iraq. Keeping Iraq together, and dealing with the remaining feyadeen/mafia goons and the reported possibility of Iran sneaking in guerillas of their own will reguire US troop “Presence” if Iraq is to be the democratic showcase of the Middle East we hope to make it. Heck it may be necessary to post troops on the borders of both Syria and Iran as both would love to thwart any possible good results of “regime change”, for obvious reasons.

  • The French and the Germans have no intention of ever admitting Turkey to the EU.

    The Turks have an interest as a result in building their own trade zone along the old Silk Road with oil-rich and oil-poor Central Asian republics alike – countries like Kazakhstan (covering an area the size of western Europe), Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan etc. Five of those countries speak Turkic languages related to Turkish.

    Turkey’s economy (based on trade) is the size of Russia’s (based on raw materials).

    This, as much as the Kurds, is the Turkish strategic Great Game.

  • Cmdr. Subfleet

    Word Nazi Alert:

    To: Matt D.

    The word is presence, not presents!



  • Brian Micklethwait

    This comment was added in error to another posting

    The deep underlying problem is this: back in the 20’s the Turks used the Kurds to exterminate the Armenians and rewarded them with territory. This is a cancer under the Turk-Kurd relationship because the Armenians are pressing world wide for reparations that could total a billion dollars. The Turks fear the Kurds “ratting them out” in the courts and won’t hesitate killing them all if they feel this might happen. The Kurds fear the Turks because of it.

    This is the “dirty little secret” out there and the Armenians keep pressing.

    This is very serious over there. More details at


    Howard Veit


  • Laria Dalton

    It is the US responsibility not to turn this into
    a civil war.
    The people of Turkey did not support this war.
    It is our job to make sure there are not unintended
    consequences among the Khurds and Turks.

  • Stephen M. St. Onge

    According to this Washington Post story, the Turks thought their refusal would stop us from attacking!

    Friends, we have a serious communications problem here. How do we communicate to foreigners thekind of people we are?

  • UncleDuke

    The bigger fear is what the peshmerga do in N. Iraq before they become a nightmare for Turkey. Will they do a reverse ethnic cleansing? What happens when a peshmerga goes to his former residence in Kirkuk and finds it occupied by a Sunni from Bagdhad?

    Furthermore, the Kurds getting their semi-autonomous state will keep their peshmerga’s armed and use the stockpiles of the iraqi army. This could give the Turks serious problems. After all its not a stretch to think some of these arms will end up in the hands of Kurds fighting Turkey.

    Good job by the Turks. Piss of the US, screw up their economy and cause problems with the Kurds for years to come.

    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, stabbing yourself in the stomach and inflicting a head wound.

  • Sandy P.

    We have a communication problem?

    No, they don’t know America. We always have more than 1 plan.

    Cripes, we could pay $1 bil for the turks to leave the kurds alone.

    All we have to do is stop Byrd from sending any more pork to WV.

  • Richard A. Heddleson

    I agree with Ms Dalton, so let’s fully intend all the consequences the Turks suffer at the hands of the Kurds.

  • Mark

    Hey Stephen M. St. Onge,

    I think this little tete-a-tete in Iraq is the communication.

    And Sanda, speaking as a West Virginia expatriate, even I agree Sen. Byrd is in serious need of a 12 step program for pork. I am tired of seeing his name on everything when I drive home for Thanksgiving.

  • Jacob

    Everybody seems to agree that it is important to keep the integrity of Iraq, to prevent it’s disintegration.
    Why exactely is that so important ??
    Why is it necessary to impose on the various tribes or ethnic communities in Iraq a political solution devised by some colonial powers almost a century ago?
    Let the Iraqi people and tribes sort out this mess the best they can. Iraqi integrity is not a supreme goal.

  • Kevin L. Connors

    Very good piece, Perry. However, you fail to recognize that, under the status quo, the Kurds are likely to emerge far more heavily armed than they would have been were the 4th ID to have deployed via Turkey.

    I see nothing wrong with an independant Kurdish state. but it will be up to the US to quell any extraterritorial aspirations they might hold. This will be difficult to resolve to our other doctrines in the case of Iran and Syria.

  • Jacob

    “it will be up to the US to quell any extraterritorial aspirations they [the Kurds] might hold. ”
    Why ? Must the US micromanage the affairs of all tribes and conflicts everywhere ? Is it possible?
    I think it is enough for the US do deal with situations where threats of international terrorism appear.
    Ignore all other local conflicts. Let the people involved resolve their mess the best they can.

  • FeloniousPunk

    Uncle Duke:

    Good job by the Turks. Piss of the US, screw up their economy and cause problems with the Kurds for years to come.

    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, stabbing yourself in the stomach and inflicting a head wound.

    That’s just par for the course – the Turks more or less created their Kurdish problem anyway, they’re just sticking to what they know it seems.

  • Bill Ernoehazy

    It is not impossible to make more than one “own goal” in the course of a game. Turkey may do it again if the generals decide that a coup d’etat is the answer for Turkey’s woes.

    It is not impossible that in such a case, the Turkish army would find its hands full with Islamicist militias, irregular groups, and Iranian-funded “revolutionary brigades”… leaving the Kurdish south to look north, at the chaos, and contemplate the back door.

    A Kurdistan, amalgamating out of Turkish chaos *first*, strengthened by the addition of the northern Iraqi Kurdish enclave… and Iran stuck trying to decide where to send troops overtly.

    The Turks should tread *very very carefully* in their own matters, just now.

  • Jacob

    People forget there is not one Kurdish enclave in Northern Iraq, but two, with two chiefs that usually are busier fighting each other than fighting the Iraqis or Turks. I can’t say that I understand what is going on there, and I am skeptical about all this commentary. Maybe it is a good thing that the US isn’t too heavilly commited in that zone, thanks to the Turks.