Gonul: We can Go in Anytime
Turkish Minister of Defense Vecdi Gonul said Tuesday that Turkey retains the right to send reinforcements for its troops deployed near Northern Iraq to deal with threats from what he called Kurdish rebels. That included incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan.
It now seems increasingly unlikely that Turkey will send troops to Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, because of the opposition of the Interim Governing Council.
Meanwhile, Turkish Ambassador to the US Osman Faruk Logoglu said Tuesday that the US was favoring the Kurds in Iraq too much, which would encourage them to break away and establish their own Kurdish state. He said the US should not give in to the Kurdish demand for a very loose federation. He also objected to Washington’s having appointed 5 Kurdish members of the 25-person Interim Governing Council, which he said was too much. (It is 20% of the members; about 16% of Iraqis are Kurds; I’d say that is ballpark). He complained that the Turkmen got only one seat (since they are like 500,000 people in a population of 25 million, he should be glad they got a seat at all).
For years Turks refused to accept the very idea that there were any Kurds, and suppressed Kurdish culture, fearful of a breakaway Kurdish state in Eastern Anatolia. The Turkish government has lightened up recently, but the condescending and even racist ideas about Kurds in Ankara still come through loud and clear in these sorts of pronouncements.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Sunni Arab leader Muzhir al-Dileymi declared on Turkish television that Turkish troops must come to Iraq, otherwise the Kurds would ultimately secede and break up the country. He said, “Unless Turkish troops come Iraq will be separated.” Of the recent foreign ministers’ meeting of neighbors in Damascuse, he said, “I have told them that Kurds want to divide Iraq.”
A lot of Sunni Arab Iraqis don’t want Turkish troops either, though, and mayors in the Sunni triangle have spoken out against the idea of Turkish troops coming. So I doubt al-Dileymi represents many Iraqis. The Turks put him on t.v. because he is saying what they want to hear.