US Clashes with PKK in Iraq; Turks Complain of Lack of Influence
Turkish Chief of Staff Hilmi Ozkok has complained that the US is showing favoritism to Iraqi Kurds. He said in an interview with Radikal, “The United States favours the group in the north a little too much. We don’t know what shape Iraq will take, because we don’t know the internal situation. They are doing some things. We don’t have the right to a say in the matter because we are not there.”
He expressed worries about Kurdish autonomy, which would threaten Turkey (it has a large Kurdish population in Anatolia), and about potential Iranian influence in the Shiite south.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, meanwhile, has announced that US forces, supported by peshmerga, have clashed with Kurdish PKK fighters. The Kurdish Workers’ Party or PKK waged a long and bitter guerilla war against Turkey, and 5,000 of its fighters are said to be in Iraq. The peshmerga are Kurdish paramilitaries generally loyal to either Massoud Barzani or Jalal Talabani, both of whom serve on the Iraqi Interim Governing council. They have clashed with the PKK in the past.
Presumably this limited US operation against the PKK was intended to mollify Turkish public opinion.