Turkey bombed the Amadiya area of northern Iraq on Saturday. Ankara said that it was targeting bases of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla organization. The PKK stands accused of killing over two dozen Turkish troops in recent months. Turkey says that the culprits then cross into Iraq, where they are given safe haven by the Kurdistan Regional Authority of Massoud Barzani.
The Turkish chief of staff says that the US implicitly endorses these bombing raids on American-occupied Iraq. He is correct, since the US controls Iraqi air space and Turkish jets could not scramble over Iraqi Kurdistan if the US had not provided Ankara with “Identify Friend or Foe” codes. Otherwise the Turkish planes would risk being perceived as hostiles by the US Air Force, and would therefor risk being shot down.
In other news of northern Iraq, the constitutionally mandated referendum in Kirkuk has been delayed for six months on a United Nations recommendation. Kirkuk is ethically mixed, but the Kurds wish to annex it to their Kurdistan Regional Government, a region that now encompasses three former nothern provinces. Kirkuk is more ethnically mixed than the others, however, and the annexation will likely provoke violence by Turkmen and Arabs who do not want to be dragooned into a Kurdish mini-state.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Iraqi premier Barham Salih said that Kirkuk belongs to the Kurds, and that the postponement of the referendum would rob Kurdistan of what was rightfully hers. Abdullah Gul, now the Turkish president, had threatened, when he was minister of foreign affairs, that if the Kurds annexed Kirkuk, Turkey would invade to prevent it.
Washington is petrified that the repeated Turkish incursions will throw northern Iraq into chaos.
Speaking of chaos, guerrillas bombed a mosque in northern Pakistan, killing 50 person, on Saturday. Barnett Rubin explains this horrific event as part of a concerted plan by al-Qaeda and the neo-Taliban in Pakistan to cut off and surround the northern city of Peshawar.