Turkey's prime minister said on Friday his cabinet had authorized the armed forces to conduct a cross-border operation against Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq, but analysts said major action did not appear imminent.Here's the reason this recent move could be seen as an escalation of an already tense situation;
Tayyip Erdogan's comments, following up on a parliamentary resolution last month and emergency talks with U.S. President George W. Bush, seemed chiefly designed to keep up pressure on U.S. and Iraqi forces to honor pledges to tackle the PKK.
"We took our cabinet meeting decision on November 28 and with the president's approval our Turkish Armed Forces are now authorized for a cross-border operation from November 28," Erdogan said in televised comments.
Turkey has amassed up to 100,000 troops near the mountainous border, backed up by tanks, artillery and warplanes, for a possible strike into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq against rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) hiding there.
That resolution is valid for one year. The cabinet decision this week effectively frees up the generals to act as they see necessary without seeking further political approval.Following on the heels of airstrikes, this move could destabilize Iraq just as the GOP is trumpeting Bush's supposedly successful surge.
Three top U.S. generals have visited Ankara in the past 10 days to discuss intelligence sharing with the Turkish military.
Northern Iraqi Kurdish authorities have also taken steps to stop supplies reaching the PKK rebels in the mountains.- Advertisement -
But government ministers repeated again this week that they expected more concrete action from U.S. and Iraqi forces against the PKK, blamed by Ankara for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group began its armed separatist insurgency in 1984.