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Keeping an Eye on Turkey

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I would recommend keeping an eye on what Turkey is doing. As I have discussed elsewhere (here and here), the conflict between the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey places the United States in a precarious position.

Increasingly, Iraq has segregated into ethnic and sectarian regions. This has largely been a response to the tremendous levels of violence and the dislocation it has forced. Regardless, the effect has been increasing segregation. Since before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the independent Kurdish region in northern Iraq has been a major ally of the United States. Turkey is also an ally of the United States - though that relationship has had its ups and downs. Since the United States is the primary standing army in Iraq, one of the responsibilities is to protect Iraq's borders and sovereignty. The U.S. response to the repeated incursions and military strikes by Turkey into the Kurdish region raises questions and issues. As the situation heated up in December 2007 and Turkey began an official over-the-border military response into Iraq, it was reported that the United States approved those attacks. This news was quickly denied any such approval. However, given that the incursions have continued over the ongoing vocal opposition of the Iraqi government, it is clear that the U.S. has at least agreed to look the other way. Perhaps I am a bit paranoid, but one must ask why the U.S. has not controlled the PKK itself and set up to stop the repeated Turkish strikes into Iraq. There could be bargains within bargains going on here. In relationship to Iraq, the U.S. may be tacitly supporting the incursions to apply pressure to both the Kurds and the Iraqi government to sign the Production Sharing Agreements which all Iraqi partners have resisted. However, accessing and controlling the petroleum resources of northern Iraq could also be accomplished via annexation of the Kurdish region by Turkey. Turkey now has its oil and gas pipeline (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan). See map below and related article.
Caspian Pipeline Map

Picture is from the EIA Azerbaijan Country Analysis Now Turkey is click here target="_blank" title="Ramachadran, 2/27/08, Asia Times, Turkey offers oil pipe lifeline to India">reaching out to India to negotiate oil and gas provision. The plan calls for tapping the pipeline and shipping via super tankers via Israel (oh that is interesting as well) to India which currently imports nearly 70% of its oil and gas supply. This relationship between Turkey and India might find high approval from the U.S. as it is in U.S. interests to support India as a neighbor and competitor to China (should China get to fractious or powerful). Such a speculation is supported to some extent by the U.S. provision and support of nuclear technology for India. The question remains whether protection of the Kurds and Iraq from Turkish incursions is even on the table to get the PSA control of Iraq's oil, or if this is a "back-up plan," or both.


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Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.

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