14 October 2003

Betraying the Kurds again?

Peters, a columnist for the right-wing New York Post, finds himself in the unusual position of being in agreement with longtime leftist Clare Short, Tony Blair's former secretary of international development. Even as she traveled to Washington to argue that the occupation needs to be internationalized, she told Salon last week, 'It's better not to have Turkish troops there, because there's too much complex politics and history. It's a further destabilizing development.'

With virtual unanimity, analysts, scholars and veterans from across the political spectrum say that, moral issues aside, introducing Turkish soldiers into an already volatile ethnic and sectarian situation is counterproductive. 'The decision is a very bad one, for Turkey and for Washington,' says Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA during the Reagan administration and author of 'The Future of Political Islam.' Fuller, like many others, believes Turkish troops will further fracture the region, causing tensions in the north, spurring other neighboring governments, especially Iran, to step up their involvement in Iraq, and, if things go wrong, potentially weakening America's important strategic relationship with Turkey.

'Iran will see this as an effort by Turkey to create a foothold in Iraq,' he says, and will be likely to send more of its own proxies into the country. He also dismisses the American hope that shared religion will lead to Turkish rapport with the Iraqis in the fractious Sunni triangle. 'My sense is that Turkey will be treated as the functional equivalent of Americans,' he says. 'This business of being fellow Muslims will have no relevance. Indeed, you could argue that Turkey has baggage from being a former colonial power.'

Really, it's hard to imagine what's coming next. These people refused to transfer sovereignty to the UN because, they said, they would only transfer it to Iraqis. The Iraqi Governing Council sic is vigorously opposed to this decision. Does that matter to the Bush raj? And does that virtual unanimity of scholars and experts matter either? Obviously not.

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