Neocons vs Realists
Two articles in the last edition of The Economist shed much light on the situation in Kurdistan and on one of the regular dilemas of the US policies in the Middle East. The famous Middle Eastern Haiku summarises all the dilemmas of the region in this way:
My enemy is my enemy
My enemy's enemy is my enemy
I have no friends
Here we go. The Iraqi Kurds, who created an island of stability and prosperity in the middle of the bloody and muddy Iraqi sea, are now getting over-confident and creating another problem for the, mired in the great Middle Eastern swamp, Yankees. Specifically, the Kurds in Iraq refuse to fight their brethren from Turkey, who from the bases in Northern Iraq keep waging their guerilla war against the Turks.
The ceasefire declared by the PKK (Turkish Kurds) no longer holds and the PKK threatens to go on the offensive. Turkey is still waiting for the US and Iraqi Kurds to get hold of the situation. However, unlike the previous years the Kurds in Iraq refuse to be helpful and instead are strengthening ties with their Turkish cousins many of whom work and study in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdish autonomy in Iraq is quickly transforming itself into a socio-economic hub of the Kurdish minorities across the region.
In parallel, a Kurdish insurgency claiming to be 2000 strong is developing in Iran and of course there is still a Kurdish minority in Syria. The Kurds are worried by Baker's recommendations about USA engaging Syria/Iran, fearing their national aspirations would be further compromised as a result.
But the most acute situation is developing around the PKK and its continued insurgency. The Turks are losing patience and threatening an invasion of Northern Iraq, which the Iraqi Kurds are apparently determined to fight back. This creates another point of confrontation between the Neocons and Realists. The Economist explains the US predicament:
A vigorous debate is taking place in Washington. The self-described realists favour Turkey: the country is a tested ally and far bigger, richer and more powerful than today's fledgling Iraqi Kurdistan. The neoconservatives may favour holding on, at all costs, to the only solid ally within a federal Iraq, namely the Kurdish regional government. But the mood may recently have shifted in favour of the Turks. "The Iraqi Kurds are not the angels they were made out to be," says an American official.
With Turks and Kurds digging their heels in, the Americans hint that they may be resigned to a limited Turkish operation that aims at PKK bases close to the Turkish border; and they would tell the Iraqi Kurds to stay put. But some in the Bush administration say the Americans should actually help Turkey swat the PKK in Iraq. "At this rate," says another American official, "we're not only going to lose Iraq but Turkey too." That, for America, is a prospect too ghastly to contemplate.
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