Thousands of Turkish forces invade northern Iraq

This goes in the “not good news” category. As AJ is off enjoying himself in Italy, I get to do the defense update today. In a nutshell, Turkey is worried, has been worried, about the Kurds in northern Iraq. (You’ll recall that Iraq is mainly made up of three groups, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias.) Turkey has a good number of Kurds in eastern Turkey – 20% of Turkey’s entire population is Kurdish, and 50% of the entire Kurdish diaspora is in Turkey. Some of those Kurds started a violent separatist movement in the 1980s, and the damage done has been real:

The war escalated dramatically in the early 1990s. Between 1984-91, an estimated 2,500 people had been killed. Over the next four years, that figure shot up to 20,000. Some 3,000 villages have been destroyed by the military in an effort to rout out PKK sympathizers, creating more than 2 million refugees.

Turkey does not want to see the Kurds in northern Iraq gain their independence, lest the Kurds in Turkey choose to join them, splitting Turkey in two and leading to all-out civil war. But if Turkey invades Iraq in order to quell the anti-Turk insurgents there, the question remains as to how many troops Turkey will send, how far into Iraq they will go, and just how long they plan to stay. Will Turkey effectively annex northern Iraq? And what will that do to US efforts to quell the growing civil war nationwide? In effect, we’d have yet another all-out war to deal with in the north. And it’s not clear whose side we’d choose – Turkey is a NATO ally and we could not accept the division of Turkey, but are we really going to start down the path of dividing up Iraq, which not only could make the current civil war explode even bigger, it could end up creating a Shia state that sides with Iran.

Not a lot of good options, here. Keep an eye on how many troops the Turks are really sending, how far into Iraq they go, and how long they remain.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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