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Is a new war in Iraq looming on the horizon?
Daryoush Bavar

TEHRAN (Press TV) -- The catastrophe of the Iraq war has been detrimental to the Iraqi people and consequently the entire region.

The U.S.-led invasion opened a Pandora's Box, leading to a non-ending cycle of insecurity and violence as well as mounting tension between the country and its neighbors.

With Turkey now at the brink of attacking Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels based in northern Iraq, is a new war in Iraq looming on the horizon?

Turkey is poised to launch a massive cross-border raid on Northern Iraq, where an estimated 3,000 PKK rebels use the region as a base to launch attacks against Turkish troops.

Ankara has continually demanded that Washington and Baghdad take measures to prevent the attacks and expel the separatist rebels.

Although Baghdad has promised to address the problem, it has effectively done nothing. And U.S. military commander in northern Iraq, Major General Benjamin Mixon, has announced that he has no plans to make moves against the PKK.

As patience wears dangerously thin, Ankara has given both the U.S. administration and Iraqi government a stark warning against their inaction.

Tensions have escalated further in recent weeks, following a series of PKK attacks that left dozens of Turkish soldiers dead.

Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that, ""Turkey will exercise its rights under international law to strike at the terrorist organization, the PKK, if Iraq does not act on its promises to eliminate the presence of the group from northern Iraq.""

The terrorist group has been blamed for thousands of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and acts of sabotage over the past two decades.

Formed in late 1970s, the PKK launched an armed insurgency in 1984 in its quest for separating the Kurdish regions from Turkey. In the 1990s, the group, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and EU, dropped independence demands, but has since been seeking greater autonomy.

Over 30,000 people have been killed since the PKK began its insurgency.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Kurds have been able to form a semi-autonomous regional government, under the protection of U.S. forces.

The PKK rebels have found Iraq's Kurdistan a safe haven where they have access to valuable logistic support. The group ended a five-year ceasefire in 2004 and stepped up its attacks inside the Turkish territories.

Turkish newspapers have slammed NATO for its alleged support of the PKK, while saying that U.S. forces are arming the militant group in Iraq. They say this is part of a U.S. plot to hinder the democratic process in Turkey and prevent the election of a popular government in the country.

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, published in October, the Kurdish guerrillas, and their sister group, PJAK, are also being funded by the U.S. to wage a clandestine war in northwestern Iran.

Turkey, a NATO ally of the U.S., has grown frustrated with the protection and support that the U.S. and Israel are giving to the PKK.

The U.S., EU and NATO have been urging Turkey not to launch military attacks against the PKK. However, Ankara is under increasing domestic pressure to act.

Turkey's President, Abdullah Gul, has stated that, ""Even though Turkey respects the sovereignty and unity of Iraq, her patience has come to an end and will not allow Iraqi soil to be used for terrorist activities. ""

The local government of Iraq's Kurdistan, on the other hand, has warned Turkey that it would resist any Turkish incursion. The Iraqi government has made efforts to crackdown on the PKK and called for a political solution.

Washington has condemned the PKK attacks, and promised to do everything possible to prevent their activities in Iraq.

White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, has said that the United States continues to urge the Iraqis and the Turks to exercise restraint, amid escalating tension.

However, these calls for restraint, while simultaneously pressuring Pakistan into attacking Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants on the Pakistani border regions, only highlight the U.S. hypocritical foreign policy.

Egemen Bagis, Foreign Policy Advisor to the Turkish Prime Minister, has said ""The U.S. crossed the Atlantic in the name of fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey is helping the U.S. in Afghanistan. And yet it doesn't allow Turkey, a NATO ally, to cross its own border for the same reasons. What sort of a friendship is this? This is how enemies behave. ""

A recent poll by the Pew organization found that only 9% of Turks have a positive view about the U.S., while over 75% are concerned that the Americans could pose a military threat to their country.

With anti-U.S. sentiments running high in Turkey, if Washington fails to crackdown on the PKK, a full-scale Turkish attack may be inevitable.

Such an attack would not only result in a bloody conflict in northern Iraq, but also undermine Ankara's ties with Washington


 

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