TURKEY, IRAN LINE UP TO CRUSH KURDISH UPRISING
US FACES DIFFICULT CHOICE OF BACKING KURDS
THE FIGHT FOR A HOMELAND IN THE LATEST BATTLE ZONE OF WORLD WAR IV
Patrick Cockburn of the UK Independent writes : "Shell craters and dead branches torn off the trees by explosions mark the places in the mountains of northern Iraq targeted by Iranian artillery firing across the border in a serious escalation of the confrontation between Iran and the US.
"Frightened villagers, whose farms cling to the sides of the deep valleys below Kandil mountain, ran for their lives as Iran opened fire on Iraqi territory for the first time since the US invasion in 2003. Local officials said about 2,000 shells were fired in four hours.
"The old saying of the Kurds that they 'have no friends but the mountains' is truest here among the towering peaks along on the frontier with Iran.
"For the first time in their tragic history the Kurds believe they are close to being recognised as a nation within Iraq but they fear that their powerful neighbours - Iran, Syria and Turkey - will snatch away their victory at the last moment.
"For several years the area has been controlled by heavily armed Kurdish guerrillas from the Turkish Kurd PKK movement, which conducts operations across the border in Iran."
From The Assyrian International News Agency : "In Turkey...armored personnel carriers and tanks rumble along its remote border with Iraq's Kurdish zone. Turkey has sent tens of thousands of fresh soldiers in the last few weeks to beef up an already formidable force there.
"The Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq are the country's most stable and prosperous area. But to neighboring Iran and Turkey, both with large Kurdish minorities, they are something else: an inspiration and a support base for the Kurdish militants in their own countries.
"So Iran and Turkey are sending troops, tanks and artillery to the frontier to seal off the borders and send a message: If the U.S.-backed Iraqi government doesn't clamp down on Kurdish guerrillas who use Iraq as a base, they could do it themselves.
"That has left the United States in a quandary. If U.S. forces take action, they risk alienating Iraqi Kurds, the most pro-American group in the region. And if they don't, they risk increased tensions -- and possibly worse -- with two powerful rivals."The traditional Kurdish region spans Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria and the guerrillas are based in a mountain range of northern Iraq that stretches into Turkey and Iran. They seem determined to keep up their decades-long struggle (for an independent homeland).
"Some analysts say that besides sealing off their borders to the guerrillas, both Iran and Turkey may be trying to intimidate Iraqi Kurds. The Iranians and Turks fear Kurdish success in creating an autonomous region in northern Iraq, and the prosperity of their enclave, could encourage their own Kurdish minorities.
"Turkish officials have hinted to the United States that they are considering a large-scale military operation across the border.
"In a visit to Turkey in late April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned against any major strike.
"'We want anything we do to contribute to stability in Iraq and not to threaten that stability or to make a difficult situation worse,' Rice said."TURKEY AND IRAN LAUNCH RAIDS INTO IRAQ