TURKEY AND IRAN ATTACK KURDS IN IRAQ
250,000 IRANIAN TROOPS DEPLOYED, DOUBLE THE US FORCES
TEHRAN, WASHINGTON, ANKARA, DAMASCUS AND BAGHDAD LOCKED IN A VICIOUS FIGHT BARELY REPORTED IN THE WEST
From the Asia Times : "Both Turkey and Iran have been launching military raids into northern Iraq against a Kurdish paramilitary group that is based there, posing a dangerous new threat to stability both within Iraq and to the region.
"The Iraq-based Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), labeled a terrorist group by the United States, Britain and the European Union, is a paramilitary party that preaches Kurdish nationalism, especially in Turkey, where it is demanding political rights and better living standards for the country's 12 million Kurds.
"Turkey recently launched a massive military operation involving more than 250,000 troops against the PKK (nearly double the number of US troops in Iraq), concentrated in the mountains along Turkey's borders with Iran and Iraq.
"Iran, meanwhile, has begun attacks on PKK units based in Iran, and the Iranian military has entered Iraqi territory in hot pursuit of PKK militants. This represents a different approach from recent years, when Turkey regularly accused Tehran of turning a blind eye to the PKK in Iran.
"The Baghdad government has objected, claiming a violation of its sovereignty, but both countries insist that they are acting in self-defense. "
"To avoid a confrontation, a flurry of diplomacy has taken place in Turkey. Over the past week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Ankara. So did members of the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, and Ali Larijani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief negotiator on Iran's nuclear portfolio.
"...Turkey has found an ally in the form of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has shown the will - and the army - to support the Turks in combating the PKK.
"Ahmadinejad's support for Turkey's offensive on the PKK in Iraq is naturally in Iran's own interests, but it is also aimed at acquiring a new, strong friend for Tehran in its confrontation with the international community over its nuclear program. Reportedly, Ahmadinejad even told the Turks that he would share his nuclear technology with them.
"For their part, the Kurds have been trying to appease the Turks to avoid a head-on clash, knowing that the consequences would bring devastation to the safe and booming region of Kurdistan, crippling security and foreign investment.
"The only ones, sadly, who have no agenda for Iraq are the Iraqis themselves, caught as they now are in a vicious battle among Tehran, Washington, Ankara, Damascus and Baghdad. "
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