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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:06 PM

Turkish minister's Kirkuk visit infuriates Iraq

KIRKUK, Iraq — Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Thursday without informing Baghdad, infuriating Iraq and bringing relations to a new low.

Davutoglu made the side-trip to Kirkuk while on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, whose leaders have long called for the incorporation of the ethnically divided oil city in their autonomous region in the north, against strong opposition from Baghdad.

Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that along with oil contracts are the two main points of contention between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.

The Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement saying that "it is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate the national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jD_W2IL_AnNHbvg2INSMXvsdrq_Q?docId=CNG.9a3b132f11893ca20b522fb446b69f9b.791

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Reply Turkish minister's Kirkuk visit infuriates Iraq (Original post)
bemildred Aug 2012 OP
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #1
bemildred Aug 2012 #2
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #3
bemildred Aug 2012 #5
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #6
bemildred Aug 2012 #7
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #8
bemildred Aug 2012 #9
bemildred Aug 2012 #10
The Magistrate Aug 2012 #11
bemildred Aug 2012 #12
amandabeech Aug 2012 #14
bemildred Aug 2012 #15
amandabeech Aug 2012 #16
amandabeech Aug 2012 #13
Fozzledick Aug 2012 #4
bemildred Aug 2012 #17
bemildred Aug 2012 #18
bemildred Aug 2012 #19
bemildred Aug 2012 #20

Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:12 PM

1. Shades Of the Early Twenties, Sir

Back then, Gen. Kemal was backing Kurdish bodies to detach Kirkuk and Mosul from the English. The old Turk seems to be feeling his Wheaties a bit again, nowadays....

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:16 PM

2. Indeed, Sir.

I am starting to worry, this could go on for a long time, it could get bigger very easily. People will be talking about the Kurdish war soon.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:19 PM

3. They Might Well, Sir

It is odd all around. The regions where Turkey borders Syria are largely Kurdish, if recollection serves. Even while suppressing Kurdish aspirations in Anatolia itself, Turkey has often been their champion elsewhere. And of course, Turkey holds trumps of water in regards to both Iraq and Syria.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:29 PM

5. Yes Sir, there are four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria

with substantial Kurdish minorities, and the Kurds have been there longer than all of them, if I remember correctly. It is a recipe for conflict. But almost impossible to forsee what would happen, it starts out messy and gets messier. One of the reasons given, back in the day, for the Iraq War being foolish was precisely this sort of destabiization.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:48 PM

6. Not Sure About the Time Sequence, Sir, But Definitely Different From the Neighbors

Many look positively Celtic; red hair, pale eyes.

The old Ottoman used them as local enforcers on just that ground; when people in Mesopotamia or Syria seemed to be getting out of line, Kurdish irregulars were let loose on them while the Turkish garrison stood aside. There is a lot of bad blood, given the longevity of memory for such things there....

"They must continually be given fresh grievances, lest they fall to recalling old ones."

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:55 PM

7. I got that idea from Farley Mowat, I think.

A book callled "The Farfarers". He compared them (Kurds) to the Basques, the Berbers, old peoples, and speculated that the early inhabitants of Scotland and Ireland were similarly old, before the Celts. I don't know how he sourced that, never looked further into it, though he had plenty of footnotes and told a good story.

That's all from memory, so ...

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Response to bemildred (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:01 PM

8. They Are In The Mountains, Sir, And That Is Usually the Oldest Surviving Local Layer

I was in the Berber country, the Atlas Mts. in Morocco, for a bit when I was young, and most of the people I saw you could have dropped off in a Polish or Ukrainian neighborhood in Chicago without anyone batting an eye at the newcomer's appearance. I was quite surprised.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:06 PM

9. Yes Sir, that's it, that's what he was talking about. nt

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:08 PM

10. Brings to mind the Rif War.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #10)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:17 PM

11. Which Everyone Has Forgotten, Too, Sir

Actually, if one looks close, there was quite an outbreak of Moslem opposition to Western incursion in the years after the Great War, running from Afghanistan to Morocco, and from 1919 to 1925.

One of the odder things to issue from it was the force that pretty much decided the Spanish Civil War, Millan d'Astray's brain-child, which Franco commanded for most of the Riff War.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #11)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:24 PM

12. Yes Sir, "Rebels in the Rif" and Abd El Krim

You turned me on to that, and a good read it was too. And Mr Thomas' work on the Spanish Civil War.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 09:09 PM

14. Hello, bemildred! Would you care to comment on Fozzledick's post regarding

the Assad government's grant of autonomy to the Syrian Kurdish area?

I thank you and The Magistrate for an excellent thread. I found it very informative.

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #14)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 08:19 AM

15. Very little to add.

Last edited Sat Aug 4, 2012, 09:12 AM - Edit history (1)

Fozzle is talking about much the same thing as we two, near as I can see.

Mr Assad is rolling the dice, throwing a giant monkey wrench into the current arrangements, doing what he can to harm his enemies. A few years back IIRC he suppressed a Kurdish insurrection in the NorthEast. Now he is letting them go. Prediction is a mugs game.

One may infer that he (Assad & Co.) has given up on restoration of the status quo ante as a goal. Right now he doesn't seem to have anywhere to go either.

I expect Syria to now fragment or go federal like Iraq, in the midst of a civil war, what happens to the pieces, who knows?

It is significant now, I think, that the Kurds will have money (from oil), and allies. Puts the US and Israel in an awkward situation (having to pick a side in Kurd/Turk dispute). Puts Turkey in an awkward situation. Puts Iraq in an awkward situation (dispute over who gets the oil money, issues of central authority). So we have exacerbated all the usual disagreements plus serious heating up of the Kurdish/Turkish dispute, which had been in abeyance.

Edit: I will add that Mr Assad shows an unerring eye for the keystone of the situation, the place to throw the biggest monkey wrench. I am impressed with the sang froid. But then he would know.

Edit2: and don't forget Iran.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #15)

Sat Aug 4, 2012, 07:21 PM

16. Thank you very much.

The Syrian situation certainly will be one to watch.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #11)

Fri Aug 3, 2012, 09:06 PM

13. Sir, would you care to comment on Fozzledick's post on this thread

regarding Syria's grant of autonomy to the Syrian Kurdish area?

Thank you and Bemildred for this excellent thread.

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Response to The Magistrate (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 12:24 PM

4. Meanwhile, Syria creates a Kurdish autonomous zone for rebels to attack Turkey.

It's getting so you can't tell the players without a scorecard.

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Sun Aug 5, 2012, 11:18 AM

17. Turkey: 20 dead in clashes with Kurdish rebels

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Kurdish rebels raided three military posts in simultaneous attacks near the border with Iraq early on Sunday, sparking a clash at one paramilitary outpost that left six soldiers and 14 rebels dead, officials and news reports said. Two government-paid village guards assisting the Turkish military were also killed.

The rebels fired on military posts in Hakkari province that border Iraq, including the paramilitary station near the village of Gecimli, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the frontier, according to a statement from the Hakkari governor's office.

Gov. Orhan Alimoglu said the attack near Gecimli triggered clashes that claimed the lives of 22 rebels, soldiers and village guards. At least 15 soldiers, another village guard and five civilians were also injured in the attack. There were no reports of any casualties in the attacks on the other posts.

The attack comes some six weeks after a similar raid on a military unit, also in Hakkari province, killed 18 rebels and eight soldiers, prompting Turkey's military to send warplanes and attack helicopters to hit Kurdish rebel targets inside Iraq.

http://www.chron.com/news/article/Turkey-20-dead-in-clashes-with-Kurdish-rebels-3763865.php

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 09:02 AM

18. Syrian Intelligence Arming Kurdish Rebels in Turkey, Sabah Says

Syria’s government is arming the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, as it battles Turkish security forces in the country’s southeast, the Sabah newspaper reported, citing Turkish security officials.

The Syrian intelligence service is supplying arms including rocket launchers and anti-aircraft weapons to the PKK, Istanbul- based Sabah said. Syrian-supplied weaponry was used in an attack over the weekend that killed six Turkish soldiers and two village guards, it said.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-06/syrian-intelligence-arming-kurdish-rebels-in-turkey-sabah-says

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 09:04 AM

19. How the Kurds Have Changed Turkey’s Calculations on Syria

For many years, the Kurdish tragedy was poignantly illustrated by the gifts and sweets stuffed through gaps in a barbed-wire fence, the babies held high and the news shared across the closed Syria-Turkey border. Every religious holiday saw thousands of people dressed in their finest line the border at dawn just to see their relatives on the other side of a boundary arbitrarily drawn by Britain and France after World War I. The nation states invented by the war’s victorious Western powers left the Kurds divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, each of which sought to deny and suppress Kurdish identity.

Almost a century later, however, the geopolitical earthquake that began with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and continued through the Syrian uprising has challenged the foundations of the regional political order built by the French and the British, putting the future of the Middle East once again up for grabs. This time, the estimated 30 million-plus Kurds, whose numbers make them the world’s largest stateless people, are better organized. Buoyed by the oil-fueled prosperity of Iraqi Kurdistan — first severed from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by the U.S. after the 1991 Gulf War, and then formalized as a crypto-state after his fall — they are emerging as the region’s new wild card, nowhere more so than in the turmoil of Syria’s rebellion.

Syrian-Kurdish fighters last week took control of towns across northern Syria after Assad ceded them to shore up his forces in Damascus and Aleppo. Two weeks earlier, Iraqi-Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani had brokered a deal between rival Syrian-Kurdish groups, forming a national council and vowing to suppress their differences in order to pursue common Kurdish interests. That development stunned Ankara. Mainstream Turkish commentator Mehmet Ali Birand notes that the creation of an autonomous Kurdish zone in northeast Syria, following the emergence of a similar entity in Iraq, could portend the realization of one of Turkey’s worst nightmares coming true — “a mega–Kurdish state” along the southeastern border where the largest section of its own, restive Kurdish population of some 14 million is concentrated. Even the word Kurdistan is taboo in Turkey, where a separatist insurgency and efforts to suppress it have claimed more than 30,000 lives over the past three decades.

“The Kurdish move in Syria is historic,” says Mustafa Gundogdu, of the London-based Kurdish Human Rights Project. “They forged a third way. Instead of being squashed between the Assad regime or the opposition, they made a move based on establishing their own long-term interests. They work with the opposition forces, but they are also independent of them. They have established themselves not as a victim, but as a player in the game.”

http://world.time.com/2012/08/06/how-the-kurds-have-changed-turkeys-calculations-on-syria/?iid=gs-main-mostpop1

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Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Aug 30, 2012, 12:44 PM

20. The remapping of the Middle East By Claudio Gallo

Claudio Gallo: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad gave a free hand to northern Syria Kurds. May this become a real casus belli with Turkey?

Jeremy Salt: It may be going too far - to conclude that Assad gave a free hand to the Kurds in Syria. It is more likely that in the complete turmoil spreading across the country, he could not stop them from taking control of Kurdish areas close to the Turkish border. He certainly would not want to open up a front against the Kurds while trying to suppress the armed groups.

Whether this becomes a casus belli depends on how the Turkish government chooses to read the situation. But it is alarmed at the possibility of a Kurdish enclave being established in Northern Syria, strengthening the prospect of a "Greater Kurdistan" being created in the future. These complications should have been foreseen but apparently were not when Turkey decided to confront the Syrian government more than a year ago.

CG: Ankara is keeping a direct connection with the Iraqi Kurd administration, bypassing Baghdad. What in your opinion is the goal of Turkish diplomacy?

JS: It is very difficult to read Turkish diplomacy at the moment or to understand what the present regional policy is intended to achieve. If we look at Turkish policy until the beginning of 2012, we can see that "soft power" and "zero problems" had worked. Turkey had a strong working relationship with all of its eastern neighbors. As a result of the decision to work for "regime change" in Syria all this has been turned upside down.

The US and the Gulf states may be grateful for the central role Turkey is playing in the campaign to dislodge the Syrian government but the costs for Turkey have been great. Apart from the complete rupture with Damascus, the relationship with Iran and Iraq has been undermined. Turkey has also put itself at odds with Russia.

Again, all of this should have been foreseen a year ago as the inevitable outcome of confronting the government in Damascus, which has a strong strategic relationship with Iran and which gives port facilities to the Russian fleet and has had a strong relationship with Russia/the USSR for the past half century.

---

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NH31Ak01.html

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