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Turkey presses for raid on Kurdish rebels in Iraq

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Turkey presses for raid on Kurdish rebels in Iraq


At least 15 Turkish soldiers have been killed since Sunday by Kurdish separatists, stirring up tensions on the Turkish-Iraqi border.

Under pressure from an outraged public, the government has proposed a cross-border military operation to hunt down rebels.

Agreements signed at the end of last month between the Iraqi and Turkish interior ministers do not give Ankara the right to pursue militants across the border.

So is the threat of a cross-border raid – even if it is deemed necessary by Turkey – credible?

Political analyst Hasan Koni thinks not.
“They need a motion taken by the parliament and taking this motion in front of the American objection and the Iraqi government objection is not really possible, so I see this decision as a public diplomacy in order to appease the Turkish people,” he said.

According to the Turkish media, steps must be taken. Numerous demonstrations have been held to call for a firm response from the government.

The US, however, wants to avoid military intervention, fearing it would further destabilise northern Iraq.

In villages along the Turkish side of the border there is no desire for military action. The conflict has already claimed enough lives.

One woman said: “Our brothers, uncles, fathers get killed because of this war. We don’t want Turkey to enter northern Iraq. The only way to solve this problem is for Turks and Kurds to come together and find a way out.”

Since 1984 the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – the PKK – and the Turkish army have been engaged in a violent conflict that has seen tens of thousands of deaths.

There are some 20 million Kurds in Turkey, seven million in Iran, six million in Iraq and two million in Syria. They are a people geographically divided, many of whom do not have the same rights or even the same objectives.

The Iraqi Kurds enjoy plenty of autonomy and the north is the most stable region of the country. They deny supporting the PKK but are also firmly opposed to any cross-border raids by Turkey.

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