The Prime Minister of Iraq has pledged to shut down rebel Kurdish bases and offices in the north of his country, and stop what he called the terrorists from operating. The announcement came as Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in London, to warn that his army was ready to attack the rebels if necessary. However, he said any action would be limited.
“Any military strike would only target the rebels,” he said. “We have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people who have suffered in the past. We have no desire whatsoever to take over Iraqi territory.”
London and its NATO partners are terrified a Turkish invasion would further complicate what is already a fiendishly difficult mission in Iraq. “We believe that action within Iraq, working with the Iraqi government, with our allies, including the USA, is the way we can deal with this problem,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “We are aware that action has to be taken to prevent groups moving from Iraq into Turkey, and threatening the lives of Turkish citizens.”
Rebels, notably the Kurdish Workers’ Party or PKK, have used northern Iraq as a base from which to attack targets inside Turkey. The deaths of Turkish soldiers and civilians have led to huge popular pressure for military action. Ankara is aware of its responsibilities as a NATO ally, and a would-be member of the European Union. But it also knows that’s little comfort to those mourning the victims of recent clashes.