Turkey has staged a show of strength as it prepares for military strikes on northern Iraq. The display of military might on the country’s national day comes as diplomatic efforts continue to avert a cross-border operation against Kurdish rebels. Turkish nationalist fervour has been rising since the deaths of 12 soldiers in recent fighting with the PKK group along the border. The Turkish leadership is coming under increasing domestic pressure to take action against the Kurdish militants.
But the international community, and particularly Washington and Baghdad, are urging restraint. Turkish-Iraqi talks aimed at stopping the PKK from using northern Iraq as a base for attacks on Turkey broke down on Friday. Ankara rejected a series of Iraqi proposals as insufficient.
Turkey has up to 100,000 troops in the region poised for a large-scale offensive against the PKK, which the US and the EU regard as a terrorist organisation. There have been reports of fresh Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish positions in the mountains along the border. Against this backdrop the search for a diplomatic solution continues. Turkish officials say talks next Monday between Prime Minister Erdogan and President George W. Bush will be crucial in determining whether Turkey goes ahead with an incursion.