Turkey is stepping up the pressure on Kurdish PKK rebels, preparing a range of sanctions against their supporters in northern Iraq. Turkish troops await the decision to attack the PKK across the border. And Ankara is ready to impose economic measures and even close Turkish airspace to flights to and from Iraq.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the sanctions had begun, but insisted that they would be aimed only at rebel Kurds, and not harm Turks or Iraqis. The rebels have attacked targets inside Turkey from bases in northern Iraq in their drive for a Kurdish homeland. Ankara accuses Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, of “aiding and abetting” the rebels.
Turkey knows it is playing a delicate game. Sanctions may weaken the PKK, but may end up hurting the Turkish economy. Many Turkish exports cross overland into northern Iraq, and Turkish electricity powers much of the border region.