OPINION

Ankara’s Kurdish nightmare

Finally, after much bartering, Turkey allowed only flyovers by airplanes and not the passage of American troops across its soil. It did make other informal concessions, but the plan for a northern front was aborted. Washington was forced to rearrange its plans. It is not displaying its displeasure now because it has other priorities. By taking this stand, Ankara lost a significant economic aid package at a time of deep crisis. It lost an opportunity to have a say in the future regime of Iraq. While the Americans will not recognize an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, it can be taken for granted that the existing regime of broad autonomy will take on the form of a state. Meeting in Ankara, Americans, Kurds, opposition Iraqis and Turkish officials reached an agreement over Iraq the following day. One reason Washington imposed the agreement was to avoid a Turkish-Kurdish clash during the war against Saddam Hussein. But in time, conflicting Turkish and Kurdish interests will cause disputes, even armed clashes. The current war is a golden opportunity for the Kurds to further their dream of national liberation. They have put their army at the disposal of the US so that there is an elementary northern front, but their strategic aim is to enter the oil-producing areas of Mosul and Kirkuk under the American umbrella. Ankara shudders at the very thought. The Turkish army has penetrated the border and is threatening to take over the disputed areas to prevent such a development. In fact, control of the oil fields has been a national dream since the inception of the Turkish State. Since they don’t forget, and postwar balances demand it, the Americans will probably leave the Turks with a bitter taste in their mouths.