Iraqi Kurds lose in the US-Turkeys deal

  • - By Dr Salah Aziz
  • 10/02/2003 00:00:00

Two recent articles, Dexter Filkins and C. J. Chivers article, U.S. in Talks on Allowing Turkey to Occupy Iraqi Kurdistan published in The New York Times of February 7, and the Turkish Daily News article Ankara Steps up Iraq Diplomacy Ahead of Holiday published February 8, have provided more information to the public regarding the Washington-Ankara agreement.

This agreement makes it possible for over 35,000 Turkish troops to enter Kurdistan-Iraq. American and Turkish diplomats are encouraging the Kurdish leaders to accept the Turkish proposal. With very limited resources, and few alternatives, the Kurds have no real choice but to accept the proposal, especially since it is backed by the Bush administration. Once again, the Kurdish dream of self-rule is evaporating because of an international deal.

Until last week, Turkey, since its political and economical interests have not been addressed by the US, has consistently opposed the war in Iraq. However, through some maneuvering of it own, Turnkey has been successful in pressuring Washington to include her as a partner during the war and in post-Saddam Iraq. First, Turkey weakened the influence of U.S.-sponsored Iraqi Opposition groups by preventing them from holding their second conference in January in Kurdistan. The groups and their chosen 65 members represent part of the Iraqi governing body post-Saddam. Second, Turkey organized a regional conference between itself and Iraq’s other five neighbors: Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, which called for a peaceful solution with Iraq. Third, Turkey delayed giving permission for the US to use Turkish territory to attack Iraq from the North. The US Army believes this is important to finish the war quickly.

Turkey has expressed four conditions to be met before they will cooperate with the US:

(a) no independent state for the Kurds.

(b) Kurdish forces, Peshmarga, should not enter the oil-rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

(c) have a sizeable number of troops inside Kurdistan to prevent (a) and (b).

(d)Turkey will have a large share of the economic package for rebuilding Iraq after Saddam.

It appears that President Bushs special envoy, Mr. Zalmay Khalizad, is working on a memorandum of understanding with the Turks to integrate their conditions into the overall U.S. policy on Iraq. On February 6, Turkey agreed to the U.S. military request to modernize bases in Turkey so they can be used by a large number of U.S. troops. Based on the Washington-Ankara agreement, the Turkish Parliament will vote again on February 18.

The Kurdish dream of a federated state in Iraq and a region of self-rule may end soon under the guns of Turkish troops. Kurds had hoped that the presence of the U.S. army would stabilize the security in the country after Saddam is overthrown. However, the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq will trigger Arab nationalists who fear the Turkish historical claim on Kirkuk and Mosul.

The Kurds also fear that Turkish support for Turkmen in Kurdistan will threat their security. Thus, it would not be a surprise if Arabs and Kurds seek help from Iran, bringing further instability and turmoil to the region.

Iraqi Kurds cooperated with the US administration during 1972-75, only to be forgotten after Saddam and Shah of Iran signed Algerian Agreement. In 1991, Kurds rebelled against Saddam and controlled four major provinces. After both events, the US left them to suffer Saddams revenge. Hundreds of thousands became refugees or were killed. The U.S. defended itself in the past by minimizing their role in Kurdish affairs as being simply a humanitarian partner to the Kurds. What will be its excuse this time?

Dr. Salah Aziz, Executive Director

American Society for Kurds

Tallahassee, FL 32301

Tel. (850) 383-4333


  • - By Dr Salah Aziz
  • 10/02/2003 00:00:00