Monday, October 15, 2007
The gathering crisis along the Turkish border with Iraqi Kurdistan is illustrative of the nature of asymmetric warfare. As The New Anatolian puts it:
The PKK is pushing hard to further provoke the Turkish military into a full scale cross border operation deep into northern Iraq thus severely hurting Turkey’s ties with the European Union as well as Washington.
A PKK attack killing 13 Turkish soldiers last week created furor in Ankara forcing the government to bow to public pressures to order the military to prepare for a cross border operation into Iraq...
But the PKK has taken a defiant position saying it will intensify its terrorist campaign against Turkey.
If this sounds familiar, it's because it is. This is exactly the same strategy Osama Bin Laden pursued with the United States, minus the religious fanaticism and cult of suicide martyrdom. What's striking is how successful it remains. As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged last week, Turkey has already tried and failed to solve the PKK problem militarily. Yet here they are rattling their sabres once again, despite the fact that an incursion will severely damage Turkish interests.
Make no mistake, a Turkish military response will jeopardize America's delicate balancing act in Iraq by destabilizing the one area of that country that has known relative calm. It will throw the entire region into high alert. But it will also hurt Turkey's relations with its two most critical allies. All because of the common wisdom that sometimes you just have to hit back, even if the person you're hitting the hardest happens to be yourself.