Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Based on everything I've read in the (anglophone) Turkish press, I think the chances of a full-scale Turkish military operation in Iraqi Kurdistan are actually pretty slim. Yes, the authorization for an incursion has been put before the Turkish Parliament, and yes it will almost certainly be approved. This gives Prime Minister Erdogan a year's worth of serious leverage to really get people's attention in Washington, Baghdad and Irbil. Think of it as the Turkish equivalent of the Iraq War Authorization Act, only given to a head of state who has demonstrated an appreciation for the limits of military force.
Aside from an occasional loud boom for Turkish domestic consumption, if there is any military operation it will probably come in the form of an under the radar infiltration of special forces, augmenting the hot pursuit incursions and artillery shelling of PKK positions that's been taking place -- and largely ignored by everyone involved -- for months now.
The reality is that a Turkish invasion risks turning an irritating situation into a regional crisis that will almost certainly degrade Turkey's strategic position, with little hope of actually solving the PKK problem. On the other hand, a low-level special forces operation allows everyone to walk away with a moral victory: Turkey by claiming they're addressing the problem, the US by claiming they've avoided the worst, and the Kurds by claiming that nothing's happening.