October 21, 2007

The PKK: Crazy? Or Crazy Like a Fox?

ISTANBUL, Oct. 21 — At least 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by Kurdish militants shortly after midnight on Sunday, in an audacious attack that sharply increased the pressure on Turkey’s government to send troops into northern Iraq.

In light of this most recent cross-border attack, Abu Muqawama doesn't see how, exactly, Turkey doesn't send troops now into Northern Iraq. There are two possibilities that have sprung into the mind of this blogger as he's thought about why the PKK would have done something like this -- something they must surely know will cause Turkey to react militarily:

1. The PKK is just stupid. This is, after all, a guerrilla organization that has failed to motivate the vast majority of Kurds -- currently enjoying their newfound economic and political freedom in Iraq -- to join the revolutionary struggle and attack Turkey. They have alienated the population they claim to be fighting for and have failed to build up any real support from Kurdistan's leadership. This is just the latest in a long line of stupid decisions.

2. The PKK is really smart. This cross-border raid is straight out of the insurgent's handbook in that is is designed to provoke a violent military reaction from the other side -- the kind of military reaction that inflames the Kurdish population of Iraq in a way that the PKK's message has failed to do. The PKK can't unite the Kurds. But a Turkish invasion would. The PKK, then, forces the Kurds to take a side -- the PKK or the Turks?

Abu Muqawama is leaning toward #2 being the correct answer. Especially in light of the recent fall-out between the USA and Turkey over the House of Representatives' stupid vote on the Armenian Genocide, the USA is in no position to discourage either the Turkish government or the Turkish population from going to war. (The PKK has killed over 30,000 Turks since 1984 -- Turkey wants war badly.)

This will all, of course, end badly for the Kurdish people. In the end, the PKK is a bigger problem for them than it is for the Turks. It threatens what they have built up in Iraq and also the welfare of the Kurds living there.

But here's something else that will be interesting to watch. The Turks are members of NATO. How will the other NATO member states re-act if Turkey invades Kurdistan and -- Turkey being Turkey (a la Manny being Manny) -- is considerably more cavalier about civilian casualties than the US? Will NATO/US pressure have an effect if things get out of hand?