Relations between Ankara and Washington have unexpectedly aggravated recently
This is said to be connected with an arrest of 11 Turkish servicemen by US military forces three days ago. It is reported that the people were plotting to assinate the governor of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a Kurd by nationality. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan had to settle the tension in relations between Turkey and the USA. The prime minister called actions of American military forces disgusting. On the whole, the situation looks rather strange indeed
It is a known fact that Turkey is carefully watching the actions of Kurds in northern Iraq. The slightest impression that an independent Kurd state is about to be created will immediately provoke a reaction from Turkish Kurds. Nevertheless, Ankara realizes perfectly well that interference in Iraqi affairs will irritate Washington. It is hardly likely that the US will let Turks liquidate disagreeable Kurd leaders, even those operating in Iraq. If the Turks were given such a right, this would entail unexpected consequences. Neither Washington nor the occupation administration want one more center of tension in Iraq. This means that further attempts of Ankara to interfere into affairs of Iraq's Kurdistan will be suppressed.
However, it is not clear why the Turkish soldiers were released so quickly if the scandal was connected with elimination of the Kurd governor. This liberalism won't act in favour of the provisional administration in Iraq. So, there are two possible explanations of the situation. First, the Turkish soldiers didn't have a plan to eliminate the Kurd governor, they simply came to a place where they were not welcome. Second, a more probable explanation, is that Washington understood it shouldn't exasperate its NATO ally and make for wider popularity of Islamists (even rather moderate ones) headed by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. The actions of the US are quite logical in this situation, as mass anti-American protest demonstrations have recently taken place in several Turkish cities. The only way to weaken the tension was to release the detained Turkish soldiers. What is more, there is no sense for the US Administration to spoil relations with Turkey.
It is not for the first time that American forces have detained Turkish servicemen in Iraq. First incidents of this kind occurred during the military campaign in the country. Turkey gave up the idea of introducing the troops in Iraq only thanks to pressure exerted by Washington. To all appearances, even cessation of the hostilities and vacuum of authority in Iraq didn't put an end to Ankara's apprehensions of further unpredictable development of the Kurd problem. It is highly likely that Turkey will make more attempts to have an influence upon the situation in the adjoining country, the Kurd problem especially. This will inevitably entail more conflicts between Ankara and Washington on the problem.
Photo: Turkey Prime Minister Recep Erdogan