From the Times of London, breaking news:
Turkish Prime Minister warns US: we will attack Kurdish rebels in Iraq
Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells The Times that he needs nobody’s permission to defend his country
[Oct. 22, 2007]
Martin Fletcher and Suna Erdem
Turkey will launch military action against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq despite frantic appeals for restraint from America and Nato, its Prime Minister has told The Times.
Speaking hours before the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, killed at least 17 more Turkish soldiers yesterday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had urged the US and Iraqi governments repeatedly to expel the separatists but they had done nothing. Turkey’s patience was running out and the country had every right to defend itself, he said. “Whatever is necessary will be done,” he declared in an interview. “We don’t have to get permission from anybody.”
Mr Erdogan, who begins a two-day visit to Britain today, also offered a bleak assessment of relations between the US and Turkey, a country of huge strategic importance to Washington. He said that a “serious wave of antiAmericanism” was sweeping Turkey, called America’s war in Iraq a failure, and served warning that if the US Congress approved a Bill accusing the Ottoman Turks of genocide against Armenians during the First World War, the US “might lose a very important friend”.
— snip —
This is a potential distaster.
[Update: 10/21/07 11:27 PM by LithiumCola]:
More; the Times headline might be overhyped:
Military action could be avoided only if the Americans and Iraqis expelled the PKK, closed its camps and handed over its leaders, he said.
Mr Erdogan said that last week’s parliamentary vote authorising military action showed that Turkey’s patience was exhausted. He would not be drawn on the scale or timing of any operation, but Turkey is thought to have more than 60,000 soldiers massed along the Iraq border. Other Turkish officials said that the PKK had six training camps and 3,500 fighters in the mountains of northern Iraq.
[Update #2 11:40 PM 10/21/07 by Lithiumcola]: more below.