Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Paranoia in Turkey over northern Iraq

A former American official says something and paranoia grips our countrymen, creating round the clock debates over the creation of a possible independent "Kurdistan" in northern Iraq.

Former Clinton administration official Richard Holbrooke, who visited Erbil recently, has come up with an idea that a "Taiwan model" can be applied for northern Iraq where the international community indirectly recognizes the independent entity in the Kurdish region and deals with it diplomatically in a limited manner but forges unlimited economic and financial relations.

So immediately the media picks up this story as if Holbrooke is actually in the Bush administration and suggests this is a new American plan to push Turkey to recognize a Kurdish state.

Holbrooke was in Erbil recently and had talks with Kurdish leaders. Like anyone visiting the area, he saw that the Kurds are suffering serious hardships and could not sustain any form of an independent entity without serious outside help if Baghdad collapses and the area is left without funds.

He also realized that the region badly needed Turkey's support and was dismayed by the lack of dialogue between Ankara and the Kurdish leaders.

So it seems Holbrooke did some deep thinking and came up with his own solution. These are his views, not the views of the Bush administration. He may again become an influential American official after a future Democratic presidential victory, but even that remains to be seen.

We feel Turks have really become paranoid about northern Iraq. It is the lack of information about this region that is creating this impression. Turks who visit Erbil and northern Iraq see for themselves the reality and the importance of helping this region stand on its two feet. They realize that the region is heavily dependent on Turkey while our people are jittery that the Kurds will become independent and eventually swallow up southeastern Turkey.

Instead of turning its back on the region, Turkey should establish some form of diplomatic presence in Erbil. The Americans are here. The British are here. The Russians are establishing a consulate, while the Iranians, who are as much concerned as us about an in dependent Kurdish state, have a representation. Turkey, which is the most important regional political and economic power which is actually driving the Kurdish economy, is missing in Erbil. Can this be tolerated?

Our newspapers are full of stories that are seriously misleading simply because no one takes the trouble of visiting this region and prefers to write about it sitting in Istanbul.

Newspapers claim that the military has a secret report saying Talabani and Barzani have agreed to use the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against the Turkmens. It seems those who do not know the region and the strength of the Turkmens in Erbil do not realize that this is impossible and believe in such nonsense.

It seems some people simply do not want dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders and Turkey to eventually prevail in northern Iraq. Turkey should think big instead of getting lost in paranoia.

New Anatolian

One could only hope. I know I have been against the idea in the past but, that was on the condition we could hold Baghdad.


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