Ankara Is Suddenly Friends with Iraq’s Kurds, Drops Its Turkomen Patronage
Turkey’s National Security Council, its supreme foreign and defense policy-making authority, reached a number of landmark decisions at a secret meeting in Ankara over last weekend. Those decisions add up to an epic reversal of its traditional policies.
The highest officials in the land were present: President Ahmed Necdet Sezer, prime minister Tayyip Edrogan and chief of staff General Hilmi Ozkok.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in the Turkish capital reveal those decisions hereunder: 1. Turkey henceforth turns its back on the Iraqi Turkomen community it traditionally protects and severs all their ties. The reasons for this desertion:
A. Turkomen leaders long deceived Ankara on the true size of their community, claiming it numbered between 2.5 and 3 million. They were caught out finally by Iraq’s January electoral rolls which exposed the real figure as being no more than 600-700,000, half of whom are Shiites.
B. This discrepancy defeated all Ankara’s efforts to create a militia that would keep the Turkomen under Ankara’s control, as promised the Americans.
C. Shiite Turkomen were found to be closely allied with al Qaeda organizations in both Iraq and Iran and therefore not susceptible to the bid by Turkish intelligence and military to cut them out of the cycle of anti-American violence in Iraq. Their Turkoman nature was found to be less pronounced than their Shiite affinities. This decision opened the way for the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to reopen its offensive on June 6 against the Turkoman town of Tal Afar, to which Turkey had previously objected.
D. Shortly before the policy session in Ankara, Turkish officials discovered that Turkomen leaders were in discussions with Iranian Azeri activists on collaboration in guerrilla operations against the Tehran regime. Turkey wants no part of any unrest fomented against the Iranian government.
E. For all these reasons, the Turks decided there was is no point in relying on the Turkomen of the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk pulling their weight for Ankara to gain a position of influence in the disposition of north Iraqis’ oil fields.
2. In place of the Turkomen connection, it was decided to reverse Ankara’s former Kurdish policy and throw its backing behind Kurdistan’s evolving independence in northern Iraq which the Turks define as “independence without sovereignty.” This support will extend to Masoud Barzani‘s presidency and the power-sharing arrangement between the two leading Kurdish parties.
The Turkish government has already acted on its decisions.
A Turkish general will be assigned to Irbil as a sort of Turkish ambassador accredited to president Barzani. The general staff is conferring on a suitable officer for the post.
The Turkish-Kurdistan border terminal at Habour will be expanded and new roads paved on both sides of the border. Ankara intends the terminal to become a bustling hive of expanded Turkish-Kurdish commerce.
Regular commercial flights will soon be inaugurated between Irbil’s new airport and Istanbul and Ankara international airports.
Turkey’s revised policy on the Kurdish question is a historic turnabout affecting the entire Middle East. It draws a line on half a century of relentless Turkish warfare against the Kurdish people and interminable military expeditions against Kurdistan to smash the slightest symbol of Kurdish independence.