Another Middle East conflict rears its head

Sunday, October 28, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:11 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Loory: As if there isn’t enough trouble in the world, in the Middle East there is an old conflict, seemingly quiet for a long time, which has now reared its ugly head. Fighters of the Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK, have killed 12 Turkish soldiers and wounded several more in an attack near the Turkish/Iraqi border. Turkey has called on the United States and Iraq to strike back at the PKK but nothing has happened, although both countries have labeled that organization a terrorist group. The PKK say they are not terrorists and that they are only looking for ethnic and national autonomy. So, Turkey has threatened an invasion of Iraq by its own troops, and recently it carried out an air raid against the PKK that hit several villages in Iraq near the frontier. The U.S. certainly doesn’t like these developments, but it’s hard pressed to try to stop them. Turkey is a strong U.S. ally in the war in Iraq, and the U.S. moves a lot of supplies into Iraq through Turkey. Kurdistan in Northern Iraq is virtually autonomous and relatively peaceful, and the U.S. doesn’t want to get involved in a civil war in Kurdistan. Turkey has a large Kurdish minority that also feels oppressed and cannot be allowed to get too aggressive by the Turkish government. This is another international, ethnic and nationalist problem that could quickly get out of hand, as have others in Africa, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Philippines. What is going on in that northern frontier and can it be brought under control?