Turkey warns Washington
By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
Washington advocates of war on Iraq have another headache to contend withTurkey.
Turkey, a key ally, has accused the administration of supporting an independent Kurdish state and warned it will use military force to prevent such a move.
The dispute comes as the head of U.S. forces in the Gulf was to meet with Turkish military leaders over battle plans for the invasion of Iraq. Turkey is fearful such a move would worsen its economic crisis and would destabilize the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel told a Turkish newspaper: U.S. officials say they do not want an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, but developments there show a de facto state has been set up.
This raises suspicions about whether the United States is trying to provoke Ankara by supporting these developments. Proclamation of an independent Kurdish state…will meet with Turkish intervention, Gurel said.
The U.S. views support of both Kurdish groups in Iraq and Turkey as vital to American intentions to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Gurel asserted Turkey would not be prodded by outside provocation and encouragement into taking military action but nevertheless would do so if it sees a security threat developing.
Turkey is fearful that the two Kurdish groups controlling northern Iraq might try to expand their control to include the Kirkuk oil fields and establish a basis for future independence.
Ankara worries that a breakaway Kurdish state could reignite separatism among Turkeys own Kurds in the southeastern part of that country.
Turkey already has hundreds of troops in northern Iraq, which has been free of Saddam Husseins control since the Gulf War in 1991 because of the no-fly zone over nothern Iraq patrolled by British and American air units.