Friday, February 22, 2008
Contracts and All That, Guns, Guns!
In less positive news, Turkish ground forces have crossed the border into Iraq:
Let's hope this incursion is limited, contained and brief.
Turkish troops launched a ground incursion across the border into Iraq in pursuit of separatist Kurdish rebels, the military said Friday — a move that dramatically escalates Turkey's conflict with the militants.
It is the first confirmed ground operation by the Turkish military into Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. It also raised concerns that it could trigger a wider conflict with the U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurds, despite Turkey's assurances that its only target was the Kurdistan's Workers Party, or PKK.
The ground operation started after Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed suspected rebel targets on Thursday, the military said on its Web site. The incursion was backed by the Air Force, the statement said.
Turkey has conducted air raids against the PKK guerrillas in northern Iraq since December, with the help of U.S. intelligence, and it has periodically carried out so-called "hot pursuits" in which small units sometimes spend only a few hours inside Iraq.
The announcement of a cross-border, ground incursion of a type that Turkey carried out before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a major development in its conflict with the Kurdish rebels, which started in 1984 and has claimed as many as 40,000 lives.
Turkey staged about two-dozen incursions in Iraq during the rule of Saddam, who launched brutal campaigns against the Kurdish population. Some Turkish offensives involved tens of thousands of troops. Results were mixed, with rebels suffering blows to their ranks and supplies but regrouping after the bulk of the Turkish forces had left.