Turkey considers foray into Iraq
In today's FT
Data & tools
By Vincent Boland in Ankara
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Turkey moved a step closer on Tuesday to sending its army into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish separatist rebels after a series of bloody attacks on Turkish civilians and security forces in the past two weeks that have caused a public outcry.
The government said after a meeting of senior anti-terrorism officials that "every kind of measure", including a possible foray into Iraq, would be used to end a spate of terrorist attacks, including one on Sunday in Sirnak, a province bordering Iraq, in which 13 soldiers were killed.
That incident has led to a wave of public and political outrage at the PKK, an armed Kurdish separatist movement that frequently launches deadly attacks against Turkish targets. Ankara claims the PKK is using northern Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks inside Turkey, and has argued bitterly with Baghdad and Washington over measures to counter the rebels.
In a statement on Tuesday, the office of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, did not specifically mention either the PKK or Iraq. But it said: "To put an end to the terrorist organisation operating in the neighbouring country, the order has been given to take every kind of measure, legal, economic, political, including a cross-border operation if necessary."
In the past few months Turkey has amassed up to 100,000 troops along its border with Iraq, and special units are understood to have undertaken several raids across the border to carry out specific strikes against the PKK. A large-scale invasion, however, would require parliamentary approval, and there is no sign that the government is ready to seek this yet.
Sunday's was the worst single incident for many years in Turkey's fight with the PKK, which launched an armed rebellion in 1984 that has continued more or less ever since. Mr Erdogan is under intense pressure from military chiefs for more leeway in their fight against the rebels. But he is also under pressure from Kurdish political leaders to address their continuing social, cultural and political grievances after his government won wide support in Kurdish areas in July's general election.
Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.