Thursday, October 18, 2007

Casus belli?

David Francis at FP Passport

Turkish troops continue massing along Iraqi border, preparing for possible cross-border assaults on safe havens of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party. The United States, among other countries, has urged Turkey to back off, fearing an attack could destabilize the one relatively stable region in Iraq.

What is less known is that Iraqi Kurdistan is already under attack from Iran, which is targeting the Party for Freedom and Life in Kurdistan (PJAK). Members of the party, which calls for a separate Kurd state, have clashed repeatedly with Iranian forces in recent years. The confrontations had been taking place in northwestern Iran, where PJAK forces were attempting to expel Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard from Kurdish area. But last month, Tehran acknowledged it had begun shelling PJAK bases inside Iraq. When asked about the attacks, Gen. Yayha Rahim Safavi, military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said:

Some of their bases are 10 kilometers deep inside Iraqi territory, so this is part of our natural right to secure our borders. Of course we issued warnings to the Iraqi government and told it to take them [PJAK members] away from the border and respect its obligations. But unfortunately the Kurdistan region, the northern part of Iraq, did not listen, so we feel entitled to target military bases of PJAK and they have been under our artillery fire.

Now, there are reports that Revolutionary Guard troops are gathering at the Iraqi border, readying for an assault. So Iraq's Kurds face attacks on two fronts. One attack could destabilize the region. A second could send it spiraling toward all-out war.

President Bush reiterated yesterday that he doesn't want Turkey in Iraq. But oddly, he's been silent on Iran. Some reports suggest the United States is preparing war plans against Iran. Could an overt strike by Iran on Iraq be the public justification for the United States to put these plans into action?

Poor excuse is better than none. But since when did we worry about a good excuse?

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