Q&A on Mounting Tensions between Turkey and the Kurds

November 1, 2007

Turkish troops and substantial air and armor forces are poised on the Turkey-Iraq border to defend against what Turkey calls terrorist attacks from Kurdish rebels. As tensions and the body count mount, Turkey is looking to the U.S. for action. Mark Parris, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, addressed the crisis:

“This is not an easy proposition from a military standpoint—the terrain is very difficult, the enemy is very elusive, they can see them coming, so the Turks will have to consider how to do this in a militarily significant way. They do have a serious and growing terrorism problem. There have been 30 Turks—civilian and military—killed in the last couple of weeks. It does have an American dimension in that the Turks feel their ally—the United States—should help them get a handle on this problem since we, in their view, are controlling much of Iraq.

“Bottom line, I guess is that Prime Minister Erdogan and his military chiefs have some difficult decisions. They’ll have to weigh carefully what they do on this issue but their country is expecting them to take concrete steps to deal with a terrorism problem that the united States, in their view, has not done an adequate job of dealing with by ourselves.”