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Many analysts are now viewing a confrontation involving Turkey, the United States, and Kurdish Iraq as a serious prospect for this summer. If things continue to develop in this direction, it will be the strongest sign so far of the deterioration of the once solid relationship between Ankara and Washington which was long a basic underpinning of United States strategy towards the Middle East.
Karen DeYoung reports in today’s Washington Post that concern about developments in Iraqi Kurdistan continues to mount in Turkey.
While President Bush’s new strategy in Iraq focuses on stopping the violence in Baghdad, trouble threatens to boil over in Iraq’s Kurdish region to the north, which the administration frequently holds up as an island of stability and a model for the future.
The long dispute between Turkey and Iraq over renegade Kurdish fighters camped on the Iraqi side of their shared border reached new heights last month. When the head of Iraq’s Kurdish regional government threatened to provoke an uprising among Turkish Kurds, Turkey responded with warnings of direct military action and an angry complaint to Washington.
Ankara has massed thousands of soldiers on its side of the border and has warned it will dismantle the camps in Iraq if the U.S. military will not use some of its nearly 150,000 troops in Iraq to do it.
The United States appears fully aware of the Turkish complaints, doesn’t appear seriously to dispute Turkey, but seems unable to do anything about it. Laura Rozen reports in a piece in National Journal this weekend:
Asked for comment on the PKK situation, one State Department official, speaking on background, said that U.S. reluctance to move more decisively against the PKK now was driven by simple realities: “There are no U.S. troops in Kurdistan,” the official said. “America has a multiplicity of problems in Iraq, and the PKK are not killing Americans.”
“The Turks are really pissed,” the official acknowledged, “but they have pulled back a bit” recently. He noted that Turkey is participating in a meeting in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, on May 3-4 involving the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbors, and that the Turks “have even been helpful in leaning on the Iranians in the past, and to get the Iranians to participate in regional meetings.”
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”