Monday, July 24, 2006

The nightmare scenario

The past few days have been full of pundits spinning scenarios for how the Israeli assault on Lebanon could metastasize into some wider conflict, usually involving Syria and/or Iran.

But commodities consultant Ann Berg posits an altogether different nightmare scenario for a "wider conflict" in the region that's on hardly anyone's radar screen, an analog to Israel using armed force to put an end to Hezbollah attacks plotted in Lebanon: Turkish troops pouring into Iraq to put an end to attacks plotted there by the Kurdish separatist group PKK. Berg has experienced the tensions first-hand while working in Turkey, and she shudders at the implications:

The ramifications of Turkey waging war against the PKK in Iraq amid the chaos of so many armed soldiers could certainly lead to confrontation and skirmishes between U.S. and Turkish forces, similar to what happened in Sulaymaniyah in 2003. The Turkish army is no ragtag outfit, having forcibly ousted four governments in the last 45 years. The scenario of pitting two supposed democratic allies, both members of NATO, against each other was already laid out in the Anatolian best-selling book Metal Storm, in which Turkey, allied with its former nemesis Russia, ended up detonating a nuclear suitcase bomb in Washington, D.C.


Even if the suitcase nukes don't come about, just imagine Iraq's well-armed and well-trained Kurdish peshmerga militias coming to the defense of their homeland against the invading Turks. What do the Shiites running the show in Baghdad do with their vestigial army? (Do they turn to their one-time sponsors in Tehran, who worry about their own restive Kurdish minority?) What if the Turks decide that in addition to smashing Kurdish terrorism, they come to the defense of ethnic Turkmen in the tinderbox city of Kirkuk? The mind reels.

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