Saturday, April 14, 2007

Iraq reacts sharply to Turkish incursion threat

Iraq reacts sharply to Turkish incursion threat (Thanks Semite)
Speakers of Parliament, kurdish assembly lash out at proposal for raid on 'rebels' in north

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The speakers of both the Iraqi Parliament and Iraq's Kurdistan assembly described a call by Turkey's top general for a cross-border military operation as a "dangerous escalation," warning Ankara against interfering in the country's affairs. The warning came as the European Commission urged Turkey and Iraq to settle differences peacefully.

On Thursday, General Yasar Buyukanit, head of Turkey's military General Staff, said a military operation in northern Iraq would aim to crush Turkish and Kurdish rebels hiding in the area. He said he had not asked Parliament to authorize any such operation.

"The threats by [Buyukanit] are a dangerous escalation that we take very seriously," Adnan al-Mufti, speaker of Iraq's Kurdistan Parliament, told a news conference in Irbil.

"We hope that reason will prevail in taking decisions, because any military intervention will complicate matters more and will shape a threat to the Iraqi people."

The escalation came after Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said in a television interview last week that Iraqi Kurds would interfere in Turkey's mainly Kurdish cities if Ankara interfered in northern Iraq.

In Baghdad, the fiery speaker of Iraq's Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, on Friday joined the increasingly heated war of words, warning Ankara that "the hand that will be extended to interfere in our internal affairs will be cut, if not today then tomorrow."

"If neighboring, friendly and brotherly countries have good intentions they should help us," he said, defending Barzani as a "moderate and logical" leader.

Mashhadani said "we support the leader of the Kurdistan region ... and we reject interference in our internal Iraqi affairs from any side. We condemn this interference and we will repulse it."

Turkey has repeatedly urged the Baghdad government and US forces in Iraq to crack down on an estimated 4,000 rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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