By Dr. Hicran Kazancı
The majority of the combat troops of the USA have began to withdraw from Iraq. According to the agreement made between USA-IRAQ, the withdrawal shall be completed until the middle of 2011. However, approximately 50 thousand US non-combatant personnel shall remain in Iraq for purposes such as the training of Iraqi military and security forces.
According to the Rand Corporation Research Center, the incidents and risks pertaining to US troops withdrawing from Iraq consist of the following:
1-During the seven years that the US presence was in Iraq, various groups in Iraq feel that the Iraqi Kurds have received much more than their fair share and these groups feel an antipathy towards the Kurds. During the US withdrawal from Iraq, it is probable that these groups will turn this occasion into an opportunity to retaliate. Such a development may lead into a civil war.
2-The Iraqi Kurds may start a movement for independence.
3-The Iraqi Kurds may take action in order to enlarge their autonomous geographical area.
4-The Iraqi Kurds may endeavor to occupy controversial areas.
In case any of the above mentioned risks is realized, the country will be dragged into civil strife and conflict. For this reason, if the USA does not want to see this happen after its withdrawal from Iraq, it must take preventive action regarding the Iraqi Kurds now. Both the neighboring countries of Iraq as well as the citizens remaining in Iraq are definitely against any movement on the part of the Kurds toward an independent structure. For this reason, such an inception by the Kurds will lead to serious strife within the country as well as threaten regional stability. In this sense, we are faced with the reality that an independent structure in northern Iraq in the short and medium term is unfeasible. If the Kurds go for independent statehood, it is without doubt that this state will not go beyond being an empty frame. In addition, the USA shall endeavor to work on a formula which would ensure a compromise and be acceptable to the Iraqi groups and resolve the attempts at establishing sovereignty over conflict areas and the efforts of the Iraqi Kurds to expand the autonomous regions. The USA intends to ensure that the system it has established in Iraq is not compromised and continues to function. In other words, any attempts at disruption will be prevented.
If Turkey is to have positive relations with both Iraq and Northern Iraq, it is vital that the PKK terror organization is eliminated. Particularly, the elimination of the PKK terror organization will also eliminate Turkey’s justification for intervention in Northern Iraq. In conclusion, it is crucial that the intelligence cooperation process regarding the PKK terror organization carried out by the USA-Turkey transforms into a PKK terror organization elimination process.
Before its intervention in Iraq, the USA endeavored to gain the support of Turkey. For this purpose, high level US delegations visited Turkey. The visiting US delegations were told by Turkish officials that such a military enterprise would amount to “opening Pandora’s box and the gates of hell”. Turkish officials even endeavored to discourage the US government from such an enterprise. There are approximately 2.700 different clans and 16 various sects with mutual ties living in a geographical area spreading from Africa to the Middle East and on to Central Asia. Interfering with any part of this structure will result in disrupting the established system on this large geographical area and it will be impossible to prevent the ensuing chaos. However, the Bush administration did not take the Turkish discourse seriously. At that time, the USA was determined to redraw the maps of the Middle Eastern countries within the scope of the Great Middle East Project and had selected Iraq as its starting point. The intervention on Iraq opened Pandora’s box. As a result, Iraq was almost divided into three parts during 2005 and 2006. However, the US which wanted to divide Iraq was politically shattered. The division of Iraq was prevented by neighboring countries which did not sanction the division. Now that the US is withdrawing from Iraq, in order to protect its interests, it wants to have stable Iraq with good relations with its neighboring countries. In addition, the US wants all the countries in the region to develop friendly relations. The country to lead these efforts is Turkey. Because of its status, Turkey is in a position to design the region and the US prefers that the region is administered rather than lead by a country which is well familiar with the region. A short while after the Hariri assassination which took place on the 14th of February 2005 in Lebanon, Turkey prevented an intervention of the US on Syria which was about to take place. Since Turkey has always taken part to bring about peace and its status as a structural regional power, the US has put Turkey in the forefront as the leading force in the Middle East for the new era. Including its relations with the regional countries as well as the importance given to stability, peace and security, Turkey applies a zero problem policy with its neighbors. However, it is clear that the valid policy in the Middle East is power. If mutual goodwill is not the rule and power is inadequate, the zero problem policy will not be sufficient.
Dr. Hicran Kazancı
Iraqi Turkmen Front