The remote and forbidding mountains in Turkey, Iraq and Iran have never really belonged to anyone. Rugged and nearly impenetrable, one can hide where one likes without having to worry about any force or government. But just because the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] have now taken refuge in the mountains of Iraq doesn’t mean that the group’s 30-year-old crisis with Turkey has become an Iraqi-wide issue, nor does it mean that it will have repercussions on the entire country.
Rather than involving Baghdad, Ankara should negotiate with Washington directly over the PKK, because the Americans are quite familiar with the party’s movements and its plans.
After all, the Americans have many interests that at stake with the Turks, all of which ebb and flow with the changing conditions, which is a point that became clear when Washington launched the Iraq War in 2003 and Ankara refused the United States use of the Incirlik Air base.
Also recently, the crisis in relations between Washington and Ankara reached a new low, when the U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling what happened to the Armenians from 1915 to 1917 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire “genocide.” There are therefore a number of matters pending between the two “strong allies,” who may not have reached the stage of open hostilities, but without doubt, whose alliance is entering a new phase.
Turkey is still in the midst of trying to enter the European Union, which is an effort that could take another 20 years. But by virtue of geography alone, they can actively benefit from European backing to make up for any lack of attentiveness on the part of the Americans. At the same time, Washington has no substitute for Turkey in the region. Because Iraq may be under U.S. control, but it’ll take decades for it or a part of it to become a strategic U.S. ally of Turkey’s calibre.
The issue of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party cannot be addressed outside of this context. Thus it will remain unresolved until the time comes to resolve issues far greater … and that day does not appear close at hand!