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Parliament speaker warns Turkey against interfering in Iraq's affairs
by reposted
Friday Apr 13th, 2007 8:06 AM
BAGHDAD: The fiery speaker of Iraq's parliament on Friday joined the increasingly heated war of words with Turkey, warning Ankara that "the hand that reaches out to interfere in our internal affairs will be cut."
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, speaking during an extraordinary Friday session a day after a suicide bomber killed one lawmaker in the parliament dining hall, also issued strong backing for a Kurdish leader who has been at the center of the angry debate over Turkish challenges on the future status of Kirkuk, the oil rich city in northern Iraq.

Al-Mashhadani issued the rhetorical threat one day after Turkey's military asked the government to approve attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq — a signal of growing frustration over a lack of action against the guerrillas by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

"An operation into Iraq is necessary," said Turkish chief of the armed forces Gen. Yasar Buyukanit.

Al-Mashhadani fired back 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."

The European Commission on Friday urged Turkey and Iraq to settle their differences in a peaceful manner after Turkey's top general said it was necessary to launch a cross-border military operation into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels.
"Our hope and the interest of all involved is that possible differences are dealt with in a peaceful and constructive manner," EU spokeswoman for enlargement Krisztina Nagy told reporters.

Nagy did not comment directly on a statement by armed forces chief of staff General Yasar Buyukanit that a military operation in northern Iraq appeared necessary but required political authorization.

Nagy said the European Union was watching events closely. Turkey is currently negotiating to join the 27-nation bloc.

"The stability of Iraq is in our common interest and the EU recognizes the constructive role Turkey plays in the area," said Nagy, adding: "It is important that Turkey continues to play such a constructive role. "

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey's army chief said Thursday the military had launched several “large scale” offensives against rebels in the predominantly Kurdish southeast, and he asked the government for approval to launch an incursion into neighboring northern Iraq.

Washington repeatedly has cautioned Turkey against staging a cross-border offensive, fearing that it could destabilize the region and antagonize Iraqi Kurds, who are allied with the U.S.

But Iraq's government is barely able to control its own cities. U.S. commanders, who are battling the Iraqi insurgency in the middle of the country, are stretched too thin to take on Turkish Kurds hiding in remote mountains near the frontier.

On Monday, the Turkish government demanded again that U.S. and Iraqi officials crack down on guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

“An operation into Iraq is necessary,” said Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the head of Turkey's powerful military. “The PKK has huge freedom of movement in Iraq ... It has spread its roots in Iraq.”

Buyukanit said the military already was moving against separatists in the southeast.

“There are several large-scale operations under way in several areas,” Buyukanit told a press conference. “Our aim is to prevent them from taking positions in the region with the coming of spring.”