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Indybay Feature
Sat Apr 14 2007
Tensions Rise Between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey
Turkish army calls for Iraq raid
In December, there will be a referendum when the 1.8 million people of Kirkuk province will vote on joinning the autonomous Kurdish region. Kirkuk was a mainly non-Kurdish city at the time of the US invasion but has faced attempts at ethnic cleansing by Kurdish militias who hope for the city to be the future capital of a Kurdish state. On April 6th, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, said that Turkey must not interfere in the Kurds' bid to attach northern Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish semiautonomous zone, otherwise Iraq's Kurds will retaliate by intervening in Turkey's southeast.

Turkish Kurds face descrimination and oppression at the hands of the Turkish majority. In the 1980s, Kurdish rebels took up arms to demand autonomy and tens of thousands died in over ten years of war. While fighting subsided in the last 1990s, clashes between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military have been increasing in recent months, with Turkey claiming that many of the attackers are coming from within Iraq. On April 12th, 2007, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, the head of Turkey's army, called for a military operation in northern Iraq to target Kurdish rebels.

On April 13th, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Iraq's parliament, joined the increasingly heated war of words with Turkey, warning Ankara that "the hand that will be extended to interfere in our internal affairs will be cut, if not today then tomorrow." Speaking the day after a suicide bomber killed one lawmaker in the parliament dining hall, he issued strong backing for Barzani.

Massoud Barzani has also spoken out against the US kidnapping of Iranian diplomats in Irbil in January. Barzani suggested that the US forces had hoped to capture senior members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards who were visiting the area at the time. Instead the US seized five Iranian diplomats. "It [the house] was not a secret Iranian office," Barzani said. "It is impossible for us to accept that an Iranian office in Irbil was doing things against coalition forces or against us. That office was doing its work in a normal way and had they been doing anything hostile we would have known that."

Iraqi Kurdistan leader Barzani stands by challenging Turkey on Kirkuk | Parliament speaker warns Turkey against interfering in Iraq's affairs | Juan Cole: Turkey Threatens to Invade Iraq | Turkish army calls for Iraq raid | Turkey calls on Iraq once again to stop Kurdish rebels | Turkish/ Iraqi Kurdish Crisis over Barzani Comments | The Kurdish Case Against Turkey | Kurdish rebels kill Turkey troops | Brand New Front in Iraq War - Turkey vs Kurdish Guerrillas

Previous Indybay Coverage Of Kurdistan and Kirkuk:
2007: Iraq Backs Arab Relocation for Kirkuk | Oil-rich Kirkuk at melting point as factions clash | In Iraq, Kurdish militia has the run of oil-rich Kirkuk
2006: Ethnic Tensions Rising in Kirkuk | Bloodbath in Kirkuk | Kurdish-Shiite Struggle for Kirkuk Provokes Violence in Shiite South
2005: Kurdish Politicians Sanction Kirkuk Abductions | The Coming Clash Over Kirkuk | Turkey slams U.S. failure to halt Kurds' designs on Kirkuk | Sistani Opposes Ceding Kirkuk to Kurdistan | Kirkuk a Key Election Issue for Kurds | Kurds Win Majority In Iraq's Disputed Kirkuk Province | Kurds accused of rigging Kirkuk vote | Everybody’s business is nobody’s business in Kirkuk
2004: Kurds Call For Independence From Iraq
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