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Wednesday, October 3, 2007      New: Take a Stand

Turkish generals see Iraq disintegrating, warn against Kurdish state

ANKARA The Turkish military has issued one of its harshest warnings about the impact of developments in Iraq on its national security.

The Turkish General Staff expressed alarm that Iraq was disintegrating and that the Kurds would declare independence in the autonomous zone in the north.

"We are greatly concerned that Iraq's disintegration is a strong possibility," Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said. "Should an independent state emerge in northern Iraq, it would constitute a major risk to Turkey in both political and security terms."

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[On Tuesday, the Turkish city of Izmir was rocked by two explosions, Middle East Newsline reported. At least one person was killed and two others were injured.]

The chief of staff's warning, issued in an Oct. 1 address to the Turkish War Academy, marked one of the most dire military assessments of Iraq. Last week, Ankara failed to win Baghdad's agreement to pursue PKK fighters into northern Iraq.

Military sources said a Kurdish state would serve the war by the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, against Ankara.

"Forget about a federation or a loose federation, Iraq is fast heading towards a confederal state," Buyukanit said. "This is something that concerns us deeply. When we look at this from a historical perspective we see that states that undergo such a process soon break apart. Iraq is very close to disintegration."

The military sources said Buyukanit's address reflected Ankara's assessment that a Kurdish state has already been established. The sources said the autonomous northern Iraqi region contains elements of a sovereign state, with the Kurdish government providing visas and flying the Kurdish flag on government buildings.

In his address, the chief of staff warned that Ankara would fight the PKK regardless of the situation in Iraq. Buyukanit said the PKK was receiving unspecified foreign support for operations in Turkey.

"We are leading our struggle against terrorism with determination and will continue to do," Buyukanit said. "It is a well-known fact that it is not possible for a terrorist organization to survive without outside help. We have warned several countries on this issue."

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