On Wednesday, the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee passed a
resolution that deemed Turkey responsible for the killing of 1.5 million
Armenians during World War I. Turkey has warned of a crisis in U.S.
relations if the resolution, which termed the Armenian deaths a genocide,
was passed by the full House, Middle East Newsline reported.
Turkey has served as the route for 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed
for Iraq. About one-third of U.S. military fuel as well as 95 percent of new
vehicles designed to resist improvised explosive devices in Iraq were said
to pass through Turkey.
"Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would very
much be put at risk if this resolution passes and Turkey reacts as strongly
as we believe they will," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
Officials said the Turkish General Staff has relayed a series of options
to the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan for a military invasion of
Iraq. They said the most far-reaching proposal called for a long-term
Turkish military stay in northern Iraq near the provincial capital of
"There is no need to say something new," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister
Cicek said. "Everything will be done in a planned way."
Officials said Erdogan would attempt to block any approval for a Turkish
invasion until the end of November. They said the prime minister intends to
meet U.S. President George Bush in Washington during the second half of next
Over the last 15 years, Turkey has maintained a brigade just inside Iraq
under an agreement with Iraqi Kurds. But the brigade has been deployed in
northwestern Iraq, far from the PKK camps.
The military has been urging the government to exploit any Turkish
invasion to prevent the Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk. Kirkuk, regarded as the
oil capital of northern Iraq, contains a large Turkish minority.
Officials said the military recommendations were being examined by
government and parliamentary leaders. They said they expected parliament to
approve a major military operation over the next few days in wake of the
House Foreign Relations Committee resolution on the Armenian genocide.
Amid Ankara's preparations, the PKK was said to have withdrawn its units
from Turkey and returned to camps in Iraq's Kandil mountains, about 65
kilometers south of the border. Officials said the PKK has used the Garbar
mountains as a supply route to Turkey.
On Wednesday, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that the military
shelled PKK camps in northern Iraq. Hurriyet said Turkish forces also
targeted PKK fighters in Garbar.
"A cross-border operation in the spring would undoubtedly have affected
PKK's offensive capabilities during the subsequent campaigning season." the
Washington-based Jamestown Foundation said. "However, an autumn operation,
when the campaigning season is already drawing to a close, is likely to have
only a limited effect on the PKK's ability to return to the offensive once
the winter snows begin to melt in spring 2008.
Still, the Erdogan government has been under pressure to authorize
massive retaliation against the PKK in wake of the killing of 15 Turkish
soldiers in a 24-hour period this week. Opposition parties have urged the
government to approve a military invasion despite U.S. opposition.
"I suggest the prime minister hold a referendum on the cross-border
operation," Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli said. "Turkey
is not a small sized cantonal state. It can't be governed through
instructions of other countries."