Add Kurds, Turks, and Iranians; bring to boil

Back in May, I remarked that the White House didn't seem to have any strategy regarding the Kurds in Iraq except to hand off that whole sticky autonomy thing to the next administration. Unfortunately - and fittingly - it looks like George Bush may have to deal with that explosive situation on his watch. Iran and Turkey, tired of living next door to a haven for Kurdish rebels, are now lobbing shells into northern Iraq and massing troops.

Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases.

Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.

Some displaced families have pitched tents in the valleys behind Qandil Mountain, which straddles Iraq's rugged borders with Turkey and Iran. They told the Guardian yesterday that at least six villages had been abandoned and one person had died following a sustained artillery barrage by Iranian forces that appeared designed to flush out guerrillas linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have hideouts in Iraq.

Turkey - an American ally, a member of NATO, and wannabe European Union member - has long awaited the help of the United States on the matter of the PPK hiding out in Iraq, but to no avail. Now Iran - which cares little for the US or its concerns - is demonstrating to Turkey that waiting on America is a fool's game. The threat that both countries see in an independent Kurdistan can only further destabilize an already tumultous Iraq. What Bush plans to do in answer to their concerns is anybody's guess. As Josh Marshall says, "things can always get worse."

(Cross-posted from Greater St. Louistan...)

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