Turkey rising (2)

By: Patrick Cockburn
The PKK has killed about 50 Turkish security personnel in recent weeks since it ended its ceasefire earlier in the year. Although Erdogan has brought the Turkish army under civilian control, his government does not want to look weak in any confrontation with the PKK.
It is putting pressure on the Iraqi Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani, to isolate the PKK from its mountain strongholds inside Iraq. Mr Barzani, who would like Turkey as a counter-balance to Baghdad, has demanded in recent days that the PKK and the Kurdish guerrilla movement in Iran give up armed resistance.
Turkey has been playing an increasingly influential role in Iraqi politics because it is able to mediate between different parties, sects and ethnic groups. It also plays a growing commercial role: Turkish companies have even won contracts to collect the rubbish in Baghdad and Basra.
In Syria, Erdogan has criticised President Bashar al-Assad’s repression of protests, probably calculating that his regime is not going to survive, at least in its present form. Similarly in Libya, Turkey was at first slow to break with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, but when it did so, it advanced $300m to the rebels at a time when they were short of money. Turkey was heavily involved in construction in Libya.
Overall, the isolation of Israel, the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, the weakness of the Arab states, and the diminished strength of the US in the region have all worked to Turkey’s advantage.Its influence is growing throughout the region but it is a long way from being in control of events.
Patrick Cockburn is the author of The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq and Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq. –Counter Punch. (END)