As fighter jets continued to pound rebel positions on the sixth full day of the incursion, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it clear that US support for its NATO ally was not open-ended.Yeah, the USA and its allies were only going to be in Iraq for "months, not years" too! Just until we "Get the job done".
The offensive must end quickly, he said.
"I measure quick in terms of days, or a week or two, something like that. Not months," he said in New Delhi before flying to Ankara for talks.
Turkey estimates there are 4,000 PKK rebels holed up in the area it is assaulting. So far they think they have killed 230 of them.
[A] senior Turkish official said the operation would continue until the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community, is uprooted from the region, which it uses a springboard for attacks in Turkey.So the US will pull out when Al Quaeda is eliminated, and Turkey will pull out when Kurdish rebels are eliminated. Brilliant trick by Turkey. They have basically annexed Northern Iraq, stifling all hope of an independent Kurdistan, and the USA cannot say or do a thing about it:
"There will be no timetable to withdraw Turkish troops... until the presence of the terrorist organisation is eliminated," said Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A senior US official travelling with [Robert] Gates to Ankara said they had debated whether to drop Ankara from the secretary's schedule as a message to the Turks.Gates is urging turkey to "deal with some of the issues and complaints that some of the Kurds have and move this in a non-military direction in order to get a long-term solution". That's once again pretty funny, coming from the USA!
"After a short discussion, everybody decided it was best to go and engage the Turks personally," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
When is the media going to start canvassing the possibility that Turkey is in Iraq to stay? It's what I first thought when I read about the latest incursion, and every day only confirms my suspicions.
UPDATE: 24 hours later, and Turkey is talking about a "withdrawal". But the troops being withdrawn are actually being replaced by new ones. And now top Turkish officials are talking about staying in Iraq for a year - which means beyond the bush presidency, which could mean anything at all.
Patrick Cockburn says this could be the final end of the vision for a unified Iraq.