punditman says@ 1:30 EDT
What’s next Emperor Bonaparte…ah…I mean Bush? Are you having fun yet, overseeing all you hath wrought? Are you still sleeping soundly?
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, today denied any immediate plans to authorise a military invasion in northern Iraq.
But he hinted that once elections have taken place later this month that he would reassess Turkey’s options.
Mr Erdogan’s comments came amid growing speculation that massed Turkish troops will make good a threat to move across the border to clamp down on separatist Kurdish rebels who use bases there for attacks into Turkey.
Asked if he would reconvene Parliament to authorise military action, a move that would be popular with Turkish public, he said: “Not now. We have 12 days to elections… At the moment our agenda for that period does not contain the issue of (Parliamentary) permission (for an incursion).”
But he refused to rule out the prospect, adding: “This does not mean that it will never happen. We will not hesitate to take any required steps in this regard whenever it should become necessary. But the relevant organs and institutions have not yet reported to us regarding the steps that would make this a necessity.”
Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, had earlier given warning that 140,000 Turkish troops were massed in Turkey’s border region, ready for attack. He urged Ankara to withdraw and join talks over the problem of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels exploiting Iraqi chaos to hurt Turkey.
Turkey has not directly responded to the statement, but officials assert Ankara’s right to invade if the US and Iraq do not stem the flow of guerrillas and weapons across the border.