Tony Blankley

As a result, Turkey has been reinforcing its troops along the border with Iraq and the powerful Turkish Army General Staff stresses its readiness for a cross-border operation to crush the PKK. The Turkish foreign minister also told an E.U. meeting a few days ago that Turkey has every right to take measures against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq. Thus the crisis approaches.

Both Turkey and the Kurds have been our historic allies. Since the Iraqi war started we have constantly asked Turkey to be patient with the Kurds and not to intervene in Iraqi Kurdish territory over the PKK (even though they are killing Turks in their terrorist attacks). So far they have complied. Meanwhile, we have asked the Iraqi Kurds not to assert any independence claims. So far they have complied.

But events are unfolding dangerously. The Turkish Army -- as the ultimate defender of a secular Turkish culture and state -- is in an increasingly strategic public struggle with revanchist Islamist forces in Turkey. It is a real possibility that there may be a showdown or coup d'etat against the Islamist government by the Turkish Army this fall.

Fighting the secular PKK is very popular in Turkey -- especially amongst religious Turkish people living outside the big cities. The PKK has recently drawn blood again. The Army believes it could strengthen its domestic political position by crossing over the border and (they believe) "crush" the PKK. Thus the Turkish army has both a legitimate national security concern and a political calculation for taking military action imminently.

If they take such action, it might be a quick and successful suppression of the terrorist PKK. But there is a big risk that it will either fail in that regard, or will induce a broader Kurdish military response (or will fail because it will induce a broader Kurdish response). In that event the Turkish army will discover the "pleasures" of a Kurdish insurgency similar to our experience with the Sunni insurgency in Bagdhad and environs.

Moreover, if fighting and instability breaks out in the Kurdish north, it will have major negative economic effects on all of Iraq.

So, the United States and the Europeans are again calling for Turkey to restrain itself. This time, that may not be enough. Just about the last thing we want to see is a Turkish/Kurd war to break out.

We can no longer just ask Turkey to restrain itself. It is time to flop down on the side of American action to really pressure our Kurdish friends and allies to take such actions as will convince Turkey that military invasion is not necessary to stop the PKK terrorists from using Iraq as a base of operation. Whether U.S. troops movements up to the Iraqi/Turkish border is wise or foolish should be decided promptly by our smartest military and diplomatic people on the ground there -- and acted on promptly. We could easily get overtaken by dangerous events very suddenly.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate