Turkey and Iraq Tread Carefully in Kurdistan

They can't ignore each other, but neither can they do what they need to effectively counter the other.

Last week, a Turkish drone strike allegedly targeting a convoy of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, an insurgent group based in northern Iraq and Turkey, killed two high-ranking Iraqi border battalion commanders, creating a new row between Ankara and Baghdad. Within hours of the attack, the Iraqi government canceled a meeting with Turkey’s Defense Minister that was to be held that week, summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad, sent military reinforcements to the Iraq-Turkey border, and publicly condemned the Turkish strike as a violation of its sovereignty. Baghdad’s highest military body, the National Security Council, announced it would take “all possible means” to defend itself against Turkish “aggression.” Iraq’s quick and hardline response to the Turkish attack suggests it is the latest Middle Eastern government to join the expanding anti-Turkey coalition in the region. But whatever Baghdad’s intentions, political gridlock, security fragmentation and a weak military will prevent it from doing much beyond making empty diplomatic gestures. Ironically, Turkey is similarly constrained. Though it wants to give the impression that it can project long-term security influence and establish a buffer zone in northern Iraq, prevent violence from spreading to Turkey, and exploit new revenue streams, a struggling economy, lagging […]

Subscribe to Geopolitical Futures today and get:

  • Unbiased analysis of global events
  • Daily geopolitical briefing
  • Annual and long-term forecasts to help you prepare for your future
Subscription Options
Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.