|WASHINGTON - TDN Defense Desk|
Richard Lugar, the influential chairman of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, said that gaining control of the vast oil assets of Kirkuk might prompt Kurds in northern Iraq to seek the creation of a "greater Kurdistan" in the Middle East.
Addressing a news conference in Congress, he warned against Iraq's disintegration into three parts and said, "As a result, conflicts could occur involving nation states and/or militias." He said Iraqi Kurdish moves toward full independence "would make Turks very nervous."
A new Iraqi Constitution adopted in October de jure confirmed the creation of a semi-autonomous Kurdish region within a federal Iraq
|CONGRESS STARTS TO WORRY OVER KURDS |
WASHINGTON - Congress has begun to express concern over the U.S. alliance with the Kurdish community in Iraq.
Leading members of Congress said the U.S. alliance with the Iraqi Kurds has advanced their goal of a separate state next to Turkey. They said the Kurds were seeking to gain control over the vast crude oil reserves around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk in an effort to guarantee revenues for any future state. [See story in Middle East Energy section.]
Some in Congress envision a scenario in which Turkey's large Kurdish minority would seek to join any Iraqi Kurdish state. Turkey has been a major NATO ally, and House and Senate leaders have sought to renew the close U.S . ties with Ankara disrupted by the war in Iraq .
"If they [Kurds] had the oil from Kirkuk, for example, this might be enticing once again to those in Turkey who wish to join with them, or those in Iran or anywhere else who want to become a greater Kurdistan," Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar said.
|TURKEY, U.S. PREPARE FOR PKK TALKS |
ANKARA [MENL] -- Turkey and the United States plan to hold a military summit on the future of the Kurdish Workers Party in Iraq.
Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Yasar Buyukanit was scheduled to meet U.S. military commanders in Washington during a four-day visit. The visit was meant to begin on Dec. 10 and focus on the PKK presence in northern Iraq and othe regional issues.
Officials said Buyukanit, expected to be appointed military chief of staff in 2006, would press the U.S. military and Defense Department to honor their pledge to eliminate the PKK presence from northern Iraq. They said Turkey intends to launch a joint operation to expel the PKK from the Kandil mountains before the start of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Turkey has sought cooperation from Kurdish militias in northern Iraq to end support for the PKK. Officials said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has assured Ankara that the Baghdad government would fully cooperate with any campaign to eliminate PKK bases. Talabani, who also heads the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said Baghdad would seek financial compensation for such a move.