While America’s role in Iraq is being fiercely debated between Congress and White House, Democrats and Republicans, facts on the ground are making it increasingly irrelevant.

The situation in northern Iraq is rapidly becoming a purely regional question.

On Monday, Turkey and Iran launched simultaneous – and possibly co-ordinated – attacks on Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, said to be occupied by PKK guerrillas.

Turkey’s ambassador to the US has repeated his charges that the Iraqi Kurds – ie. their government – is backing PKK guerrillas within Turkey, a move that is part of building the case for a major military incursion following the Turkish elections this weekend.

Should they go in – it would seem unlikely that Iranian ground troops would join them – condemnation from the US will be shrill, but that from Europe will be mute. Why? Because a new Turkey-Iran gas pipeline is on the table. The three-phase project would be a way for Europe to lessen its dependence on Russia for gas supplies.

US criticism of the deal has drawn out the harshest anti-US rhetoric yet, with Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who has threatened to resign if voters don’t give him a two thirds majority on Sunday) saying “Turkey thinks of its own interests and the US will eventually understand this.”

Popular words. The only thing that unites everyone – secular and Islamic – across the political spectrum, is anti-Americanism. According to a recent survey, Turkey is the most anti-American place in the world, the cost of the US’s hypocritical protection of the PKK measured in the blood of conscripts.

The one determinant, the implicit question that every political party is replying to in this election, is how effectively they will protect the republic from “foreign domination”.

And just when it looked like the election couldn’t get any more interesting, there’s the first assassination – of independent candidate Tuncay Seyranlioglu, shot on the way home from a TV interview, though it now looks like his business dealings may have been the motivating factor.

Sure beats Newspoll…

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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