The Turkish front

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The Independent Online

Turkey sheepishly promised yesterday that it would not send troops into northern Iraq, unless there is a refugee crisis or a major threat to Turkish security. Western leaders – both pro- and anti-war – would do well to use all possible influence to ensure that the Turks stick to this pledge. Apart from the risk of yet more "friendly fire" incidents with another army in Iraq, the prospect of clashes between the Turks and Kurds is very real. We do not need a second war.

Turkey sheepishly promised yesterday that it would not send troops into northern Iraq, unless there is a refugee crisis or a major threat to Turkish security. Western leaders – both pro- and anti-war – would do well to use all possible influence to ensure that the Turks stick to this pledge. Apart from the risk of yet more "friendly fire" incidents with another army in Iraq, the prospect of clashes between the Turks and Kurds is very real. We do not need a second war.

The Turkish chief of staff's reference to "our strategic ally the United States" will provoke hollow laughter in Washington. The tanks of the 21,000-strong 4th Infantry Division are currently at sea – and will not reach Kuwait until early next month – thanks to Ankara's decision not to allow US troops on Turkish soil. They had every right to refuse; 90 per cent of the population was opposed to war, and their leaders, unlike ours, chose not to overrule that. But there will be a cost. US critics talk of the sentimental Islamicism and lack of foreign affairs experience of the tyro government. Washington may well put pressure on its allies, Britain and Spain, to block Turkey's application to join the EU. The international community should beware kneejerk responses; the question of Turkey and the EU should be decided on other grounds. But that Turkey should stay its hand over the Kurds is in the interests of everyone.

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