Turkey in Iraq: Withdrawal or Buffer Zone?

I mentioned yesterday that Turkish withdrawal from Iraqi Kurdistan might be as blurry as what’s actually going on in the Qandil Mountains. Here’s what the Turkish general staff thinks it will look like: The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will create temporary security bases in northern Iraq after troops wrap up an ongoing ground offensive in the region against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), security sources told Today’s Zaman. The army plans to establish 11 temporary bases south of the border with Iraq to prevent the PKK ever again using this territory to launch attacks on Turkey, after pulling out […]

Endless Surge

In comments over at Headline Junky, reader GS flagged this sentence from Sam Brannen’s WPR piece about the Surge: “The United States is now the thread that binds Iraq, and it is clear that a serious unraveling of the situation would occur were this thread suddenly to be pulled away.” GS wondered: If this be the case, we are in a situation from which there is no exit. Does this make McCain right for saying he’d stay there for another hundred years? Does it make Obama wrong for saying we need to remove ourselves ASAP (and who knows what ASAP […]

The U.S.-Iran Nuclear Standoff

Laura Rozen’s got a write-up of Nick Burns’ address to the Council on Foreign Relations. She also points to this NYRB piece by Thomas Pickering, William Luers and Jim Walsh titled, modestly enough, “A Solution to the U.S.-Iran Nuclear Standoff.” Laura was impressed by the longer time horizon Burns gave to resolve the Iran standoff (he believes it will play out at least into 2009), as well as by the more optimistic tone he adopted when discussing possible diplomatic solutions. Among the potential outcomes he mentioned was the oft-floated idea of a multi-lateral consortium enriching uranium outside Iran, with Russia […]

Turkey, the Kurds, and Iran

I mentioned that I spoke with a well-informed European official about the IAEA’s Iran report. On a hunch, I asked him what kind ofstrategic impact Turkey — whichhas really stayed on the sidelines of this issue — could make byactively siding with the West’s position. Without hesitation he saidit would make a huge difference. In addition to the obvious reasons(Islamic country, regional power, etc.), he explained that Turkey isone of the countries in the region he would be most worried aboutseeking a nuclear weapons capacity should Iran aquire a nuclear bomb.Although he did not explicitly connect the dots, I interpreted […]

Background on the IAEA’s Iran Report

I spoke with a well-informed European official, who was willing to provide some background to Friday’s IAEA Iran report on condition of anonymity. Now this person is not necessarily a disinterested observer, so there’s an element of spin to his observations. But I thought they were worth passing on because I’m familiar with his thinking on the matter and I consider it both sincere and convincing. He disagreed with the suggestion that the report was significant mainly for its difference in nuance to previous reports. The section on “alleged studies” (ie. weaponization programs), he said, was “something major” and included […]

McCain’s Softer Side

There’s been a lot of speculation about what a John McCain presidency would mean in terms of America’s military adventurism. But anyone worried about McCain’s hawkish declarations regarding a 100-year occupation of Iraq should find this video, courtesy of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, reassuring. McCain, it seems, has accepted the limits of American military influence, and once President would focus more on “culture-building” and “velvet revolution” operations funded by his friend and co-conspirator, “Jewish tycoon” George Soros. I should note that the idea that America is trying to gather intelligence through recruiting a sympathetic network of influential and well-placed Iranian […]

The IAEA Report: Net Loss For Iran

Via Laura Rozen at MoJo, who has an excellent post on the subject, comes this .pdf file of the IAEA’s Iran report. Laura has some analysis from Jacqueline Shire of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), and Arms Control Wonk has more worth reading here and here. A quick comparison of this report with the last one released just prior to the NIE indicates that while Iran has shed more light on various elements of the program, the sheer weight of the new allegations raised (thanks to American intelligence sharing) make the bottom line a net loss for […]

The IAEA Report: Putting Time on the Clock

There’s been a lot of speculation about just how far the latest IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program would go towards letting Tehran off the hook. The fact that in the past few weeks the U.S. turned over longheld intelligence to the IAEA and that France ratcheted up the rhetoric significantly is a measure of just how anxious Washington and Paris were about the possibility. Well, the report was just distributed to the IAEA Board of Governors yesterday and bits and pieces are starting to leak out, including portions that confirm increased Iranian cooperation with various outstanding issues, some […]