For the Kurds, that military build-up is "worrisome" but not anxiety-inducing, according to Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and longtime confidante of the Kurdish political leadership. Galbraith spent the last week in Iraqi Kurdistan, meeting with top Kurdish officials -- including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani -- and found them "not blase about it, but there was not enormous anxiety either." Reached in Copenhagen right after he left Kurdistan, Galbraith told Muckraker that the Kurds thought it was "highly possible that the Turks might do something in the highly mountainous areas" that house "supposed PKK camps" but that there was "no expectation an invasion was imminent."
That's not to say that the threat of a Turkish invasion is gone. While such a move would represent an extreme step -- especially after Defense Secretary Bob Gates pointedly warned the Turks against "unilateral" moves into Iraq -- the Turks' military buildup along their southeastern frontier provides them with a none-too-subtle reminder to the Kurds of their vast military capabilities. Little of enduring significance occurred along the Kurdish-Iraqi border today, but as long as the Turks suffer attacks from the PKK and the Kurds desire their independence, the potential for conflict remains.
So what was the actual incident that sparked today's brief-but-intense international controversy? According to Reuters, this:
Jabar Yawir, deputy minister for Peshmerga Affairs in Kurdistan, said: "This afternoon 10 Turkish helicopters landed in a village in Mazouri, which is ... 3 km (2 miles) inside the Iraqi border. They landed with around 150 Turkish special forces."
"After two hours they left and there were no confrontations with the PKK," he told Reuters. He said the village was in a PKK-controlled area.