Baghdad: A Kurdish rebel leader threatened yesterday to strike an oil pipeline running into Turkey if the Turkish military targets bases of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, in northern Iraq.
"When Turkey starts a military operation against our bases, we will defend ourselves by targeting economic sites and one of our options is to hit the oil pipeline going from Kurdistan to Turkey because of the great economic value of this pipeline to Turkey and its army," Murat Karayilan said.
The most senior leader in Iraq's Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, appeared to raise the stakes in the standoff on Friday, warning Turkey that the region would defend itself against any cross-border military strike on rebel bases.
The tough line taken by the Kurds has stoked worries that a Turkish incursion could ignite a wider cycle of conflict and unrest in one of the few stable corners of Iraq.
Barzani said urgent talks were needed on all sides. But Turkey has flatly declared it is out of patience with escalating attacks by separatist guerrillas who use hideouts in northern Iraq.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK has battled for more than two decades for autonomy in Turkey's southeast.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani slammed his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al Assad's support for a possible Turkish incursion into northern Iraq to tackle Kurdish rebels, a newspaper said yesterday.
"President's [Bashar] remarks are dangerous and run contrary to the spirit of Arab solidarity," Talabani, himself a Kurd, was quoted as saying in an interview with the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat.
"Usually I would refrain from commenting on Syrian positions to preserve our historic ties, but this time I am unable to support the dangerous crossing of red lines."
Bashar said he would support a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq against Turkish Kurdish rebels, calling such action Ankara's "legitimate right".
"How can the president of an Arab state support military intervention against the Iraqi republic?" Talabani was quoted as asking. "This is a serious matter and damaging to relations between the two countries."
Motion: Parliament studies anti-Turkey resolution
Iraq's parliament yesterday discussed a motion condemning Turkey for threatening an incursion to crack down on Kurdish rebels as Baghdad and Ankara were said to be considering a joint operation.
Lawmakers failed to agree on the wording of the motion that would condemn Turkey's parliament for authorising its military to cross the mountainous border to hunt down rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"The Iraqi parliament did not reach a final formula for the draft statement presented by the parliament presidency committee," Speaker Mahmoud Al Mashhadani said.
"The heads of the blocs at the parliament were asked to make other amendments and voting shall take place either [today] or [tomorrow]," he said.
Shiite lawmaker Samira Mussawi told media the disagreement in parliament stemmed from the fact that while many were angry at the developments in Turkey they did not want their motion to further inflame the situation.