Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turkey's involvement in Iraq

A report in today's online edition of Hürriyet, Turkey's English-language newspaper, focuses on WikiLeaks documents showing Turkey's attempts to influence the most recent elections in Iraq. These leaks are a source of embarrassment to Turkey because they paint a picture of Turkey and Iran working against each another to influence the outcome of the elections. And in the end, Iran came out on top.

Turkey unsuccessfully sought to replace al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated administration with a Sunni-backed one. But why was Turkey so interested in ousting an administration they had earlier supported? I believe there are two reasons, one religious and one political. Religiously, Turkey's population is 80% Sunni Muslim. So it makes sense for the Turkish government to push for a Sunni-influenced government rather than one dominated by Shiite parties.

But Turkey's support for the Sunni-backed candidates involved more than religious preference. The Shiite-dominated government of al-Maliki is a coalition government composed of both Shiite and Kurdish parties. Turkey continues to battle the Kurds within their own country who are pressing for an independent country of Kurdistan. In supporting the Sunni candidates, Turkey was hoping to weaken the power of the Kurdish party within Iraq. And northern Iraq has been a base of operation--and a safe haven--for Kurdish rebels.

WikiLeaks has certainly harmed the prestige of the United States around the world. But the leaks are also proving to be an embarrassment to other countries, like Turkey, as revelations surface regarding their attempts to shape world events to their own national advantage.

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