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Duelling narratives on cross-border terrorism

Cross-border terrorism is a many-splendoured thing. The lines blur between the good and the bad. Take Turkey’s Kurdish problem. Very few countries have suffered from cross-border terrorism as Turkey has. No small matter that over 30000 Turkish lives have been lost. The Kurdish guerillas operate out of northern Iraq. But they have had many alleged patrons and benefactors, including even Turkey’s friends and allies.

In the wake of the devastating Kurdish guerilla attack Tuesday, killing 24 Turkish troops and injuring 18 others, Iranian FM Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Ankara today to discuss how the two countries could cooperate to meet the current wave of Kurdish militancy. Amongst other things, Salehi made a pertinent point that the death of Turkish soldiers could have been avoided if only the United States had shared intelligence with Ankara. After all, US surveillance drones are constantly and minutely scanning northern Iraq. (Israeli intelligence is also active in northern Iraq.)
Washington, of course, is very pleased about the recent chill in Turkish-Iranian ties following Ankara’s decision to allow the deployment of the US’s ABM system in Malatya. Turkey’s proactive role on Syria also irritates Iran. Now, cross-border terrorism brings Turkey and Iran back together again. As Salehi put it, Kurdish terrorist groups pose “common problems” for Iran and Turkey. 
Did the US overplay its card? Ankara refuses to be persuaded that there has been an Iranian plot recently to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US. Logically, Turkey would run into American arms in the face of Tuesday’s guerilla attack and beg for better intelligence-sharing. On the contrary, Turkey got together with Iran. Certainly, a setback to US diplomacy? 
The AfPak makes another case study. WaPo featured a rare piece on what might be going on along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The US stance is that the insurgents from Pakistan are indulging in cross-border terrorism and the Pakistani military is conniving with the Taliban. Now, WaPo admits that there could be a reverse flow of cross-border terrorism as well – into Pakistan, under the watchful eye of the US forces.
WaPo reveals that “for the past several months”, Americans could have been “boosting pressure on Pakistan by allowing the [cross-border] attacks inside Pakistan.” The White House decision to reward David Petraeus by elevating him as CIA director indeed makes sense. 

Posted in Politics.

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