Turkey tightens security against Kurdish rebels

Turkey has stepped up protection for its section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline following the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) threats to attack the line.

Oct 19th, 2007

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 19 -- Turkey has stepped up protection for its section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline following the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) threats to attack the line.

A senior official in the Turkish ministry of energy said security measures have been stepped up, saying it is normal to have some threats against important pipelines when Turkey is expected to launch a military offensive into northern Iraq.

The Turkish parliament Oct. 17, by a vote of 507-19, authorized the government to send troops into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels based there who have increased cross-border attacks in southeastern Turkey over the past 6 months.

The crisis along the border, where Turkish troops have been massed since summer, has driven up oil prices, which surged briefly to a record $89/bbl just after the parliament's Oct. 17 vote. Traders worry that any escalation in the conflict will cut oil supplies from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Underlining that concern, a Kurdish lawmaker in Iraq, Adnan al-Mufti, speaker of the regional parliament, said a Turkish incursion would threaten the relative stability of the autonomous Kurdish region and he called on Turkey to deal with the issue peacefully.

While winning parliamentary approval for the incursion, Turkish authorities have nonetheless urged the Iraqi government to rein in the rebels. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned, however, that if Baghdad does not solve the problem, his government will have no choice but to pursue the PKK inside Iraq.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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