Turkey and Iraq: Bridgehead or Bridge?

The prospect of a US-led attack on Iraq comes at a bad time for Turkey, which is reeling from an economic crisis and facing imminent elections. The future of Cyprus and its own European Union membership prospects are also on the line.

The World Today Published 1 October 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 5 minute READ

Bill Park

Senior Lecturer, Wat Studies Group, King's College London

Turkey’s geostrategic location makes it central to Washington’s deliberations, but it fears that an unravelling of the Kurdish issue, regional isolation and severe economic consequences might follow. Its response could be to seek greater control through active participation. But Ankara must once again be ruing the country’s prime strategic location, which it has so often tried to turn to its advantage.

Dull moments are rare in Turkey’s public affairs and this is certainly not one of them. As national elections approach on November 3, the country is facing a number of important issues that interlock in excruciatingly complex ways, including the future of its own European Union (EU) accession and that of Cyprus. In June, Turkey took command of the International Security Assistance Force in a still troubled Afghanistan. Hanging over all of this is the prospect of a US-led military attack on neighbouring Iraq, and the role Turkey might play.

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