Is Turkey Changing Sides?

Q. What do you make of the news that Turkey has teamed up with Iran to attack the Kurds in Northern Iraq? Who are the Kurds anyway?

A. In the Qandil (Kandil) Mountains, where Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria all meet lies the ancestral homeland of the Kurds, known in history as the Medes, who were partners with Persia in defeating Babylon.

The Kurds call this area Kurdistan, but the land they refer to technically belongs to the four neighbors mentioned above, none of whom want to give it up. Turkey is perhaps the most determined, having suffered numerous terrorist attacks at the hand of the PUK, a group of militant Kurdish separatists. One of the reasons that Turkey refused to help in the current war in Iraq is that the USA refused to deny the Kurds a voice in governing post-war Iraq.

Turkey has been legitimately afraid that in return for Kurdish assistance in deposing Saddam Hussein (it was the Kurds who located Saddam and tipped off US troops) the US would permit at least unofficial attempts to establish a Kurdish homeland on land that Turkey claims. Turkey has maintained up to 20,000 troops on its border with Iraq to prevent such a move.

And in fact the US has been vacillating on the Kurdish issue, even publishing a map of the region showing the presence of a Kurdish entity. US officials later claimed it didn’t accurately reflect US policy. Turkey is skeptical.

Iran sees this situation as an opportunity to further strengthen its regional position and has teamed up with Turkey to assist in removing a force of 5000 PUK soldiers from the area where Iran abuts Iraq in the Qandil Mountains. According to several news and intelligence sources they already have positioned troops some 7-8 km inside Iraq and have begun shelling the mountain hideouts. The situation for Turkey offers some big incentives. Not only do they get help in spanking the PUK, but have made it known that they have their eye on Kirkuk, an Iraqi city in the area that produces 40% of Iraq’s oil output, and that Turkey had made claim to before.

For its part Iran also sees a chance grab a chunk of Northern Iraq for itself. In addition Iran wants to destroy forward intelligence positions the Israelis may have secretly placed among the Kurds to help them receive the earliest possible warning of an Iranian attack on Israel. Knocking out these posts would give the Iranians two significant victories against Israel within the span of just a few months, the war in Lebanon being the other. The loss of this intelligence would no doubt reduce the possibility for a successful US-Israeli attack against Iran, too. Russian and Iranian intelligence experts are both predicting such an attack before the end of 2006.

Many observers believe it’s already too late to stop the Turkey-Iran initiative. The question is whether it will blossom into yet another Mid-East war pitting the US, Iraq, and Israel against Iran, Turkey, and possibly Syria.

As students of prophecy, we should follow these developments closely. Turkey is felt by most to be a modern component along with Armenia of the Beth Togarmah mentioned in Ezekiel 38:6, part of the group that attacks Israel. We’ve long maintained that as long as Turkey is aligned with the west the battle of Ezekiel 38 can’t happen. Bringing Turkey into the Moslem alliance against Israel would remove one more roadblock to its fulfillment. There aren’t many left.

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