“Mideast crisis widens as Turkey bombs Kurdish militants,” by Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk, Reuters, October 14, 2014 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
(Reuters) – War against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq threatened on Tuesday to unravel the delicate peace in neighbouring Turkey after the Turkish air force bombed Kurdish fighters furious over Ankara’s refusal to help protect their kin in Syria.
Turkey’s banned PKK Kurdish militant group accused Ankara of violating a two-year-old cease-fire with the air strikes, on the eve of a deadline set by the group’s jailed leader to salvage a peace process aimed at halting a three-decades-long insurgency.
At least 35 people were killed in riots last week when members of Turkey’s 15-million-strong Kurdish minority rose up in anger at the government for refusing to help defend the Syrian border town of Kobani from an Islamic State assault.
“For the first time in nearly two years, an air operation was carried out against our forces by the occupying Turkish Republic army,” the PKK said. “These attacks against two guerrilla bases at Daglica violated the ceasefire,” the PKK said, referring to an area near the border with Iraq.
The unrest in Turkey raised serious concerns that a peace process between Turkey and its Kurds could be in danger of collapse, a new source of turmoil in a region consumed by Iraqi and Syrian civil wars and an international campaign against Islamic State fighters.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who ordered a bombing campaign against Islamic State fighters that started in August, was to discuss the strategy on Tuesday with military leaders from 20 countries, including Turkey, Arab states and Western allies.
Washington has faced the difficult task of building a coalition to intervene in Syria and Iraq, two countries with complex multi-sided civil wars in which most of the nations of the Middle East have enemies and clients on the ground.
In particular, U.S. officials have expressed frustration at Turkey’s refusal to help them fight against Islamic State. Washington has said Turkey has agreed to let it strike from Turkish air base; Ankara says this is still under discussion.
NATO-member Turkey has refused to join the coalition unless it also confronts Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a demand that Washington, which flies its air missions over Syria without objection from Assad, has so far rejected….