Kurdish rebels from inside Iraq attacked 3 miles inside Turkey and killed perhaps as many as 17 Turkish soldiers on Sunday. Turkey responded by shelling suspected rebel positions, and told Condi Rice she has only a matter of days to make the Iraqis stop the PKK from using Kurdish Iraq as a base of operations to wage terror strikes into Turkey, claiming that under the same self defense rights Bush claims for America against terrorists, Turkey would have a right to attack Iraq. Interestingly, Rice asked the Turkish government to refrain from attacking Iraq at least for a couple of days, so that the Bush Administration could take some steps.
Exactly what steps could the Bush Administration take to stop Turkey from attacking Iraq? Perhaps telling the Iraqi Kurds to rein in their PKK allies, like this? And if Talabani and the rest of the Iraqi Kurds have this much control over the PKK, wouldn't Turkey's worst fears be confirmed, that the US allows the Kurds to harbor the PKK with little concern for Turkey?
And while we watch the Turks ready to set a match to the area because we never controlled the borders and because the Iraqi Kurds don't seem to care, Petraeus instead begins his new policy of going after Shiite militias without Iraqi approval by attacking Sadr City in another apparent provocation that ended up according to the Iraqi government killing more than a dozen innocents rather than our claimed targets. This is a confirmation of the new approach by CENTCOM, which is to minimize American casualties on the ground by raining ever increasing death and destruction from the air. Of course, this strategy leads to more and more killing of innocents, thereby endangering the support we have from the locals.
The new CENTCOM plan, which apparently doesn't have the full support of the Pentagon or the Joint Chiefs but does have the support of the president is to go after Shiite militias regardless of the political difficulties it causes for the al-Maliki government in the hope that doing so creates enough room for al-Maliki to 1) sign a longer term pact with the United States allowing for another 4-5 years of our presence; and 2) push (of course) the Oil Law and re-baathification of the government. It's a questionable strategy at best, given the tenuous status of al-Maliki's support within Iraq; the Iraqis emerging realization that they would be better off without us; and the Pentagon's worry that Petraeus is gobbling up resources on a questionable strategy while other critical needs go unmet.
And this all assumes that things don't go to hell between Turkey and Iraq in the mean time.