In defense of the Administration's policies in Iraq, supporters may be tempted to say "It could always be worse." Indeed, it can be
Turkish officials signaled Tuesday they are prepared to send the army into northern Iraq if U.S. and Iraqi forces do not take steps to combat Turkish Kurdish guerrillas there - a move that could put Turkey on a collision course with the United States.
Turkey is facing increasing domestic pressure to act after 15 soldiers, police and guards were killed fighting the guerrillas in southeastern Turkey in the past week.
American officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have repeatedly warned Turkey against entering northern Iraq, one of the few stable areas of the country.
A Turkish push into northern Iraq could also threaten relations with European Union countries, which have been pressing Turkey to improve rights for minority Kurds.
The Turkish Kurdish guerrillas are mostly based in the Qandil mountains, an area 50 miles from the Turkish border with Iran. From Iraq, the guerrillas infiltrate southeastern Turkey to stage attacks.
Turkey has long had some 2,000 troops in northern Iraq near the border monitoring the area. But if Turkey sent in military units they would have to travel through territory controlled by Iraqi Kurds.
The dream for an indepedent Kurdistan rears its ugly head. Turkey believes
that its struggle is a part of the war on terror.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rapped the United States on Tuesday for tolerating Israel's attacks on its enemies in Lebanon while refusing to allow Ankara to crush Kurdish rebels hiding in northern Iraq.
Ankara has long urged U.S. and Iraqi forces to crack down on several thousand militants of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) holed up in the mountains of mainly Kurdish northern Iraq, which they use as a springboard to attack targets inside Turkey.
The United States, like Turkey and the European Union, views the PKK as a terrorist organisation, but says broader security problems in Iraq prevent the kind of full-scale military crackdown on the group that Ankara demands.
Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.