With so much attention on the removal of the US military presence from the streets of Iraq, very little was paid to the skies. Looking up, however, Iraqis will continue to see the US looming overhead.
That’s because according to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the Iraqi government has granted the US permission to continue to fly Predator Drones over Iraqi airspace, nominally to look for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants. The drones will fly out of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base
The PKK’s operations are almost exclusively a Turkish problem, with the group launching regular attacks against military targets inside of Turkey. They often use the mountainous regions in Iraqi Kurdistan as a hiding place after attacks.
The revelation is likely to be controversial inside Iraq, as the drones will be facilitating Turkish strikes on Iraqi territory at a time when the Iraqi government has been publicly demanding that Turkey halt such attacks.