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Published: Fri Jul 20, 2007

With Sunday's national elections in Turkey on the horizon, decisions on the Kurdish question made to influence the elections could lead to disaster if cooler heads don't prevail, says Tennessee Tech University political science professor Michael Gunter, an internationally recognized expert on the Kurds.

Recent terrorist bombings in Turkey preceding the election have punctuated the renewed clashes between Kurdish separatists PKK and Turkish troops. Speaking to Zaman , Turkey's largest newspaper, Gunter commented on the possibility Turkey might invade Northern Iraq and the current dangerous political situation in Turkey due to the confrontation between the secularists-military versus the AK Party, which are the mild Islamists.

"In the fever of the upcoming July 22 election, everybody in Turkey wants to outdo the opponent and be more of a Turkish national," said Gunter.   "And what better way than to go into Northern Iraq after the PKK.

"Turkey did this several times in the 1990s; massive interventions did not solve the problems," he explained.

"If Turkey went into Northern Iraq now, it's running the risk of actually coming into a clash with the United States, which would be a disaster," Gunter said. "Going into Northern Iraq would probably feed Turkish nationalism."

Gunter, who taught at the International University in Vienna, Austria, this summer, was featured during a 20-minute interview on ORF, the Austrian state radio. The U.S. Embassy sponsored his major talk, "The Changing Dynamics of the Kurdish Question in Iraq and Turkey," to Vienna's diplomatic community. He was also interviewed by the Kurdish journal, Gulan .

Gunter is a prolific writer with more than 100 articles in scholarly journals and books including Middle East Journal, American Journal of International Law and World Affairs. He has authored 13 books about the Kurdish people of Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Iran, and two of those books were among the first analyses in English of the Kurdish unrest in the Middle East.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project, the premier Kurdish rights organization in the world, recently welcomed Gunter to its advisory board. He received the Kurdish Human Rights Watch's "Service to the Kurds Award" in 1998.