(BBC) - The current crisis on the Turkish-Iraqi border comes against the background of a long and complicated relationship between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Several times in the 1990s, Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters fought alongside the Turkish army inside northern Iraq, to try to dislodge militants of the Turkish rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from the rugged and remote border mountains where they were dug in.
But now the signs are that a major Turkish land incursion, if it went beyond the border mountains, would likely collide with Iraqi Kurdish forces, anxious to defend the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan where they have been running their own affairs since the early 1990s.
Tensions between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish region had been rising steadily in the months running up to the current crisis, triggered by PKK attacks which have killed some 40 Turkish troops in recent weeks.
In May, Turkey was angered when the three provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan were handed security control by the US-led multinational forces, and promptly raised the Kurdish flag instead of the Iraqi one.
Turkish sensitivities have been further aggravated by the approach of the deadline for a referendum in the oil-rich Kirkuk province - currently outside Iraqi Kurdistan - on whether it wants to join the three Kurdish-majority provinces currently making up the autonomous Kurdish region.
Under the new Iraqi constitution, the referendum was supposed to be held by the end of this year, but will quietly slide as the necessary preparations, such as a census, have yet to be carried out.
The Turks fear the acquisition of the Kirkuk fields will bolster de facto Iraqi Kurdish independence.
So it is hardly surprising that the massing of Turkish armour and troops on the border is now being seen by Iraqi Kurds as heralding a blow to their autonomy under the cover of an attack on the PKK.
Many believe that two PKK raids, which killed 25 Turkish soldiers and led to the current crisis, were stage-managed by the Turks to provide the pretext for an incursion.
One Iraqi Kurdish leader quoted a PKK source as saying: "We didn't mount raids on them, they attacked us and we just defended ourselves."
"Tanks are useless in the kind of mountainous terrain where the PKK are operating," said one senior Kurdish source.
"And you don't need 100,000 troops to take their positions. What they're clearly planning to do is to stage a major incursion and take control of the major land routes inside Iraqi Kurdistan leading up into the border mountains from the Iraqi side."
Such an invasion would carry a clear risk of collision with the Iraqi Kurdish forces.
Sources in both the major factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, said their troops were preparing for a confrontation, while trying to avoid one.
There is speculation in Kurdish circles that the Turks might also try to bomb or otherwise neutralise the two Iraqi Kurdish airports, at Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, which Ankara asserts have been allowing PKK fighters to move in and out of the area.
The airports are also seen as proud symbols of Iraqi Kurdish autonomy.