Archive for the ‘incursion’ Category

Tribal Areas, Pakistan: U.S. Considers Covert Incursion

January 6, 2008

By Steven Lee Myers, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt
The New York Times
January 6, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Mr. Musharraf and Pakistan’s….

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U.S. Angered, Concerned Over Turkish Attack in Iraq

December 19, 2007

Associated Press

U.S. military commanders in Iraq didn’t know Turkey was sending warplanes into northern Iraq until the planes had already crossed the border, The Associated Press has learned.

A Turkish soldier


Above: A soldier from Turkey sits atop an armored vehicle as it makes its way from Turkey into Iraq.  Turkey has vowed to end the violence it says is caused by Kurdish insurgents on its southers border with Iraq.
Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, and a “coordination center” has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, two officials said Tuesday.

But commanders and diplomats in Baghdad were angered when they were told of Sunday’s attack after it was already under way, defense and diplomatic officials said in Washington and Baghdad.

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Turkish PM says N.Iraq offensive planned

November 6, 2007

By Selcuk Gokoluk and Evren Mesci

ANKARA (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said the Turkish army will go ahead with an operation against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq, but Baghdad said on Tuesday the threat of a major incursion appeared to have diminished.

Erdogan held talks with President George W. Bush on Monday to push Washington to crack down on some 3,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists using northern Iraq as a base for attacks in Turkey.

Bush said after their meeting that he was committed to countering the PKK, which he called their “common enemy” and offered to share intelligence with Turkey, a NATO ally.

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Turkish incursion on hold for US visit

October 26, 2007

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press 

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey will wait until the prime minister visits Washington in November before deciding on a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq, the country’s top military commander said Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President Bush in Washington on Nov. 5. “The armed forces will carry out a cross-border offensive when assigned,” private NTV quoted Gen. Yasar Buyukanit as saying. “Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to the United States is very important, we will wait for his return.”

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said the government demanded the extradition of Kurdish rebel leaders based in Iraq’s north. Amid talks with a visiting Iraqi delegation, Turkish war planes and helicopters reportedly bombed separatist hideouts within the country’s borders.

Despite repeated Turkish demands ….

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Turkey’s identity crisis

October 23, 2007

By Ralph Peters
USA Today
October 23, 2007 

The eastern quarter of Turkey isn’t Turkish. It’s inhabited by Kurds, the descendents of tribesmen whom the Greek soldier and author Xenophon encountered in those mountains 2,500 years ago — more than a thousand years before the first Turk arrived.

If a referendum on independence were held today, Turkey’s Kurds, who make up about 20% of its 73 million people, would vote overwhelmingly to secede from the shrunken empire Ankara inherited from the Ottomans. That’s part of what Turkish saber-rattling on the border with northern Iraq is about — the fear that even an autonomous Kurdistan-in-Iraq threatens Turkey’s territorial integrity because the region’s Kurds might view it as the core of a Kurdish state.

For its part, Washington fears a Turkish-Kurdish conflict that would further destabilize the entire region — just when Iraq shows glimmers of hope.

No regional government ruling over a Kurdish minority has ever allowed an honest head count, but estimates give the Kurds a population of 27 million to 36 million, spread across portions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Caucasus. Up to 14 million of these people without a state reside in Turkey.

In addition to its determination to preserve its eastern frontier, Turkey faces internal political challenges that propel the huge Turkish military — with more than 500,000 active-duty troops — toward an intervention in northern Iraq.

The immediate justification for a parliament-authorized move across the border is Turkey’s allegation that the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a Marxist organization that has employed terror, continues to attack soldiers and civilians inside Turkey. The remnants of the defeated PKK, a few thousand men and their families, have taken refuge in Iraq. Turkey claims it wants them handed over — knowing such a course is politically impossible for any Kurdish leader.

PKK a weak threat

Ankara’s allegations suffer under scrutiny. One need have no sympathy for the PKK to recognize that the organization has been shattered by Turkey’s anti-terror campaign. Its aging members encamped in Iraq have begged asylum from their fellow Kurds (who find them an embarrassment). With pressure from all sides for Iraq’s Kurdish officials to “do something” about the rump PKK, the last thing most of its members intend is to give the Turks an excuse to cross the border.

Why attack now?

Because Turkey’s generals are desperate to revitalize their image at home. Humiliated by the repeated electoral successes of Turkey’s Islamist party the AKP, the army, which views itself as the defender of the secular state, has seen its stock decline in the political marketplace.

In the past, the Turkish military would have staged a coup. That remains a longer-term possibility, but there’s now a sense that popular support for military rule would not be as strong as in the past, when Turkey’s economy was moribund and terrorism haunted the streets of Istanbul. The military has been a victim of Turkey’s success.

The generals view a foray into Iraq as a double win — a body blow to Kurdish aspirations and a chance to rally Turks around the flag. Though an invasion would anger the United States, Ankara feels it has Washington over a barrel, given the United States’ need for access to Incirlik Air Base and the criticality of Turkish supply routes and airspace to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As for Europe’s reaction, the Turks believe it would amount to no more than a few white papers filed away in Brussels.

Over the years, I’ve personally found Turkish generals and diplomats irrational on two subjects: The Armenian genocide (as we saw again in the recent fuss about the House resolution) and the rights of Kurds anywhere to enjoy independence. These topics invariably ignite fiery lectures from Turkish officialdom: The mouths are open, but the ears are shut.

Turks face embarrassment

Yet, a potential problem that the Turkish military does not appear to have grasped is that a move into northern Iraq might not go as smoothly as the generals intend. Well-armed and determined, Iraq’s Kurds would resist any major invasion, and the mountainous region is ideal for defensive fighting. For all the on-paper strength of the Turkish military, it could suffer a significant embarrassment in Iraq.

A military disappointment — it needn’t be a debacle — in Iraqi Kurdistan would profoundly alter Turkey’s internal balance of power. The army has thrived on the perception of its invincibility.

A botched cross-border move would damage its all important image, further empowering the political Islamists, who’ve already subverted many of the laws and values the military inherited from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (the father of modern Turkey).

Success would fail

On the other hand, should a Turkish military operation succeed, it could excite a land-grab mentality that could draw in Iran, further destabilizing the region. And a Turkish attack on Iraqi Kurdistan — a remarkably successful experiment in self-government — would incite waves of anti-Turkish terrorism, rather than reduce the terrorist threat.

For their parts, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders seek to build good relations with Ankara, by policing the PKK and granting concessionary terms to Turkish businessmen in the hope that shared profits will reveal shared interests. Nobody — not the PKK, other Kurds, the Iraqi government or the United States — wants to see a Turkish military adventure.

In the end, such an invasion wouldn’t really be about the future of the PKK — which has none — but the future of Turkey. Ankara’s military, pledged to defend the state that Ataturk built from the Ottoman ruins, could thoughtlessly hasten its deterioration and decline.

Ralph Peters is a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors and the author of the recent book Wars of “Blood and Faith.”

US tries to stop Turk incursion in Iraq

October 23, 2007

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press 

WASHINGTON – The United States has opened a “diplomatic full court press” to keep Turkey from invading northern Iraq, an incursion that could further destabilize Iraq and the region.

President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials implored Turkish and Iraqi leaders to work together to counter the threat from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), U.S. officials said Monday as Turkish troops headed toward the border and tensions soared.

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Turkish troops, weapons head toward Iraq

October 22, 2007

By VOLKAN SARISAKAL, Associated Press Writer

SIRNAK, Turkey – Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled toward the Iraq border on Monday after an ambush by rebel Kurds that killed 12 soldiers and left eight missing.

The guerrilla ambush on Sunday outraged an already frustrated public. Demonstrations erupted across the country and opposition leaders called for an immediate strike against rebel bases in Iraq, despite appeals for restraint from Iraq, the U.S. and European leaders.

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Iraq and Turkey See Tensions Rise After Ambush

Turkish Parliament Approves Iraq Mission; Wider War?

October 17, 2007

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey – Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a possible cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, although the government appears willing to give diplomatic pressure on the U.S.-backed Iraqi administration more time to work.

Lawmakers voted 507-19 in favor of empowering the government to order the military to cross into Iraq during a one-year period, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said. They then burst into applause.

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