Archive for the ‘PKK’ Category

Turkey presses offensive in Iraq, US urges short campaign

February 24, 2008
CIZRE, Turkey (AFP) – Fighting intensified Sunday between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, amid US calls for Turkey to wrap up its military incursion in the region as swiftly as possible.

A US soldier loads ammunitions to a machine gun at the US army's ... 

(AFP/Kim Jae-Hwan)
Explosions and gunfire were reported in and around Hakurk, a stronghold of the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Turkish border.More than a dozen Turkish warplanes could be seen heading for the area.

The PKK said Sunday it had shot down a Turkish attack helicopter, but there was no independent confirmation.

Turkish troops, backed by air support, moved into northern Iraq on Thursday evening in the largest cross-border offensive in years against PKK hideouts.

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Turkey-Iraq Border Tensions, Fighting Continue

December 23, 2007
A Turkish soldier patrols in an army vehicle on a road near ... 

A Turkish soldier patrols in an army vehicle on a road near Yuksekova in southeastern Turkey, bordering Iraq, December 22, 2007.Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish guerrilla targets in northern Iraq on Saturday, the General Staff said, in Turkey’s latest cross-border offensive. The military said in a statement posted on its webpage that the offensive against outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas inside Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq would continue. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
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ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Sunday, a spokesman for security forces in the Kurdish-run region said.

The spokesman, Jabar Yawar, said the jets bombed an area about 50 miles north of Irbil near the border with Turkey for about an hour and a half. He said there were no civilian casualties because the area was deserted due to a fear of Turkish attacks.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071223/ap_on_re_mi_ea/turkey_iraq_kurds;_
ylt=AqAPvpiq4v2hDMGwRGC6xMSs0NUE

Rice: Kurdish rebels are ‘common threat’

November 2, 2007

By ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writers

ANKARA, Turkey – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Turkish officials Friday that Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq were a “common threat” and that the United States would help Ankara in its fight against them.

Speaking after meeting with both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Rice said she had emphasized that the United States is “committed to redoubling its efforts” to help Turkey in its struggle against the rebel fighters.

“We consider this a common threat, not just to the interests of Turkey but to the interests of the United States as well,” she said at a joint news conference with Babacan….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071102/ap_on_re_us/rice;_ylt=
AmsCtEsdUHFFgswfGNVOME.s0NUE

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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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071022/ap_on_go_ca_
st_pe/us_turkey;_ylt=AgyMgtkKZDbzRKSZeeCr
GDOs0NUE

The path to a better Middle East goes through Ankara

October 22, 2007

What Ms. Pelosi seems to have missed….

The Wall Street Journal
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Some day, we may look back on this week as a turning point in America’s relations with its closest Muslim ally, Turkey, and perhaps for the entire Middle East. Unfortunately, only a seer can say whether it’ll be a turn for the better.

The ructions over the House’s foray into Ottoman history and Turkey’s threat to invade northern Iraq don’t look good. But clear-eyed leaders will spot an opportunity in this crisis to renew an alliance for this difficult new era. American and Turkish interests overlap, and the countries need each other as much as they did during the Cold War.

The more sober politicians in Washington and Ankara understand this. Wednesday’s parliamentary approval of a possible Turkish incursion to chase down Kurdish terrorists in their Iraqi hideouts was remarkable for its restraint. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waited more than a week after the latest strike by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (or PKK) killed 13 Turkish soldiers to bring up the measure. No democratic government could ignore such attacks and the growing public outrage.

The Turks have also ruled out any rash move into northern Iraq. Ankara would prefer that the Iraqi Kurds and U.S. squeeze the PKK hiding in the Qandil mountains and avoid the risks of launching its own incursion. The vote this week is a wake-up call from the Turks–not least to the Iraqi Kurds, who have an opening to improve ties with their most important neighbor.

Meanwhile, with uncanny timing, Congressional Democrats this week were about to stick a finger in Turkey’s eye. Whether the massacres of up to 1.5 million Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 constitute “genocide,” as a nonbinding House resolution declares, is a matter for historians. In the here and now, the resolution would erode America’s influence with Ankara and endanger the U.S. effort in Iraq. Worse, Mr. Erdogan’s ability to work with Washington would be constrained by an anti-American backlash.Speaker Nancy Pelosi began the week promising to bring the resolution to the House floor. But she is now having second thoughts–if not out of good sense, then because her rank-and-file are peeling away as they are lobbied against the anti-Turk resolution by the likes of General David Petraeus. Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert tabled a similar resolution when asked by President Clinton in 2000, and we’ll soon see if Ms. Pelosi will do the same for a Republican President.

The PKK also reads the papers, and its leaders timed their attacks on consecutive weekends this month as the resolution moved through the House. The Marxist separatist group, whose 20-year war has claimed almost 40,000 lives, would love to divide the U.S. from Turkey. Unless managed right, the Turkish response this week also imperils improving bilateral ties between Ankara and Baghdad; the countries had only recently signed a counterterrorism pact. In Turkey itself, PKK support is dwindling, and Mr. Erdogan’s ruling party swept the Kurdish-majority areas in July’s elections.

To avoid the trap set by the PKK, the U.S. needs to press the Iraqi Kurds to act against them. This doesn’t have to hurt America’s friendly dealings with the Kurds. But someone has to remind Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdish region, that the PKK poses a grave threat to the economic boom and stability of northern Iraq. His aggressive rhetoric toward Turkey, and the Kurdish peshmerga militia’s disinterest in cracking down on the PKK, gives the wrong impression of complicity with the terrorists. With typical bluster, Mr. Barzani yesterday said he’d fight the Turks–hardly helpful.

Short of declaring war on the PKK, the peshmerga could easily cut off supply lines of food and arms into the Qandil mountains. The Turks want the U.S. to nab a few big PKK fish, which is easier said than done. But Ankara isn’t unreasonable to expect to see more of an effort. In return, its troops can stay on their side of the border.

This hasn’t been an easy year for Turkey. For most of it, Mr. Erdogan and his neo-Islamist party fought a cold war with the country’s secular establishment, led by the military. His commanding election victory in July ended that political crisis, only to see Congress and the PKK distract anew from his primary task, which is building the Muslim world’s most vibrant free-market democracy.Turkey wants a unitary, stable and prosperous Iraq, and should know that any wrong moves in the north could jeopardize that. The Turks unabashedly support Israel’s right to exist and can’t abide a nuclear Iran. On these and other issues, Ankara is an indispensable partner for America. Mr. Erdogan is expected to meet President Bush next month to discuss Iraqi Kurdistan and probably the Armenian resolution. The U.S.-Turkey friendship is too important to let it be ruined by parochial politics in either country.

Related:

Pandering Pelosi-crats

Iraq and Turkey See Tensions Rise After Ambush

Pelosi: Our Candidate for “Catch and Release”

Iraq and Turkey See Tensions Rise After Ambush

October 22, 2007

ISTANBUL, Oct. 21 — A brazen ambush by Kurdish militants that left at least 12 Turkish soldiers dead touched off a major escalation in Turkey-Iraq tensions on Sunday, bringing fears that Turkey would retaliate immediately by sending troops across the border into Iraq. But Turkey’s prime minister said he delayed a decision, after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally intervened.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/world/europe/22turkey.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
(Includes map of the Kurdish Region)

Related:
Turkish troops, weapons head toward Iraq

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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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071017/ap_on_re_mi_ea/turkey;_ylt=
Aiu6_lNJuH07pTDYvqbByKKs0NUE

Pelosi: Our Candidate for “Catch and Release”

October 17, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 17, 2007

“Catch and release” refers to the popular fishing practice of releasing the hooked fish so that he can live and participate in that great sport another day. It has also been applied to our overcrowded prison system. Often judges release prisoners convicted of misdemeanors and minor crimes, sentencing them to something other than prison time like community service.

If only we had “Catch and release” for politicians. We often elect people to high office that turn out to be, let us say, releasable.

We’d nominate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for Catch and Release.

Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

Ms. Pelosi has put her own self and the interest of her small congressional constituency ahead of the national interest.

Last spring, Ms. Pelosi embarked upon what she called a “peace mission” to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories. She was widely criticized for overstepping her authority as Speaker of the House and meddling in the job of the Secretary of State.

These past few weeks, Ms. Pelosi has championed an idea floated by her Armenian-American constituents to brand Turkey as a nation that fosters “genocide.” Sounds harmless enough. But the atrocities some call genocide started in 1915 and were committed by the now defunct Ottoman Empire.

Turkey took umbrage.

In fact, Turkey, though which some seventy percent of U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan war logistics flow, told its Ambassador in Washington DC to come home for “consultations.” Then Turkey threatened to stop support for the U.S. in the war. Now the Turkish parliament will apparently vote to invade Iraq to wipe out the troublesome Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned Turkey that any incursion into Iraq would be unwelcome and “destabilizing.”

Ms. Pelosi, to satisfy a small local constituency, has muddled international relations on a grand scale.

If only we had catch and release for politicians.

Related:
Pelosi: Stumbling On Armenia

Pandering Pelosi-crats

Turkey to approve troops to Iraq in defiance of U.S.

October 16, 2007

By Gareth Jones

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey will defy international pressure on Wednesday and grant its troops permission to enter northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels based there, though it has played down expectations of any imminent attack.

 

Washington, Ankara‘s NATO ally, says it understands Turkey’s desire to tackle rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but fears a major incursion would wreck stability in the most peaceful part of Iraq and potentially in the wider region.

Turkey’s stance has helped drive global oil prices to $88 a barrel, a new record, and has hit its lira currency as investors weigh the economic risks of any major military operation.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071016/wl_nm/turkey_
iraq_dc;_ylt=Ar.kdVwGKsFObLiopEDrU1es0NUE