Tag Archives: Kurdish rebels

Turkish Army Pounding Rebels-Or Are They?

A Turkish army of 10,000 soldiers backed by jet planes swooping over the area and conducting bombing attacks is moving further into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels. The Turkish General Staff insists the operation is one of short range and its forces “will return home in the shortest time possible after its goals have been achieved.” Prime Minister Erdogan made his first statement and emphasized “the target of the cross-border attack is the terrorist organization, not the Iraqis.” He also noted the United States has been cooperating with the operation by providing important intelligence information. The official Turkish estimate is that its forces have gone about 10 kilometers although CNN claims they are at least 20-25 kilometers into Iraqi territory. CNN showed film of Turkish trucks carrying soldiers moving at a rapid rate to support its assertion.

Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish area of Iraq, visited the site where Turkish troops are now fighting, but refused to do anything like ordering Kurdish peshmerge forces to respond to the invasion. Apparently, the Kurdish government will watch and ponder hoping Turk troops will quickly return.

The invasion of Iraq– that is what is happening– came during a relatively quiet time on the Turkish-Kurdistan border region. There have not been any recent examples of Kurd rebels attacking Turkish troops. Erdogan’s government continues insisting there are short-term goals to be achieved. What if the goals are not achieved? What if Turkish forces find themselves confronted by guerrlla forces which will not come out and fight, but prefer clandestine operations? Will Turkish soldiers remain? In the meantime, has anyone asked permission of the Iraq government for such warlike actions on its territory?

Kurdish Rebels Switch From Mountains To Cities

The Kurdistan Workers Party rebellion against Turkey is witnessing a switch in tactics from fighting in the mountains of Iraq to instigating terrorist attacks in Turkish cities. The Kurdish rebels apparently are reeling from massive military attacks on their positions and reconstituting the nature of their rebellion by seeking more favorable targets in urban areas. Last week’s bombing in the province of Diyarbakir and to torching of cars in several cities including Ankara is an indication that their rebellion is assuming a new approach. According to retired General Rulogu, the Kurds have decided it is too dangerous continuing fighting in the mountains and have decided to launch “attacks in big cities in order to prove that it still has the capacity and power to challenge Turkey…They want to create panic” in the cities of Turkey.

There have been numerous reports that Kurdish rebels want an unconditional pardon for past actions from Turkey, but the government, as of this point, is only willing to pardon those who did not fight against the Turkish army. If rebels are willing to end fighting, it pays to grant pardons to all who participated. The choice is peace or continued violence. Why would those who have engaged in terrorism surrender if they know that means death or imprisonment?

US Military Furious At Turkish Air Attacks In Iraq

During the past few days, Turkish air planes have bombed villages and supposed military bases of Kurdish rebels in the mountains of Iraq. Inhabitants of the villages claim there were no Kurdish rebels and those killed and wounded were simply ordinary civilians. Not only villagers are furious at the Turkish attack, but so is the United States military. US commanders were not informed by Turkey there would be air attacks until the planes were already inside Iraq. The United States had made an agreement with Turkey that US intelligence would provide information about the location of Kurdish rebels, but these sources were not consulted in these air strikes. The Iraq government, which supports efforts to curb Kurdish rebels, is also upset at being kept ignorant about attacks on its own territory.

A major concern of US military officials is the importance of coordinating intelligence in order to ensure attacks are made on Kurdish rebels, not innocent civilians. The Turkish military claimed they lacked time to inform their allies in the fight against Kurdish rebels because they were engaged in hot pursuit of the enemy. Continued attacks which wind up killing civilians will only strengthen Kurdish rebels and gain them new recruits. It is difficult being able to cite a single example of how air power has eliminated guerrilla forces on the ground.

Turkish Planes Blast Kurd Rebels In Iraq

Turkish planes carried out the first air attacks on Kurdish rebels based in the mountainous regions of Iraq. After the bombing, Turkish artillery opened fire on the area which had just been bombed. According to local Iraq officials, about ten villages were bombed and several civilians killed or wounded. They claim Kurdish rebels were miles away from the target. Turkish planes also dropped leaflets urging members of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) to surrender and seek an amnesty. An amnesty law was adopted in 2003 under Article 221 of the penal code which promises no punishment to Kurds who surrender provided they did not take part in military action against Turkish forces. An intelligence officer told the Turkish newspaper, Zaman, that among those who surrendered about one-third were Kurds who simply hoped they could get a better job by pretending to fit the qualification for amnesty.

Bombing villages in mountainous areas rarely leads to anything other than fostering hatred among innocent civilians. This policy has never worked and certainly has proved ineffective in Afghanistan. The concept of an amnesty makes sense, but it must include those who did take part in military action. To only grant amnesty to people who were not involved in armed attacks will not result in encouraging militants to surrender. There also has to be an active program of providing jobs and other benefits if Turkey is to get those in the mountains to come down and become active participants in ordinary life.

Kurdish Rebels Evacuating Northern Iraq Bases

There are reports that Kurdish rebels belonging to the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) are withdrawing from bases in northern Iraq and returning to their homes in Turkey. The movement is in response to pressure from Iraq, the Kurdish government in Kurdistan, and the United States. They are being replaced by anti-Iranian Kurds who belong to the Free Lie Iranian Kurdish Party (PEJAK). Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey has announced his nation’s army is authorized to make a cross border invasion if the situation requires and that the military is now working in close cooperation with American intelligence agents.

The shift from bases in northern Iraq back to homes in Turkey undoubtedly is the result of enormous pressure that was exerted on the Kurdish rebels. However, it is interesting they are being replaced by anti-Iranian Kurds whose goal is the overthrow of the Iranian government. One can only wonder if the United States will be exerting pressure on the PEJAK to cease military operations across the border into Iran. To Iranians, the failure to take action to halt the PEJAK is simply another example of American hypocrisy. the United States could reach out to Iran by promising to crack down on these Kurdish dissidents, but it is doubtful if such a policy would meet the needs of the Bush administration which is bound on pushing an hysterical anti-Iranian agenda.

Bush Sells Turkey On “Surgical Strike” Strategy

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey concluded his Washington visit with President Bush pleased with the cooperation he received from the United States. The two nations agreed to share “actionable intelligence ” ideas that would assist Turkey in any military operation it began against Kurdish rebels operating out of northern Iraq areas. Bush affirmed his opposition to the actions of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) and pledged cooperation with his NATO ally. The leaders agreed on “limited surgical operations” which means American military intelligence will assist their Turkish counterparts in identifying areas serving as bases for the PKK and allowing Turkish planes to bomb. Some critics in Turkey believe Bush is attempting to divert a land invasion by supporting air attacks on Kurdish bases.

There are fundamental flaws in the Erdogan/Bush agreement. PKK rebels are hiding in mountains which makes it extremely difficult for air attacks to have much effect. Bush continues believing in air attcks against guerrilla forces although most military experts doubt that is an effective strategy. Ironically, the Erdogan government has probably taken more positive action to assist its Kurdish population secure political right and to improve living conditions than any prior Turkish government. This is a problem for the Kurdish government to handle, not the Turkish government. Rebels are operating from Kurdistan and therefore its government has to become more pro-active in dealing with this internal situation.

Turkey Disappointed With Iraq Proposals

The delegation of Iraq officials who have been working with the Turkish government apparently have failed to win over support for their ideas on dealing with Kurdish rebels. A Turkish diplomat, who is familiar with the discussions, said their proposals were “unsatisfactory.” The Turkish parliament last week authorized a cross-border operation against PKK bases. The Turkish government is insisting Iraq turn over to them the Kurdish leaders leading the insurgency and have provided Iraq with a list of the names. According to a Turkish official, “these talks are make-or-break talks. This is the last chance to resolve the issue through talks before resorting to a possible cross-border operation.” The Iraqi delegation claims it arrived with concrete proposals.

A member of the Turkish military said troops are being moved from other areas of the country toward the Iraq border. There is a feeling of frustration among Turkish officials, particularly after the main American general in northern Iraq said he would do “absolutely nothing” about dealing with Kurdish rebels. A fundamental problem is the inability of Iraq officials to actually do anything in Kurdistan. It lacks troops to handle any military operation against well entrenched Kurdish forces in the mountainous region of the country. Apparently, neither Kurdish officials, Iraqi officials or the American military is going to do anything to counter PKK attacks. As of this point, the Turkish government has hesitated in making a military incursion, will they wait longer before doing so?

Turkey Plans Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

Turkey’s National Security Council is recommending applying economic sanctions against northern Iraq in an effort to apply pressure on groups aiding the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party. Many observers warn such action might turn out to have the opposite effect. According to Turkish political analyst Ilter Turan, “any sanctions could b ring about unexpected results; they could boost support for Iraq’s Kurdish leader, Massad Barzani, and push the masses in northern Iraq to congregate around him. Barzani has a reputation of turning a blind eye to activities of Kurdish rebels who are attacking into Turkey. There is talk in Turkey of cutting off electricity and food supplies to northern Iraq which relies extensively upon those sources for many daily needs.

Turkey apparently still hasn’t learned from the failed sanction approach of George Bush that those type of solutions wind up causing more anguish than benefits. Cuba has been subjected to sanctions for half a century and continues existing. Now is the time for Turkey to reach out to its Kurdish population with economic and political assistance. If Turkey demonstrates that Kurds in its nation are achieving high economic gains and are participating in Turkish political life there will be less interest in activities of groups fostering violence. Turkey should stand back and allow the international community to apply pressure on Iraq to halt violence in its territory.

Defense Sectretary Gates Wants More Information On Kurd Rebels

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged restraint on any military actions such as bombing Kurdish rebels until further information was obtained about where they were located in Kurdistan. Turkish planes and helicopters reportedly attacked Kurdish positions in Iraq yesterday. “Without good intelligence, just sending large numbers of troops across the border (from Turkey) or dropping bombs doesn’t seem to make sense to me.” Chief of Staff Michael Mullen questioned the desirability of US air strikes against Kurdish rebels because they were located in mountainous areas of Kurdistan. A senior defense official indicated growing concern among top level Bush officials regarding failure on the part of the Iraq government to curtail Kurdish rebels attacks on Turkey. Yesterday, Secretary of State Rice told Congress Turkish retaliatory attacks would have a “destabilizing effect” on the situation.

The comments of Rice about attacking across borders to curtail terrorists are ironic, to say the least, coming from a member of the Bush administration. Everything now being said by Rice and Bush applies to their erroneous response to supposed terrorism by Saddam Hussein. Actually, they never had any evidence of such actions by Saddam, but ordered an invasion of Iraq. Where were the voices of restraint in the Bush administration in 2003? Condi Rice was present, did she urge caution on President Bush?

Turkish Military Urges Calm In Rebel Crisis

During the past several days thousands have marched in the streets of Turkey’s major cities waving banners urging war against Kurdish rebels even if it means invading Iraq. Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit asked the Turkish people to show restraint during the crisis because to do so would allow terrorists determining the actions of the Turkish government. He appreciated cries of “Take us into the army” but did not wish a rush to violent judgement. However, journalists were upset at a ban imposed on TV channels by the Minister of Defense, Cemil Cicek which denied TV commentators the right to discuss any reports that “affect the public order, morale, and psychology of the people negatively and create a weak image of the Turkish security forces.” The ban did not apply to newspapers.

It is rather ironic for Americans to observe the head of an armed force asking calm from the population during terrorist attacks. In 2003, no American military leader stepped forth with words of calm and restraint, they allowed themselves to be bullied by Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, into marching into Iraq with flags flying. What would have happened if Chief of Staff Shinseki had been allowed to tell Congress of his concerns regarding the planned invasion?