Tag Archives: Kurds

Turkish Army Has No Plans To Quit Iraq Now

Turkishjet planes bombed positions of the Kurdish Workers Party in their nation’s continuing effort to wipe out members of the outlawed PKK, Air and ground operations are now in their fourth day and there is no indication they will end within the coming days. Turkey continues insisting “Our target is the PKK terrorist organization, not the Iraqis.” Government spokesperson Celik declined to give a time frame for the return of Turkish military and added, “Our troops will return as soon as the objective of the opertion is achieved.” Government sources claim 112 Kurdish rebels have been killed with loss of 15 soldiers.

The best estimate is the PKK has about 4,000 members and they are embedded in mountainous areas of Kurdistan. If past actions against guerrillas fighting from mountain positions have any validity, the Turkish campaign to wipe out the PKK will not be achieved within a few days or even months. Will Turkish troops remain in Iraq for the indefinite future? How will the government of Iraq react to the presence of forieign troops on its territory? What will be the position of the Bush administration if Turkish troops do not immediately withdraw? Who exactly in the American or Iraq government has explored the answer to these questions?

Another approach of the Turkish government might be focusing on economic development in Kurdish areas of their nation or making greater efforts to incorporate Kurdish leaders within government or working to end social discrimination of Kurds. These are not glamorous options, but they might provide more permanent achievement of how to end the Kurdish rebellion.

Turkish Troops Deep Into Iraq

Turkish troops continued their advance into Iraq in pursuit of members of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) and despite earlier claims the incursion was only proceeding into immediate border areas, the Turkish army has gone much further into Iraq. There are reports of shelling by Turkish units in the Kandil Mountains, a Kurdish stronghold which is located about 100 kilometers inside Iraq. The Kandil Mountains border on Iran which indicates Turkish troops are almost fighting within sight of Iran.

High ranking Turkish military officials claim ‘intelligence we have received suggests the so-called leaders(of the PKK) are in a panic and trying to flee the region by moving rapidly to the south.” This raises the question as to whether Turkish troops will move further into Iraq territory or will they end the incursion at the Kandil Mountains. A reported 79 Kurds and 7 soldiers have been killed.

One can only wonder at the Iranian reaction to military fighting on its borders. Of course, the Iranian government shares the Turkish feeling of hostility towards the PKK.

Turkey Continues Annoying EU Over Its Membership Application

There is increasing evidence the European Union is becoming irritated at failure of the Turkish government to take action on several vital pieces of legislation concerning protection of human rights. Turkey meets with a EU commission every six months to discuss its application for membership and there are repeated requests from the EU for action. AS EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn noted: “We are warning the government against Article 301 which continues to undermine freedom of expression and the Turkish government says it will be changed. The repeated rhetoric has become annoying.” Article 301 makes illegal insulting the Turkish government and that includes claiming there was an Armenian genocide. There are also several other items such as allowing private institutions of higher learning or laws to ensure protection of minority rights which lay dormant in the Turkish parliament.

It is important for world peace that Turkey be admitted into the European Union Hopefully, as the Kurdish issues slips into the background, the Turkish government can focus on pushing through needed legislation if it really wants to enter the European Union.

Prime Minister Erdogan Supports Rights Of Kurds In Turkey

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan expressed disapproval with attempts within his nation to close down the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on grounds it is aiding Kurdish rebels. He called on those who seek to end terrorism to focus on peaceful means rather than display hostility in the world of politics. “The path of democratic struggle using legitimate politicial platforms, not mountains, must be chosen.” the prosecutor’s office has begun proceedings to ban the party, saying it had become a “base for activities which target the independence of the state” and is working with an outlawed terrorist group. The DTP has twenty seats in parliament and rejects any links with the Kurdish Workers Party which is behind terrorist activities. Erdogan said the people of Turkey must respect the “choice of tens of thousands of voters. It reflects a democratic preference. Therefore, we do not choose anti-democratic means.” He pointed out his Justice and Development Party government has spent over $5 billion in areas of Turkey where many Kurds live because economic and social activities offer the best means of defeating terrorists.

The Justice and Development Party reflects the views of conservative Islamic people within Turkey, but it has been reaching out to secular and Kurdish voters in an effort to create Turkish unity rather than engage in divisive attacks upon opponents. President George Bush might well learn something about leadership from Prime Minister Erdogan. The Turkish prime minister respects opposing voices, unfortunately for America, our president does not.

Turkey Moves To Multicultural Approach With Kurds

Throughout the 20th century, Turkish governments repeatedly attempted to suppress the culture and rights of its Kurdish minority. The teaching of Kurdish in schools was restricted and being a Kurd was a detriment in employment or government work. Ironically, the fundamentalist Justice and Development Party led by Prime Minislter Erdogan and President Gul have shifted the government’s position towards one in which Kurdish culture and language are being supported and encouraged. There is even discussion about requiring knowledge of the Kurdish language of civil servants working in mainly Kurdish areas of Turkey. Historically, Turkey used military force to quell separatist militants, but now there has been a shift to political, economic and social factors as a way to win over the Kurdish population. The evidence is clear the new approach is working and fewer and fewer Kurds are urging a separate nation. The Justice and Development Party is now garnering a large sector of the Kurdish vote despite its strong Muslim connections.

Turkey displays to the world a prime example of a Muslim led government that is democratic and able to work with various groups in the quest for peace. It respects both secularism and the rights of minorities.

Iraq President-Inviation Not Sent To Mideast Meeting

President Jalai Talabani of Iraq will not be attending the upcoming regional ministers that began yesterday in Istanbul. “He is not invited, and he is not coming,” said Iraq’s Ambassador to Anakara, Sabah Omran. Talabani did tell Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, that he wanted to attend the meeting and was given a nod indicating he would be invited, but nothing came of the nod. Secretary Rice, permanent members of the Security Council and neighboring countries will be present.

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is caught between opposing forces as he attempts dealing with the Kurdish issue. Nationalist forces within his own country are flouting the banner of violence while he knows war might doom his nation’s entry into the European Union. The ineffectiveness of Iraq’s government to handle any form of insurgency adds to problem of conflict resolution. To mtake maters worse, Kurdistan’s leader, Massoud Barzani talks defiantly one day about not surrendering a single Kurd insurgent and the next day he is pontificating how he wants friendship with Turkey.

Kurds And Turks Battle– In Berlin, That Is!

The simmering conflict between Turkey and Kurdistan erupted not in the mountainous areas of the Turkish-Kurdistan border, but on the streets of Berlin where factions representing each group came to blows. An anti-PKK(Kurdish Workers Party) demonstration degenerated into violence between young Turks and Kurds. By evening, a threatening mass of nationalist Turks had gathered around a Kurdish cultural center. Turkish marchers were waving banners attacking the PKK when they encountered Kurds who expressed their displeasure. “Soon bottles and stones were flying everywhere,” said a policeman resulting in injury to 18 police officers and the arrest of a dozen demonstrators. It appears the conflict on the border of Turkey-Kurdistan is now spilling over to the streets of Europe since thousands of immigrants from those areas are now living in Germany. The police, in particular, blame the “Gray Wolves,” the unofficial arm of what used to be the National Movement Party which was banned in Turkey in the 1960s for their virulent nationalism. Police also noted that as the riot got underway, right wing German nationalist youths entered the fray.

The history of the United States also contains stories of riots between conflicting groups, but one may hypothesize the riots in Berlin go deeper than conflict between groups. They also reflect feelings on the part of many young immigrants from the Middle East that Germany is not their home because of failure to have them integrated within German society.

All Somewhat Quiet On The Turkish Front

A feeling of quiet unease pervades many parts of Turkey as people attempt to sort out the situation. Late Friday evening, Chief of Staff, General Yasar Buyukant said neither the government has instructed the military to undertake a cross border operation into northern Iraq against separatist terrorist hideouts there, nor has the military requested permission to carry out such a mission. He said military leaders will meet with Prime Minister Recep Erdogan on November 5 in order to determine future operations. General Buyukant also noted the Turkish military was extremely disappointed in failure of the Iraq government to demonstrate a willingness to crack down on Kurdish rebels operating within Iraq.

Life goes on in Turkey with the minority Kurdish population uneasy regarding the situation. They are caught in a cross fire between an angry Turkish people anxious for revenge against the killing of their soldiers, and a sense of identify with a Kurdish desire for an independent nation. However, most Turkish Kurds regard themselves as members of the Turkish community and realize war will result in an outbreak of hate against them. In the meantime there is uneasiness but life proceeds at its normal pace.

Turkey Demands Iraq Hand Over Kurd Rebel Leaders

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Cemil Cicek, told a television audience his government was demanding Iraq turn over the top Kurdish rebel leaders. He said a list of 18 prominent Kurdish leaders had been turned over to the Iraq government in hope it would take action. Turkey is expecting cooperation from the United States in quelling the actions of Kurdish rebels, but General Benjamin Mixon, who heads US forces in northern Iraq, said he would do “absolutely nothing” regarding containing or capturing Kurdish rebels. There are no reports of any Iraq officials taking action against the PKK rebels.

There is a stand off for a moment in the Turkish-Kurd conflict. The Turkish government apparently is allowing the United States and the Iraq government to do something about the continued attacks by PKK forces into Turkey. If nothing is done, this allows the Iraq government to claim it has exhausted all opportunities for peaceful resolution of the problem and must now take action. On the flip side, it would be extremely difficult for the Iraq government to pursue and capture Kurdish rebels. The PKK is well armed and they are located in mountainous areas where air power will have scant effect. The Iraq armed forces have enough problems dealing with insurgents and terrorists in Iraq to go chasing Kurds in northern mountains.

One wonders if prior to America’s invasion of Iraq anyone in the Bush administration actually explored problems and issues that would arise if Iraq was defeated. The Turkey-Kurd issue was known to just about every Middle Eastern analyst and everyone of them would have forecast the present problem.

Kurdish Rebels Promise Cease Fire Today

Iraq’s esident, Jalal Talabani assured the world that Kurdish rebels were ready to end fighting in Turkey. “The PKK has decided to declare a ceasefire from their side tonight.” The United States has been urging the Iraq government to exert pressure on Kurdish rebels in order to end their incursions into Turkey. However, the Iraq government believes the problem of security within Iraq rests upon the shoulders of the U.S. military, not Iraq forces. A leading figure in Iraq’s defense ministry, Abdel Qader al-Obeidi, pointed out Iraq’s military was strained to the utmost and there simply were not enough troops available to handle Kurdish rebels in the north. He argued the United States military must take on that role and responsibility. In the meantime, the United States has been urging restraint on Turkey. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Vecdi Gonul of Turkey’s defense ministry, “that lacking actionable intelligence for them to send a large force across the border without any specific targets was likely to lead to a lot of collateral damage.”

One can only wonder where was Robert Gates in 2003 when Bush sent an army into Iraq to find WMD without any specific evidence of their existence, let alone where they were located. The rest of the world is smiling today as President George Bush urges restraint before attacking across borders. It is unfortunate 2007 Bush was not present when 2003 Bush plunged America into the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reason.