Tag Archives: PKK

Turkish Offense Continues In Iraq

On the third day of the Turkish military operation in Iraq to crush the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, fighting intensified between both parties. An estimated 113 terrorists and fifteen soldiers have died as troops battled in northern Iraq. The Turkish military warned the local populace not to provide assistance to Kurdish rebels. “What we expect from the local groups is not to protect the terrorists escaping to the sourthern parts of Iraq.” Air raids continue even as ground forces are attempting to crush the Kurdish rebels. Prime Minister Erdogan emphasized to Iraqis there was no intention of trying to take over their land and the object was Kurdish camps.

Ncchirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq lowered his rhetoric and acknowledged Turkey had a right to defend itself against rebel attacks. However, he expressed concern “that the infrastructure of the region ws targeted.” Barzaini called on President Bush to assist efforts to restore peace to the region. The Iraq government also agreed Turkey had a right of self defense, but also was worried the attack might result in further destabilization of a destablized society.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded Turkey cease its invasion of Iraq terriroty and withdraw. The unknown factor in this invasion equation is how militant Shiites will react to an invasion of their nation. What will be Turkey’s reaction if large numbers of the PKK escape to southern Iraq– will they be pursued?

Kurdish Rebels Ready To End Insurgency-Amnesty Is Issue

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani claimed members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) were prepared to lay down their arms if the Turkish government promised a pardon and the right to return home to Turkey. As of this point, the Turkish government has only indicated a willingness to grant pardons to anyone who can prove he was not involved in violent actions against civilians or the Turkish military. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey told members of Parliament there were no plans on the part of his administration to grant pardons to Kurds who engaged in military action. President Talabani, who is a Kurd, noted, “the PKK says it will lay down arms if amnesty ensures that PKK members will return home safely. They say they are ready to hand over their guns to the US forces and even to the Iraqis provided that there is such an amnesty.” Talabani emphasized the alternative to an amnesty was continued fighting in mountainous areas. His support for amnesty diverted from the view of Massoud Barzani, leader of Kurdistan who is infuriated at Turkish air assaults on his territory and regarded them as an act of war which is killing innocent civilians.

At some point, the Turkish government has to confront a choice that many others have faced in attempting to end civil conflict– grant an amnesty and use the new opportunity to end issues that created the conflict. The British government in North Ireland worked with former terrorists to achieve peace. Prime Minister Erdogan has to grant amnesty and work with returned Kurdish rebels to provide work and education opportunities.

Turkish Military Crosses Border Into Iraq

The Turkish army crossed the border into northern Iraq in order to deal with members of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) which is conducting guerrilla warfare against its nation. This Turkish force claimed to be operating based on “military intelligence provided,” but it is unclear whether or not that information was furnished by the United States armed forces. Prime Minister Erdogan extracted from President Bush a pledge in November that America would furnish Turkey military intelligence related to the activities of the PKK. The Turkish government made clear it was only directing its action against those who commit “an act of enmity against the Turkish armed forces,” and promised there would be further operations in the area. However, Massoud Barzani, head of Kurdistan claims that no foreign troops entered his nation and denied action by the PKK towards the Turks.

We can expect in the coming months to witness clandestine Turkish operations into Iraq that everyone claims never happened. In this way, the Turkish military can deal with the PKK while the world pretends it is not doing any such thing. In this way, peace can reign.

Did US Military Aid Kurdish Insurgents?

A former member of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) told Turkish authorities he had been at insurgent camps where American military personnel visited and discussed topics with senior commanders. He had been a truck driver in Iraq who was captured by the Iraqis and turned over to Turkey. He claimed to see high ranking US military officers in the camp, “they (US officers) used to come and go in a regular basis. However, only senior members were admitted to the meetings so I don’t know about details.” A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Athens termed his remarks as “ridiculous” and claimed there was absolutely no evidence such meetings had ever taken place.

The testimony of a truck driver undoubtedly can not be taken at face value, but there are several unanswered question which still haven’t been cleared up by the American government. Turkish soldiers captured PKK insurgents who were carrying American made weapons which most probably originally were sent to Iraq. It is possible Iraqis could have stolen and sold the weapons to the PKK. The PKK is part of a widespread Kurdish rebellion and a portion of that group is engaged in military activities against Iran. There have been rumors CIA agents were assisting the Kurdish group fighting against Iran. At this point, one can not definitely conclude there has been collusion between American agents and the PKK, but the issue still has yet to be resolved.

Tukish Gun Ships Blast Kurdish Sites

Tension on the Turkish-Iran border remained tense as Turkish helicopters blasted away at abandoned villages and former camps of the rebel Kurdish Workers Party(PKK). President Talibani of Iraq insisted that his nation is “against all violent operations against Turkey.” He also indicated his government would take a much harder line against the PKK and try to get them to leave Iraq.

The good news is that Turkish military forces are attacking abandoned villages and former bases. In this way, no one gets killed and there is no further escalation of tension. Since the eight Turkish soldiers who were captured are now in prison for neglect of duty, this new campaign to bomb empty villages will avoid the problem of casualties or prisoners and thus protect Turkish soldiers from winding up in prison.

Turkish Soldiers Freed In Kurdistan

In a bid to demonstrate cooperation with nations attending the International Conference in Ankara, the outlawed Kurdish group, the PKK, announced today there were freeing the eight Turkish soldiers who had been captured and held hostage. “At 7:30 a.m., the eight Turkish prisoners were delivered to a delegation from the Kurdish region, which also included members of the Democratic Security Party,” said PKK spokesperson Abdul Chudahi. Th freeing of the prisoners came as Iraq began to crack down on Kurdish groups which have been assisting the PKK in its militancy against Turkey.

It is ironic that American Secretary of State Rice played a role in working with regional nations, including Iran, in this effort to ease tensions as 100,000 Turkish troops were massed on the border of Kurdistan. Instead of the normal Bush rhetoric about evil doers, Rice worked with evil doers in in order to lessen tension and achieve a compromise solution. There were no demands for “preconditions” which is so typical of President Bush before he will even talk with groups he considers to be enemies, but all parties plunged into the task of negotiation and compromise. Is this a formula to use in Afghanistan or Iraq or for Israel in its conflict with Palestinians?

Kurdistan Leader Defiant And Seeks Compromise

Iraqi Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani issued a defiant rejection of Turkish demands to end terrorism while also indicating he was ready to negotiate for peace. On one hand, he said about Turkey, “You do not speak to me, then you ask me to do things against the PKK. How can this be?” Within a few moments he also said: “I am a friend of the Turkish nation, not an enemy. Let’s cooperate and open the door for a peaceful solution to the problem..” Barzani heads the Kurdish part of Iraq which, for all practical purposes, is now functioning as a semi-independent area. Barzani most probably harbors concerns that have little to do with the PKK.
Why is Turkey’s hostility toward Iraqi Kurdistan? Is it because we are the real problem in Ankara’s eyes and not the PKK? We want assurances from ‘Turkey that all these military measures are not against us.” In another flip around, he told the PKK to “give up violence or confront not only Turkey but the whole Kurdish nation.”

Barazni fears Turkey seeks to crush all Kurdish armed forces that might pose a threat to their own security. There is concern in Turkey that creation of an independent Kurdish nation serves as a beacon to Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran to also become part of that nation. The American invasion of Iraq caused Kurdistan to emerge as a semi-independent nation and we are now living with the consequences of Bush’s actions.

Iraq Warns Turkey About Invading Their Nation

In an interview on BBC, Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, said his nation would not accept a major Turkish invasion of its territory. He noted about 100,000 Turkish troops are massed on the border backed by planes and tanks and prepared to invade Iraq. He admitted the situation was serious, and was upset because the Turkish government had shown no concern about working with the Iraqi government to reduce tension. Zebari warned of “serious consequences” of a Turkish incursion onto the soil of Iraq. “That’s why the whole government of Iraq and the whole people of Iraq are united really not to see their sovereignty, their territorial integrity undermined by a friendly neighboring country.”

One can only wonder if there is underlying fear on the part of Iraq that Turkey might use the excuse of terrorist attacks by the PKK as an excuse to gain control of large areas of Kurdistan, a nation whose existence offers hope to Kurds in the region for having their own united nation. The Kurdish government has been casting eyes on oil in the Mosul region of Iraq, something that might also be of interest to the Turkish government. This entire situation could and should have been forseen by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld group when they launched the ill fated invasion of Iraq. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Based on Zebari’s comments that the threatened Turkish invasion has united all factions in Iraq, perhaps, the solution to violence in his country is finding a common enemy that will bring people together. The question is which enemy would unite Iraq and which would not result in extensive violence?

Iraq Leader Defiant-We Will Not Turn Over Kurds!

Iraq Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani defiantly told the world he would not give in to Turkish or American pressure about surrendering leaders of the Kurdish Workers Party. “I will not hand over any person in any regional state no matter what the cost. However, in truth, I will not allow any PKK official to use the Kurdistan region as a base or to be present here and threaten the security of Turkey.” Barzani said he was ready to defend his nation against any action by an outside power, including the United States. His statement came after talks in Ankara ended in a deadlock where Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said, “some of the proposals put forth by the Iraqi delegation were far from meeting our expectations while some were to provide results in the long run. …However, we expect the Iraqis to take immediate action.”

The winds of war grow stronger with each passing rhetorical outburst from the parties involved. The Kurds and Turks are walking gingerly down the road to war and apparently neither side understands how to halt their voyage to chaos and disorder.

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?