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.