Friday, March 04, 2005
If this is true ...
ANKARA, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Turkey has deployed 1,357 military personnel in northern Iraq to fight against members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), said Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul on Thursday.
Gonul was quoted by semi-official Anatolia News Agency as saying, "Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have deployed 1,357 personnel in northern Iraq to fight against the PKK, gather information regarding the developments in the region and work as liaison officers under US forces in Kirkuk, Mosul and Tal Afar."
He added that such cross-border operations have been staged to pursue the terrorists in northern Iraq since 1992.
It looks as if Condi Rice gave a wink and a nod to Turkish entry into the conflict during her recent visit there.
Here's what the Voice of America was putting out at the end of her visit—
At a closing news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Ms. Rice reiterated the U.S. commitment to the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, an implicit rejection of Kurdish statehood, and to an Iraq, in which all its religious and ethnic factions are welcome and respected.
Who could have guessed that "territorial integrity" would allow for invasion by neighboring powers? But this is the Bush administration. They'll say anything.
She also said she told her Turkish hosts that Iraq's territory should never be a place from which terrorism can be committed against its neighbors.
"Indeed, from the American point of view, whatever terrorist organizations wish to perpetrate crimes against populations have to be treated the same," she said. "Whether it is the al-Qaida, the PKK, or the Palestinian rejectionists, terrorism is simply not an acceptable tool in the modern world, and I wanted to be certain that the minister and his colleagues knew of America's commitment to rid the region of terrorism, including terrorism that might take place from the territory of Iraq."
Ms. Rice noted that the State Department has long listed the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Members of the group found refuge in northern Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion, and have declared an end to a five-year-old unilateral cease-fire with Turkey.
"Stark warning" to other countries of the region is the way this was reported. But that she would say "including terrorism that might take place from the territory of Iraq" is astonishing. Considering the actual situation on the ground in Iraq, this must have appeared as quite a threat to the evil-doers—or quite a reassurance to the Turks.
In an interview with Turkey's NTV news channel, the secretary of state stopped short of pledging U.S. military action against the PKK, citing a difficult security situation in the north and the Iraqi insurgency.
We're sorry, but we have our hands full, guys.
But she said the United States is determined to work with the Iraqis and with Turkey to make sure that the PKK cannot act, and said Turkey should understand what she termed the United States' absolute commitment on this.
And since we've just said that we regard the PKK as the equal of all those other terrorist groups we're fighting (even though we ourselves are not going to fight them), we will understand completely if y'all decide to do something about it. We are absolutely committed to this.
Expect a lot of "We're working with the Turkish government to resolve the situation" in the next few days—if any questions are raised, that is.
The Turks seem to have been coming and going from Iraq as they please for some time. Perhaps Rice's purpose was to give the appearance of ratifying that which cannot be avoided. And the Turkish government is now making their presence in Iraq "official."