Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Threat of the Day

To put an end to the terrorist organisation operating in the neighbouring country, the order has been given to take every kind of measure, legal, economic, political, including a cross-border operation if necessary. George Bush office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as reported by Vincent Boland in "Turkey considers foray into Iraq"

If I hadn't given the game away, you might have assumed that statement came from the White House or US State Department as a "warning" to Iran, or even to Syria. But no. Elements of Turkish society, not least the military, are demanding more military action against the Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK.

The headline for Boland's story is misleading, since Turkey has been conducting "forays" into Iraq at least since 2005 (see "If this is true...") and who knows for how many years before. It's one of those recurring events that the American media find too insignificant to mention.

What is being threatened here is more on the order of a full-scale invasion—

In the past few months Turkey has amassed up to 100,000 troops along its border with Iraq, and special units are understood to have undertaken several raids across the border to carry out specific strikes against the PKK. A large-scale invasion, however, would require parliamentary approval, and there is no sign that the government is ready to seek this yet.

If the Turkish parliament is anything like the US Congress, authorization for an invasion should be a shoo-in.

The great irony here is that as the US threatens to bomb Iran (the latest excuse being the alleged supplying of arms to Shia factions), the US government, the Iraqi "government" and the Kurdish Regional Government apparently lack the will or means of stopping Kurdish incursions into Turkey. Oh, and into Iran as well, which has its own Kurdish region.1

Here is former ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith's analysis, provided to us by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) —

All parties act as if the Kurds on Qandil were someone else's problem. Iran and Turkey demand that the Iraqi government stop the cross-border attacks. But the Iraqi government has no presence within a hundred miles of Qandil, which is in territory nominally controlled by Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government. For its part, the regional government has neither the stomach to battle fellow Kurds nor the helicopters to reach the remote Qandil base.

The United States, on the other hand, has the military power to dislodge both the PKK and the PJAK, but the last thing Washington needs now is to open a new front in the Iraq War. The Bush administration has told Ankara it sympathizes with its concerns but has no resources to strike the PKK. Meanwhile, the Iranians accuse the United States of supporting PJAK, a charge Washington denies.

Concerning the Kurdish problem in Iran he writes—
There is little hope for a settlement with Iran, however. In April 1992, I listened to the Kurdish leader Sadik Sharafkindi outline his hopes for peace with Tehran. But four months later he was shot dead by Iranian agents posing as peace emissaries. To this day, Iran has refused to deal with even moderate Kurds, and the price it pays is growing support for extremists like PJAK.
Of course Iran should be encouraged to find diplomatic solutions to their Kurdish problems. But the Bush administration has lost all authority, moral or otherwise, to demand such a dialog, since the Iranians mirror US intransigence in its dealings with the forces in the region.

Related posts
If this is true... (Turkey & Rice) (3/4/05)
Israeli troops in "Iraq" (3/6/06)



1That's the diplomatic way of putting it. There are allegations that the US is supporting the Iranian branch of the PKK. And of course no tale would be complete without a mention of Israel.

Seymour Hersh reported in 2004—

Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria....

Asked to comment, Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said, “The story is simply untrue and the relevant governments know it’s untrue.” Kurdish officials declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the State Department.

However, a senior C.I.A. official acknowledged in an interview last week that the Israelis were indeed operating in Kurdistan.


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