In response to my Nat'l Journal story on tensions between the Turkey and Iraqi Kurds over the PKK camp in northern Iraq, Ankara-based TurcoPundit writes in correspondence to me:My sense reporting that piece was that the US was more or less kicking this issue down the road at its own peril, and underestimating the potential for this issue to become a crisis, and the depth of anger on the Turkish side, even among the pro Western elites.
Force is not sufficient but necessary to deal with the PKK. Washington and Baghdad can't and Iraq Kurds won't do that. It's Turkey's problem. Ankara should do it.
U.S. should let Turkey intervene militarily against PKK in Northern Iraq. This intervention may take place with Washington’s consent, cooperation, reservations. It can be limited in geographical scope, duration and type of force used. Turkey must show utmost care not to harm the civilian population...
Otherwise, if Turkey is forced to intervene without US cooperation and “permission”, the relationship may suffer very seriously. Some very nasty things may happen. US prestige may suffer even further and it may be the last nail in Iraq projects' coffin.
It is 50 months now and US did not do anything against PKK in N Iraq. Penalizing Turkey for 2003 is unjustified and incomprehensible. Turkey contributed a lot to the US effort in Iraq. (see these for more details, esp. Fata and Fried). ...
PKK cannot afford to resist or attack the U.S. forces. Iraqi Kurds cannot afford to alienate Washington. They may protest a little but it is impossible for them to do anything against U.S. wishes or interests. Similarly Iraqi Kurds cannot respond to a Turkish intervention against PKK. They will know that otherwise Turkish forces will end up at Kirkuk.
Turkey, for her part, may offer a limited, conditional phased amnesty for PKK militants. An additional economic incentives program for private sector investment in the Kurdish region is possible. Lowering the 10 percent threshold in Turkey's election system which makes it impossible for Kurdish parties to participate in Turkish parliament may be lowered. More cultural rights is desirable. More political space to Kurds should be permitted. (even allowing them to voice demands for autonomy and independence provided they do not resort to violence).
I know what I suggest is not easy and risk-free. ... Turkey is rebuilding N Iraq, giving them electricity, consumer goods and outlet to the world in return for unbelievabe ungratefulness. Enough is enough.
US is on the verge of losing Turkey. Delaying tactics will no longer work. When the currecnt political crises and elections pass, number one issue will be a Turkish intervention to N Iraq.
Turkish troops backed by helicopters have launched an operation against Kurdish separatist rebels, security sources said on Monday, after two soldiers and five rebels were killed over the weekend.Bloomberg (via Laura):
They said thousands of soldiers were taking part in the operation involving Cobra and Sikorsky helicopters against rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the valleys of mountainous Sirnak province, near the Iraqi border.
Fighting escalates in the spring as the snow melts and rebels cross the border from mountain bases in Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq, where Ankara continues to urge the United States to crack down on militants.
The sources said security had been stepped up along the border with Iraq, which was being monitored by F-16 warplanes during the day and thermal cameras at night.
"Turkey's military sent 20,000 soldiers to the country's southeastern province of Sirnak in an operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, CNN Turk said.
Turkish Army units, supported by local paramilitaries and 20 attack helicopters, were searching mountains in the area for members of the armed group, the Istanbul-based television channel said, citing unidentified security officials.
Turkey has fought a two-decade war against the PKK at the cost of almost 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish. The Turkish government says the U.S. and Iraq aren't doing enough to stop PKK fighters based in neighboring northern Iraq from crossing the border to mount attacks in Turkey."