Home > Roundup > Roundup of Analysis: Turkey, the PKK, and Iraq

Roundup of Analysis: Turkey, the PKK, and Iraq

Turkey’s Wise Hesitation. It is not merely statesmanlike restraint or responsiveness to U.S., European and Arab appeals that have so far prevented Turkey from launching a military invasion of northern Iraq. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his military commanders are also acutely aware that such an operation would play into the hands of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, the insurgent group that is dug into the rugged, mountainous terrain along the Turkish-Iraqi border. Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed and eight others captured in a PKK ambush inside Turkey on Sunday; if there were an invasion, Ankara’s losses would be much higher, while the chances that PKK bases inside Iraq could be wiped out are small. Meanwhile, Turkey’s gains in integrating its ethnic Kurd population — a large part of which voted for Mr. Erdogan’s party in recent elections — could be nullified. What Turkey really wants is to pressure the United States and Iraq into taking action against the PKK. (Washington Post)

Turkey approaches its ‘finest hour’. With tension rising on the Turkish-Iraqi border over the weekend – Kurdish rebels killed 17 Turkish troops on Sunday – the region could be plunged into war in a matter of days. “Black Sunday” seems to show that key players – Talabani, Barazani and Zebari – and US president George W Bush – are simply not telling the truth. The Kurdish leaders insist, and so does the United States, that the PKK operates from northern Iraq on its own, with no mandate from either Kurdish decision-makers, the Iraqi government or the Bush White House. Speaking at a press conference with Barazani on Sunday, Talabani seemed to contradict himself, confirming his ties to the PKK by saying that all Turkish requests to arrest or extradite its leaders were “a dream that will never be fulfilled”. (Sami Moubayed, Asia Times)

US taking steps to avoid friendly fire in N. Iraq. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica has requested three days from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to allow the withdrawal of US troops from northern Iraq to prevent a possible confrontation of Turkish and US troops in the event Turkey starts an incursion into northern Iraq to strike against bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization, a Turkish official said. (Today’s Zaman)

Talabani refuses to deliver PKK leaders to Turkey amid protests against incursion. “The handing over of PKK leaders to Turkey is a dream that will never be realized,” [Iraq’s President] Talabani, a Kurd, told a news conference in the northern province of Arbil, where he held an urgent meeting with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to discuss rising tension between Iraq and Turkey after the PKK killed 12 Turkish soldiers in an ambush in the early morning on Sunday near the Iraqi border. (Today’s Zaman)

Tactical and Strategic Factors in Turkey’s Offensive Against the PKK within Turkey. A Turkish military offensive in the ethnic-Kurdish provinces of southeastern Turkey began in mid-September. Turkey’s autumn campaigns against the militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) usually do not begin until October, but the current campaign is designed to reinforce Turkey’s position in negotiations with Iraq over the elimination of PKK bases in northern Iraq. The offensive also delivers a message to Turkey’s U.S. ally, which has been reluctant to move against PKK bases in Iraq. According to Turkish Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug, “the U.S. should understand and see that it is not time for words, but for action” (Today’s Zaman, September 25). Turkey’s armed forces, the Turk Silahli Kuvvetleri (TSK), have until the end of October (when winter weather sets in on the mountainous border region) to destroy or capture the 1,500-1,900 PKK militants believed to be in Turkey. (The Jamestown Foundation)

Turkey’s row with U.S. over Iraq may hit lira hard. The high-yielding lira has fallen 3.3 percent this week against the dollar from six-year highs due to the Iraq issue, but economists say it could drop much more if Turkey defies Washington and sends its forces across the border. (Reuters)

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