While many Iraqi officials openly
claim that Iraq does not have the police or military capability to shut down
the PKK, the government has ordered checkpoints on roads used by the PKK (to
halt supplies headed for PKK camps) and shutting down PKK offices in northern
Iraq. But the Iraqis (Arab and Kurd) have refused to launch a military
offensive against the PKK. Thus, while Turkey appreciated the Iraqi efforts, it
is still possible that Turkish troops will move into northern Iraq in the next
few weeks. This would catch some PKK fighters, and their camps would be
destroyed. But most of the PKK would disperse among the civilian population,
and continue their attacks on Turkey. The Turks would be back in the Spring,
having established their right to operate in northern Iraq. The Iraqi Kurdish
government would have to tolerate Turkish troops operating in their territory,
or face widespread destruction if the Iraqi Kurdish troops attacked the Turks.
November 3, 2007: If Turkey is going to launch a major anti-PKK offensive into Iraq,
it has to do so in the next month. Why? It's a one word answer: weather. The
Kandil Mountains, where the PKK has its Iraq bases, are tough terrain under any
circumstances, but when snow hits, the area becomes nearly impenetrable.
Certainly special operations forces can maintain surveillance in these
conditions, and launch raids, but it is hard for a conventional force to push
into the area on the ground. Airmobile forces are useful but when bad weather
sets in the helicopter may be grounded and the airmobile infantry force is cut
off from supply and support.
October 31, 2007: The government of Iraq said that
it is establishing "more check points" in Kurdistan to try to isolate the PKK's
bases in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq. The Iraqi government said the
checkpoints will restrict the movement of PKK fighters. The Iraqis are
increasing the checkpoints in an attempt to show the Turkish government that
they are fulfilling their commitment to "act" against the PKK.
October 30, 2007: The Turkish military said that
its forces had killed 15 PKK rebels in firefights on October 29 and 30. Three
Turkish soldiers died in the clashes. The firefights took place along the
October 28, 2007: The PKK said that it buys US
weapons on the arms market, and does not receives any weapons from the US. This
was in response to Turkish complaints that American weapons have turned
up in PKK arsenals.
October 27, 2007: Iraq and Turkey are reportedly
discussing "non-military options" for dealing with the PKK. One of the options
is Iraqi interdiction of PKK supply lines in Iraq. An Iraqi spokesman confirmed
that Iraq is interested in "practical steps and measures" that will "disrupt"
October 25, 2007: Turkey's Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan said that his government would decide if and when its forces
entered Iraq to strike at PKK rebels and PKK bases. The statement was directed
at US diplomats, who have been urging Turkey to "refrain" from launching an
attack into Iraqi territory.
The Turkish government said that its troops had
engaged a PKK force along the Iraq-Turkey border in Semdinli province. The
government claimed that at least 30 PKK rebels died in the firefight.
Iraqi Kurdish leaders said that there "is no
military solution" to Turkey's struggle with the PKK.