operation in northern Iraq is apparently using army commandos and aircraft to
attack, and confirm the destruction of, PKK bases throughout the area. The PKK
has built a dozen or so camps and headquarters operations along the Turkish and
Iranian border. From these bases, the PKK recruits and trains fighters, and plans
terror attacks into Turkey and Iran. The loss of these bases will slow down PKK
violence. The use of commandos is apparently an effort to capture documents and
PKK members, or at least identify bodies. The Turks say about 150 have died in
four days of operations, 90 percent of them PKK. The Turks want documents, and
other evidence, showing the extent of PKK criminal activities in Europe. Turkey
has been trying to get European nations to stop allowing the PKK to use Europe
as a base for exiled PKK leaders, and to halt PKK fund raising among Kurdish
migrants, and the locals. If the Turks can prove lots of PKK criminal activity,
the PKK will lose some of its European sanctuaries.
February 23, 2008: The Iraqi government
is downplaying the Turkish "incursion" in northern Iraq. The word "incursion"
is important, since it indicates a short duration operation. Yes, the Iraqi
government has objected to the operation, but the response is minimal. One
senior Iraqi official even said there had not been "any major incursion or land
invasion"; another Iraqi official said the area in which the operation was
taking place was "isolated" and that the Turkish soldiers conducting it were
likely a battalion of special operations troops. These are significant
political signals, to the world, to the Iraqi people, and to the PKK. Last year
the Iraqi government promised Turkey it would help stop PKK attacks on Turkey. The
Turkish government has asked Iraq to arrest senior PKK leaders. If we hear over the next few weeks that Iraqi
police or Iraqi Army troops manned control points and road blocks south of the
Turkish incursion and actually arrested PKK fighters, then the Kurds are
serious about dealing with the PKK problem. As it is, Turkish special forces
operates on a regular basis in northern Iraq; the Iraqi government has given
its tacit approval to reconnaissance operations and limited combat patrols
by Turkish special ops personnel. (Austin Bay)
February 22, 2008: Turkey said that it
had sent a large military force into northern Iraq. The Turkish statement
called it an "incursion." At least 3,000 Turkish troops are involved in the
operation, though it is not clear that all of these troops have actually
crossed the border. The operation appears to be in the border region south of
the town of Cukurca, Turkey. The Turkish government said that its military
forces would pull back into Turkey as "soon as planned goals are achieved."
This is a signal to the Iraqi government that this is not a major operation. As
it is, the Turkish press later said that Turkey's President Abdullah Gul had
contacted Iraq's president Jala Talabani and briefed him on the operation.
The PKK said that its fighters had killed
two Turkish troops in a firefight "near the border." The PKK statement did not
specify the location.
The United States said Turkey had the
right to protect itself against PKK terrorism.
February 17, 2008: The Turks continued
to criticize European countries for allowing the PKK to maintain offices and
raise money in their nations. Since Summer 2007 Turkey has regularly complained
about "support from EU countries" for the PKK.
February 13, 2008: A U.S. general arrived in Turkey's capital,
Ankara, to discuss "joint efforts" by the US and Turkey to stop PKK attacks on
Turkey from bases in Iraq.
February 9, 2008:: Turkey said it will
continue to strike PKK rebels bases (in Iraq), "until we win." US, Iraqi, and European
military sources estimate that Turkey has 90,000 to 100,000 soldiers and
paramilitary police in the Turkey-Iraq border region.
Turkey said its forces seized 20
kilograms of ammonium nitrate (used for bombs) and 187 kilograms of hashish in
a raid in the Turkish town of Lice (near Diyarbakir). The ammonium nitrate and the drugs belonged
to the PKK. Turkey estimates that the PKK is involved in "80 percent of the
illegal drug business" in Europe. That may be a high estimate and one that
has propaganda value for Turkey, However, the PKK is involved in drug smuggling
and has connections throughout the Balkans.
February 5, 2008: The Turkish Air Force
struck 70 targets "in 11 different places" in the Hakurk and Avashim districts
in Iraq. The "places" are most likely base areas. The multiple strikes indicate
that the Turkish Air Force was likely striking "hardened" installations
February 3, 2008: The Turkish Army killed
10 PKK rebels in operations Bingol province (southeastern Turkey).