Kurdish War: Digging For Dirt Among The Rubble


February 25, 2008: The Turkish 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 (bunkers).

February 3, 2008: The Turkish Army killed 10 PKK rebels in operations Bingol province (southeastern Turkey).


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