- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Canavar warned of such, the first makes reference to the possibility, the second, the reality:
Possible Turkish Intervention in Iraq?
By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Turkey is currently making a lot of noise about launching a cross-border incursion into Iraq to engage the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in combat operations. On July 18, Professor Sedat Laciner published an article in the Turkish Weekly comparing the situation that Turkey faces from the PKK to the threat Israel faces from Hamas and Hizballah. After stating that Western countries have defended Israel's right to self-defense, Prof. Laciner asks, "But, does the right of self defence just belong to Israel in the Middle East? For example, doesnt Turkey have such a right?"
Prof. Laciner outlines the damage that the PKK has inflicted upon Turkey: "Turkey has given terrorism more than 36.000 victims. The PKK is the bloodiest terrorist organization in the world. It is among the first places in the lists of terrorist organizations of both the US and the EU. Besides, it does not have democratically elected-members unlike the Hamas and Hezbollah. It sustains its name with its massacres." (For more on the PKK, see CFR's profile.) Prof. Laciner then turns to the situation Turkey faces on its border, with the PKK gaining strength in Iraq:
The PKK has more than 10 armed camps in Iraq. These camps are located in the northeast part of the country. In addition to this, the PKK have direct or indirect offices in many cities of Iraq. Lastly, they opened an office in Baghdad called "Ocalan Culture Center". Turkey transferred the information of all these developments with the documents to the Baghdad Government, to the US authorities and to the Kurdish authority in the north Iraq. Yet, they have nothing to do except wasting Turkeys time. The USA says: "Go and talk to the Baghdad, they are governing the Iraq". On the other hand the Baghdad says "I have no power in that region, I cannot destroy the PKK bases, go and talk with the Kurdish Authority in the North Iraq." However, the Kurds in the North Iraq say that "My power is not enough to fight against this organization"As a result, Prof. Laciner argues that Turkey has the right to engage in a defensive intervention into Iraq to smash the PKK and its network.
Nor is Prof. Laciner alone. The Turkish Weekly reports that the Turkish government recently summoned both the U.S. and Iraqi ambassadors to warn that Turkish patience with continued PKK presence in Iraq was wearing thin. Turkey said that if the U.S. and Iraq do not take "necessary steps," Turkey could launch a "cross-border operation." Turkey has suggested that if it's unsatisfied with the steps that the U.S. and Iraq take, it could launch this operation unilaterally: "Our patience is not endless. Root out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerillas immediately, otherwise, we will be forced to resort to our right of self-defense." See also the account from the New York Times.
Even Turkish opposition parties are applauding the prospect of such a cross-border incursion.
The flashpoint for the push for intervention is an incident last week in which fifteen soldiers, police and guards were killed by PKK guerillas in a clash in Southeast Turkey. This is just the last in a long string of incidents that has occurred over the last couple of years, but the death of these fifteen was particularly disturbing to the Turks. It has been the lead item in Turkish newscasts.
There are two potential dangers to Turkish intervention in Iraq. The first is that Turkish units may end up clashing with American-backed Kurdish units (i.e. units in the Kurdish areas that aren't affiliated with the PKK). The second danger is that a Turkish unit may accidentally engage Americans in a firefight. This is a particular concern for the Turkish side. Reader Timothy Thompson writes that a senior Turkish naval source of his "feels invading Iraq is about as wise a move for Turkish forces as continuing to occupy Northen Cyprus. Nothing to gain, everything to lose. He stresses the absolute no-win situation of a clash with American forces in northern Iraq. He points out that Greece and Turkey were lucky to avoid a military clash after the collision of Greek and Turkish fighter jets in a game of 'chicken' a few weeks ago -- the entire area is very tense. Political logic gives way to raw emotions in military confrontations. The historic and vital US-Turkish strategic alliance could disappear overnight if Turkish special forces operatives inflict causalities on American troops in northern Iraq."
July 19, 2006 03:39 PM
Turkish Troops Enter Iraq and Fire Rockets
Intended as a Warning to Kurds, Unclear if Turkish Action Violates Reported US-Turkish Agreement; No Casualties Reported
By Kirk H. Sowell
According to the Iraqi newspaper Al-Rafidayn, about 200 Turkish soldiers along with some village guards crossed over Iraqs northern border sometime before 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and fired several rockets, apparently targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish terrorist organization which has taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. The incursion took place in the Kani Masi region in the Kurdish province of Dahuk, which is Iraqs northernmost province. There were no casualties reported, but local residents complained that some of the rockets hit near their homes, and that the explosions had set off forest fires. Al-Rafidayn, which cited the Voices of Iraq News Service, reported that the missiles hit five areas within Dahuk - Kali Sinat, Zawita, Kali Bisagha, Kuluk and al-Ansh.
Turks claim that the PKK has killed 36,000 Turks and that now Iraqs Kurdish administration is doing nothing to restrain PKK activity against Turkey. A recent clash in which 15 Turkish soldiers were killed appears to have been the catalyst for the recent rise in tensions between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdish authorities. For more context, see Daveed Gartenstein-Ross recent report in Counterterrorism Blog. ThreatsWatch reported briefly on this issue Monday.
Gartenstein-Ross more recently reported on an agreement between the U.S. and Turkey that the Turkish military would not enter Iraq without consultation and coordination with the United States. This agreement, if effectuated, would help ensure that Turkish troops did not accidentally end up engaging in fire with non-PKK Kurdish troops or with American troops. Al-Rafidayn did not indicate whether this operation was coordinated with the U.S. or not, but a quote from a Kurdish military officer suggested that Kurdish military authorities were not forewarned (major English-language news outlets have yet to report on this incident). Given that the rockets were fired into apparently empty forests, this incursion may have simply been intended as a warning to Iraqi Kurdish authorities rather than an attack on specific PKK units.