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Pressure is building on Ankara to deal more harshly with cross-border terrorist attacks from Iraq.

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07/23/2006 06:55 PM
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Pressure is building on Ankara to deal more harshly with cross-border terrorist attacks from Iraq.
By Owen Matthews and Sami Kohen
Newsweek International
July 31, 2006 issue - Israel launched airstrikes on Lebanon in response to attacks by Hizbullah earlier this month, and George W. Bush called it "self-defense." But what to tell the Turks, who over the last week lost 15 sol-diers to terror attacks launched by sepa-ratist Kurds from neighboring Iraq? Many Turkish leaders are pressing for cross-border tactical air assaults on the guerrillas. But Bush, fearing yet another escalation of the Middle East's violence, urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold off. "The message was, unilateral action isn't going to be helpful," says a senior U.S. official, describing the 15-minute phone conversation. "The president asked for patience."

And so Turkish forces are holding fast—for now—in deference to their half-century alliance with the United States. But that patience is bound to be challenged, probably sooner than later. Domestic political pressures are building to take a leaf from Israel's book and hit back at the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Work-ers' Party, or PKK. Since the beginning of the year, attacks on Turkish military garrisons and police stations have esca-lated across the country's southeast, along with random shootings, bombings and protests—many of them, authorities suspect, organized in Iraq. Already the Turkish military has laid detailed plans for possible helicopter-and-commando assaults, government sources tell NEWSWEEK. Meanwhile, Ankara's frustration with Washington has grown palpable. For all the Bush administration's repeated promises to crack down on the PKK, little if anything has happened. With elections coming next year, Erdogan could be pardoned for soon concluding that his forbearance might prove politically dangerous. "Moderate, liberal people in Turkey are becoming increasingly anti-American," warns Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. "That isn't good."

Erdogan has built a career on skillfully riding populist waves, and he's not going to miss this one. On the one hand, he recognizes the importance of maintaining good relations with America, if only to foil critics who lambaste him for being too Islamist. On the other, popular anger at the PKK is getting explosive. At the funeral of a murdered soldier in Izmir last week, crowds destroyed wreaths sent by Erdogan's Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu and the city's governor, Oguz Kaan Koksal. Some mourners chanted slogans accusing the government of cooperating with the PKK. And when a group of 60 human-rights activists were arrested in the resort of Kiyikoy on suspicion of being PKK sympathizers last week, locals attacked the detainees with stones and iron bars.

The Turkish press has been baying for action, with even the solidly pro-American Turkish Daily News railing in an editorial that "Turkey is no banana republic that can leave its security to the mercy of others." Another editorial posed the question more directly. "Why is it that Israel has the right to 'self-defense'," the paper asked, "and not Turkey." The country's usually fractious parliamentary opposition, in a rare moment of unity, called for active intervention. "Opposition," says True Path Party leader Mehmet Agar, "ends at Habur"—Turkey's border crossing with Iraq.

[link to msnbc.msn.com]
Sol Invictus

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07/23/2006 07:25 PM
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Re: Pressure is building on Ankara to deal more harshly with cross-border terrorist attacks from Iraq.
Turkey has a lot to learn before entering the EU...

It needs to open a "constructive dialogue" with the PKK, try appeasement a few times, appreciate the wondrous diversity that a rebellious kurdish minority brings to their nation, blame all the problems on poverty and lack of education, etc, etc :P
Aut viam inveniam aut faciam
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Re: Pressure is building on Ankara to deal more harshly with cross-border terrorist attacks from Iraq.
The Trilemma of PKK Problem: Turkey – U.S – Iran

Source:Arzu Celalifer

Arzu Celalifer, JTW - One of the hottest issues in Turkish agenda is the recent PKK attacks against Turkish security forces that have been increased during the last two weeks. Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that was established by Abdullah Ocalan in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist separatist organization (upon their further operations the organization was included in the list of terrorist groups in most of the world countries) has the main goal to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey, Northern Iraq, and parts of Iran and Syria. Following this aim PKK began its campaign of armed terrorist violence in 1984, which has resulted in some 30,000 casualties. After the detention of Abdullah Ocalan by Turkish authorities in early 1999 the Turkish State Security Court subsequently sentenced him to capital penalty. Upon his detention in August 1999, Ocalan announced a peace initiative, ordering the members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues. In late 2003, the group sought to create another political face-lift, renaming itself as Kongra-Gel (KGK) and promoting its intentions while continuing to conduct attacks in its so called self-defense context and to refuse disarmament. Later on the group’s hard-line militant wing, the People’s Defense Force (HPG), renounced its self-imposed cease-fire on June 2004 but has continued its attacks in some degree. Following the cease-fire announcement, the group had divided into two factions: reformists and hardliners who advocated a return to violence. Finally the hardliners took control of the group and until now the terror related problems of Turkish Government have kept its seriousness. During this period Turkish Government has waited for a comprehensive cooperation and fundamental solution from U.S as strategic partner but ironically there have been no attempt from the U.S so far. After the latest Iraq war and invasion of the country by U.S it would be easier to eliminate the approximately 5,000 armed militants of the PKK whom currently are located in Northern Iraq but unfortunately again there were no such attempts.

This weakest link of U.S.-Turkish relations was also reminded by Iran along with her diplomacy tours regarding the nuclear crisis. Head of High National Security Forces and top negotiator Ali Larijani pointed out that U.S. negotiates with the terrorist PKK in Iraq but do nothing to prevent their terrorist activities and eliminating their camps located in Northern Iraq during his visit to Turkey in May 2006. Throughout those days there was also news about the Iranian Forces’ cross-border operations and missile attacks against the PKK camps. The message tried to be given by Iran was the cooperative rapprochement of Iran and the indifference or double standard rapprochement of the U.S regarding the issue. The initiative came from Iran was interpreted as a strategy game to strengthen her position in the vicious circle of nuclear crisis. Frankly speaking the efforts came from Iran could be interpreted as a strategy game in favor of her country, but it is just one side of the coin. On the hand it shall be reminded that Iran is struggling with Pejak that is associated with PKK and pursuing its terrorist activities against Iranian military forces on Iranian territory. So that Turkish-Iranian cooperation shall not be surprising, on the contrary it shall be understood that this cooperation is vital to remove the terrorist activities’ roots in the region. On the other side there is a naked truth: “Why the U.S. does not help Turkey in the fight against PKK and terrorism” and “Why all the cooperation words are hanging in the air without any concrete attempt”?

Finally the death of 14 Turkish soldiers by PKK militants in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia forced Turkey to take firm steps. A consensus reached by the Security Summit and the Council of Ministers meeting on July 17 called for a cross-border operation.

Turkey, warned Iraq and the U.S that she is losing patience over the presence of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) on Kandil Mountain. U.S administration that is not preferred a unilateral cross-border operation into northern Iraq by Turkey and defend that such an operation will not be logic was told that “the U.S should fulfill its responsibilities as an ally of Turkey and stop pursuing double-standard policies.” But regarding the demand of complete removal of the PKK, the US says it does not want Turkey to enter Northern Iraq. In response, Turkey said that she neither wishes to occupy Iraq nor to destroy it. Obviously, the aim is to use the right of legitimate defense in order to end terrorism that should have been stopped by the Iraqi government. Since the Middle East is shaking with the Israel-Palestine-Lebanon conflict nowadays and Israel is accused of using unbalanced power within the concept of self-defense and the U.S supports the right of self-defense of Israel and her unbalanced retaliation for two soldiers, it is inevitable for Turkey to interrogate her right of self-defense in consideration with the 30.000 casualties left behind the terrorist attacks. In the fight against terrorism, there are different methods practiced by different countries. But when we compare the conflict arose upon the hijacking of Israeli soldiers with murdered innocent people by terrorist attacks of PKK, and when we compare the approaches of two countries to fight against terrorism, we can see the obvious imbalance. In spite of the approach of Turkey that aims minimum civilian casualties and acting within the international law rules and the approach of Israel that does not care the civil society and indifference to international law, U.S as a super power who is responsible to establish the balance of power in the international system is acting unfair. This injustice view is the breaking point of the issue.

While the discussion is sparked between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson concerning a unilateral operation of Turkey in Northern Iraq, there was a striking news on Iranian Baztab News Agency today. According to this report, in parallel with the increase in PKK terrorist group’s attacks, the military forces of Iran have also increased the operations against this terrorist group. And after calculating the results of the latest two operations it was revealed that the death toll in PKK side was 54 and this has shown the increase of casualties of PKK in recent operations. Among the death militants there was also “Ismail Shojai” who was the father in law of Osman Ocalan.
On the other hand, The Iranian Ambassador to Ankara, Firouz Dowlatabadi in his interview with Cihan News Agency, has said that Iran will support Turkey in case of a possible military operation against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and estimated that Turkey’s entrance into northern Iraq to eradicate terrorist hideouts will not affect Iran. He also underlined the double standard policy of U.S. in the region.

As a conclusion, it is clear that Turkey cannot afford the PKK terrorist attacks anymore and on the other hand the stability in the Middle East is more fragile than ever to afford another war front. Especially during these days that the new maps of Middle East is wandering around, both Iran and Turkey that have the common problem of PKK terrorism. Iran is fighting against the attacks on her side and Turkey is preparing for a cross-border military operation. So the U.S that has the control in Iraq shall take concrete steps concerning the cooperation against fighting the PKK terrorism and help to solve the problem without another disaster scenario in the region. By this approach, U.S will make an effort to repair its image concerning the double standard policies and anti-U.S opinions in region.

Arzu Celalifer is a researcher at International Strategic Research Organization-Centre of Middle Eastern Studies.

[link to www.turkishweekly.net]


07.22.2006 Saturday - ISTANBUL 02:28

Losing Turkey for the Sake of PKK

If I am asked the reasons why the West is disliked by most people in the Middle East, I would, without hesitation, put “double standards” on the top of the list.

As a very good example, the West backs democracy and enumerates its advantages. Nevertheless, for some reason or other, it has always supported dictatorships in the region.

In almost every coup aimed at destroying democracy, there has been a Western connection. Most military coup stagers were only able to stand on their feet through Western support. Moreover, coup plotters do not set their plans into motion unless this support is ensured.

Turkey, Lebanon, Algeria, Iran or Egypt are no exceptions. Everyone in the region has lived through this experience.

If some foreigners think I am exaggerating, they can read New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer’s book titled “All The Shah's Men.”

As a matter of fact, the United States, France or any other western country are all chasing their vested interests as they pursue these policies. Hence, it wouldn’t be logical to blame any country for protecting its own interests. However, two points, in particular, remain problematic:

Firstly, these powers while preaching the gospel of civilization and democracy are at the same time pursuing unprincipled policies without moral background. Of course, the West has a historical experience with democracy and it has the right to be proud of this political model. And it has intellectuals who rightfully represent and fight for these democratic values.

Nonetheless, because of the policies they pursue, Western states have hardly represented these values with due respect, and this is one of the main reasons why people in the region are skeptical about initiatives related to promoting democracy.

Because people are fed up with the civilization rhetoric that leads to occupation and the democracy rhetoric that begets coups.

Secondly, it is doubtful whether or not these policies are even in the West’s medium- and -long term interests.

Because supporting dictatorial regimes in the name of civilization and democracy is tantamount to impeding sustainable development in the region and turning the Middle East into a powder keg. Just as US President George W. Bush, during a historical speech, regretted the West supporting dictatorships for the last 60 years for the sake of stability in the region.

Unfortunately, double standards that are associated with the West are not limited to democracy. Together with many others, Turkey recently has been subjected to double standards over the issue of terrorism.

Israel has waged an undeclared war against independent Lebanon in the name of rescuing two soldiers abducted by Hezbollah. It is bombarding the country, not discriminating between civilians and soldiers. It is bombing bridges, roads and airport. The death toll is over 300. And the US strongly backs this operation as “Israel’s right to self-defense.”

However, when Turkey brought up the issue of a possible military operation in Northern Iraq, where Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorists are being sheltered, following the killing of 14 Turkish soldiers by PKK separatists within one week, the US warned Turkey not to consider a “unilateral action.” Rightfully too, “double standards” was the banner headline in almost all Turkish newspapers.

Washington’s position has done great harm to the already-strained Turkish-US relations; and to new US ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, who had made a good start. The ambassador has been busy trying to clarify his stance after reactions from Prime Minister Erdogan.

Wilson defended Israel with the argument that Hezbollah started the violence; however, he said unilateral operation in Northern Iraq would be unwise, adding that this attitude does not amount to double standards. Turkey has an ally in Iraq, but Israel has no ally in the region, Wilson said.

Personally, I doubt a cross-border operation will resolve the PKK issue. And I cannot understand why cross-border operation is being emphasized that much, even though operations in the past failed to produce concrete results.

Frankly speaking, I cannot also understand why the US opposes the operation at the expense of losing one of its allies as well as its people. The reason behind my failure to understand this is that many Turks see American opposition to the operation as a sign of support to the PKK.

The ambassador argues, unlike Israel, Turkey has friends in Iraq and suggests resolving the issue through a tripartite formula including the US, Iraq and Turkey. But he had previously made two statements related to that point.

Firstly, he had said the US cannot launch an attack on PKK base on the Kandil Mountain under the current conditions; secondly, he admitted the US had not done everything to rein in the PKK.

Hence it is not easy to understand Washington’s opposition to Turkey attacking the Kandil Mountain if the US is helpless and the Iraqi government cannot even defend itself?

Furthermore, this is happening at a time when Turkish and American experts probing the cause of the rise in anti-Americanism point to the US condoning the presence of the PKK in Iraq as the main factor…

July 19, 2006

[link to www.zaman.com]