NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Turkish attack on PKK

Iraq angered by Turkish bombing

Iraqi leaders criticized Turkey on Monday for bombing Kurdish militants in northern Iraq with airstrikes that they said left at least one woman dead.

The Turkish attacks in Dohuk Province on Sunday — involving dozens of warplanes and artillery — were the largest known cross-border attack since 2003. They occurred with at least tacit approval from American officials.

The Iraqi government, however, said it was not consulted or informed about the attacks.

Massoud Barzani, leader of the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, condemned the assaults as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty that undermined months of diplomacy. “These attacks hinder the political efforts exerted to find a peaceful solution based on mutual respect,” he said in a statement. [complete article]

‘U.S. backed’ Turkish raids on Iraq

Turkey’s air strikes against Kurdish rebels in Iraq on Sunday were approved by the United States in advance, the Turkish military has said.

The country’s top general, Yasar Buyukanit, said the US opened northern Iraqi airspace for the operation.

Jets targeted the Kurdish rebel PKK in areas near the border. The Turkish media said up to 50 planes were used. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — This will comes as news to most Americans, but according to the State Department, the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (Kurdistan Workers Party) — generally known as the PKKposes a threat to the United States. State Department spokesman Tom Casey this afternoon said, “we remain concerned by the threat posed by the PKK to Turkey, to Iraq and to the United States.” Curious then that the U.S. seems to content to sit back and let Turkey deal with that threat — the only qualification being that next time Turkey bombs Iraq the State Department would like the Turks to talk to the Iraqi government (presumably before the attack). As for whether the U.S. expects consultation with the Turks on its bombing operations in Iraq, the U.S. government is being quite explicit in saying that no prior consent is required. “I don’t think it’s for us to accept or reject,” said Casey when asked whether the U.S. accepts Turkey’s military action. And as the Turkish newspaper, Zaman reports: “Kathy Schalow, the spokesperson for the US Embassy in Ankara, was quoted as saying that the Turkish side had informed US authorities beforehand about Sunday’s operation but underlined that the decision to carry out the strike was up to the Turks and no US consent was needed.”

What, I wonder, does Iran make of this? For several months Iran has also been shelling Kurdish villages in Iraq where it claims guerrillas are based. If Iran was to now escalate its attacks and conduct air raids, would the U.S. be issuing another no-consent-required statement? I guess not:

Turkish officials privately attribute US reluctance to crack down on the PKK to its covert support for its so-called sister organisation, the Pejak, or Free Life party of Kurdistan, which is battling over Kurdish areas of north-western Iran. This is seen as part of a broader US effort to counter Iranian meddling in Iraq, and destabilise hardliners in Tehran.

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