Thursday, July 28 2005 @ 08:42 AM MSD
|Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari warned Turkey on Sunday not to let its troops cross into northern Iraq to hunt PKK terrorists. The PKK has strong military bases in Iraq and the terrorist organization uses Northern Iraq in its attacks against civilian targets and Turkish security forces.|
Zebari told that the US forces in Iraq were poised to capture the terrorists, Reuters reported. The US officials and politicians, including President George W. Bush had promised to remove the PKK’s terrorist camps in Iraq, however no concrete step has been taken. Turkey says it will make military operation against PKK if the US or Iraqi forces do nothing.
“They are in regions outside the co
ntrol of the central and Kurdish government. If they move, the American forces can arrest them,” Zebari told the Reuters news agency, himself an Iraqi Kurd.
“We have an obligation to Turkey, and to control all non-Iraqi armed groups and prevent activities against neighboring countries.”
“We reject any regional military interference in Iraqi affairs, whether Turkish, Iranian or Arab, because it destroys confidence and shifts the focus when our priority is finishing the political process, improving the security situation and providing basic services.”
Ihsan Bal, Turkish expert on terrorism, says Zebari’s approach is not understandable in Turkey: “Northern Iraq is Iraq or part of any other country. Zebari is playing a game. If Northern Iraq is part of Iraq or a Kurdish-controlled region, they have to remove the PKK terrorist camps. If not, Turkey can do what needed. If the US is responsible for the security, the US forces should fight the PKK terrorists, if they say “we are not strong enough”, Turkish security forces are strong enough to combat against terrorism”.
Similarly Dr. Sedat Laciner, head of Ankara-based think tank ISRO argues that Zebari and other Kurdish leaders aim to establish a separate Kurdish state in Northern Iraq and they can not dare to challenge against any Kurdish group eve this group is a terrorist organization: “The Kurdish separatist leaders need time to divide Iraq. They do not want to fight the PKK or any other Kurdish terrorist group. And the PKK is not fighting against the Iraqi Kurdish groups. The Americans on the other hand do not want to disturb the Iraqi Kurds who are the only supporters of the American occupation” said Laciner. According to Dr. Laciner the US’ indifference policy towards the PKK undermines Turkish-American relations and nourishes the anti-American currents in Turkey. Laciner says “if the US continues its existing PKK policy, Turkish people will perceive that the US supports terrorist organization.
General Ilker Basbug of the Turkish General Staff said last week the United States had given orders for the capture of PKK rebels in Iraq, adding that Turkey had a right to enter Iraqi territory to attack them if no action was taken. However the US officials have not confirmed the claim.
Ankara has repeatedly pressed the United States to act against the PKK in Iraq, where the Turkish military says about 3,000 militants operate in the northern mountains, in a part of Iraq designated as Kurdish-ruled.
Turkey’s General Staff says the rebels have crossed into Turkey more frequently and in larger numbers in the past year. It has said they now number nearly 2,000 inside Turkey, carrying out attacks on military targets in southeast part of the country.
Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Turkey had a tacit agreement with Iraq that it could pursue the PKK into northern Iraqi territory. Turkey has urged Iraq and its neighbors to tighten border security because of rising violence since the PKK ended a unilateral ceasefire in June last year.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. The PKK is a terrorist organization according to the US, the UK, the EU and Turkish laws.