US, Turkey planning operations against Kurdish PKK
guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan
WASHINGTON ,-- The United States and Turkey
are preparing a covert military operation to
suppress Kurdish PKK guerrillas based in Kurdistan
region (northern Iraq) and capture their leaders,
the Washington Post reported Monday.
Robert Novak reported in The
Washington Post that the joint operation, whose
broad outlines have been presented to some members
of Congress, was aimed at preventing a Turkish
invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan.
US special forces will work with the Turkish army,
Novak says in his column, adding that the Bush
administration was trying to prevent another front
from opening in Iraq.
The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity in
Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam
Hussein, has alarmed Turkey, Novak points out.
Ankara has grown increasingly more uneasy about the
centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading
across international boundaries -- and chewing up
big pieces of Turkey, the article said.
Turkey has a well-trained, well-equipped army of
250,000 near the border,
facing some 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
fighters hiding in the mountains of Kurdistan
But significant cross-border operations could get
the PKK the support of the military forces of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, the best US ally in
Iraq, Novak pointed out.
The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's
mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984 in a conflict
that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Rebels have stepped up their attacks this year,
while Ankara has massed troops on the border with
Iraq, fuelling speculation it will launch a
The plan was outlined in secret briefings on Capitol
Hill last week by Eric Edelman, undersecretary of
defense for policy, according to the report.
Edelman, a foreign service officer who once was US
ambassador to Turkey, said he was sure of success,
adding that the US role could be concealed and
always would be denied, the column said.
But some of the briefed lawmakers were left
wondering whether this was a wise policy for
handling the beleaguered Kurds, who have been
betrayed by Washington the US government in years
past, Novak points out.
** The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously
rejected due to its alleged political implications
by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize
the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast
Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in
Turkey and are denied rights granted to other
minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently
granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
education in the Kurdish language, but critics say
the measures do not go far enough.
Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in
Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia),
which covers an area as big as France, about half of
all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in
Turkey is home to over 25 million ethnic Kurds, some
of whom openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a
Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish
southeast of Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed
severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language,
prohibiting the language in education and broadcast
The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized
in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q
which do not exist in the Turkish
alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and
The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan
but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag
is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it
is a criminal offence"
North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey)
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