Turkey should leave Iraqi Kurdistan 'as
quickly as possible': Bush
February 29, 2008
WASHINGTON, -- US President George W. Bush
said Turkey's incursion into Kurdistan region in
'northern Iraq' should be limited and temporary, and
urged the Turks to wrap up the operation "as quickly
Bush told a news conference that he agreed with
Defense Secretary Robert Gates "who said the
incursion should be limited and should be temporary
"The Turks need to move quickly, achieve their
objective and then get out... as quickly as
possible," he said.
Gates had pressed
Thursday in meetings with Turkish leaders in Ankara
for a quick end to the week-old offensive by Turkish
troops against Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
rebels in Kurdistan 'northern Iraq'.
U.S. President George W. Bush J. Photo:White House
But Turkey's Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul and army
chief Yasar Buyukanit offered no timetable for a
pullout in their talks with Gates,www.ekurd.net
insisting Turkey would
"remain in northern Iraq as long as necessary" and
would wipe out PKK hideouts before withdrawing.
The US defense secretary, however, said on a flight
back to Washington Thursday that he thought the
Turks had "got the message" to wrap up their
incursion in Iraqi Kurdistan quickly.
"In the sessions that we had, there was no specific
mention of a date. I think they got our message,
though," Gates said.
Even as Gates met with the Turks Thursday, Turkish
warplanes bombed PKK positions in Kurdistan region
'northern Iraq' and intensive fighting was reported
on the ground near a major rebel base in the Zap
Iraqi security sources
Part of Bush News
QUESTION: Mr. President, Turkey's ground offensive
in northern Iraq is now a week old with no end in
QUESTION: How quickly would you like to see Turkey
end its offensive -- its incursion? And do you have
any concerns about the possibility of protracted
presence in northern Iraq causing further
destabilization in the region?
BUSH: A couple of points on that. One, the Turks,
the Americans and the Iraqis, including the Iraqi
Kurds, share a common enemy in the PKK.
And, secondly, it's in nobody's interest that there
be safe haven for people who are -- have the
willingness to kill innocent people.
Second point I want to make to you is that there is
a special forces presence in northern Iraq, in
Kurdistan now, apart from what you're referring to.
So there is a presence. And there has been a
presence for a while.
Thirdly, I strongly agree with the sentiments of
Secretary Gates, who said that the incursion must be
limited and must be temporary in nature.
BUSH: In other words, it shouldn't be long lasting.
The Turks need to, you know, move, move quickly,
achieve their objective and get out.
QUESTION: But how quickly, sir, do they need to move
BUSH: You know, as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: Days or weeks?
BUSH: Well, as possible.
Thousands of Turkish
troops, backed by tanks, attack helicopters and
crossed into Kurdistan region
in northern Iraq on February 21 in an operation
which Ankara said was aimed at Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK) guerrillas and their bases.
Iraqi Kurdistan politician says, Turkey is using
Turkey's Kurdish separatist PKK rebel group (Kurdish
freedom fighters) as an
excuse to invade Kurdistan region 'Iraq' to prevent
the establishment of Kurdistan state in the Kurdish
autonomous region in 'northern Iraq', Turkey fears
this could fan separatism among its own large
Kurdish population in southeast Turkey.
Turkey has never, and still does not, recognize the
Iraqi Kurdistan region government (KRG) and refuses to
meet with its representatives in any official
capacity. That reflects Ankara's fear that any
international respect shown to the autonomous Iraqi
Kurdistan region would only embolden Turkey's own
large Kurdish minority to seek similar home-rule
Analysts believe the Turkish raids inside Iraqi
Kurdistan region had a secondary purpose of
discouraging a referendum on Kirkuk city. Ankara
fears that if the oil-rich Kirkuk joins Kurdistan,
the Kurds will have the economic foundation they
need for an independent state.
Since 1984 the PKK
took up arms for self-rule in the country's mainly
Kurdish southeast of Turkey. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded
an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
the U.S. and the EU.
Information for this report was provided AFP |
Agencies | CQ Transcripts Wire
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.
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
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, a
large Turkey's Kurdish community 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 (
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news
information on this page