Turkey may cooperate with Iran against PKK
in Iraqi Kurdistan
ISTANBUL, — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan has signaled that Turkey could launch a
joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants'
main base in Kurdistan region in northern Iraq,
according to reports in Turkish newspapers on
In August, Turkey carried out a series of air and
artillery strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
rebels in northern Iraq and the interior minister
said this week a ground operation could be launched
any time against the guerrillas there, depending on
the result of talks with Iraq.
The military action was triggered by an increase in
PKK attacks in southeast Turkey in which dozens of
security personnel were killed.
Speaking to reporters while traveling to Tunisia on
a north African tour, Erdogan said the minister's
comment had been a slip of the
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks
with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a
meeting at the government palace in Tunis September
15, 2011 Photo: Reuters
tongue that had been
corrected, and that there would be no forewarning of
any such operation.
"Things like this are not said, they are done," the
Hurriyet daily quoted the prime minister as saying.
The same comments were reported by other newspapers.
"The chief of the general staff has completed
assessments in the region (southeast Turkey)
together with force commanders," he said.
There was no immediate official comment from Iraq.
Speculation about a ground offensive was fueled when
Erdogan met military chiefs before his trip to north
Erdogan was also asked in Tunisia about relations
with Iran and cooperation against the PKK and he
said: "It's going well. We may act together at
The Qandil mountains are on the Iraq-Iran border and
the main PKK bases are believed to be located in the
mountains, a part of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan
region around 80-100 km south of the Turkish border.
Iran, Turkey's southeastern neighbor, said this
month its troops had killed or wounded 30 members of
the PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), an
offshoot of the PKK that is reported to have
launched ambushes and sabotaged pipelines on the
Iranian side of the border.
The Turkish military has said its strikes against
the PKK in Iraq in August killed 145 to 160
militants. The PKK has only referred to a few
casualties and the figures could not be
A senior Turkish diplomat has been in Iraq for talks
with the government this week as Ankara seeks more
cooperation against the PKK from Iraq, whose large
in the north, is politically influential.
Turkey has launched several cross-border air and
ground operations in Iraqi Kurdistan region in a
conflict that first erupted in the 1980s. The PKK is
fighting for greater autonomy and Kurdish rights,
having earlier sought a separate state.
The last major incursion was in early 2008, when
10,000 of Turkish troops, backed by tanks,
attack helicopters and warplanes,
crossed into Kurdistan region in northern
Iraq on February 21, 2008 in an operation which Ankara said was aimed at Turkey's Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas and their bases.
Turkish forces withdrew
from semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in 'northern
Iraq' on February 29, only a day after US President
George W. Bush
urged Ankara to
quickly wrap up the incursion and Defense Secretary
Robert Gates personally
put pressure on
Turkish leaders during a visit to Ankara.
Turkish MPs first approved
cross-border operations into Iraqi Kurdistan
on October 17,
From August 17,
Turkish jets carried out air strikes against the
Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in
Iraqi Kurdistan region,
under justification of chasing elements of the
anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers
of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home
an air raid that
Kurdish civilians in a village north
of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21st.
Erdogan's comments to reporters also indicated a
tougher approach on the Kurdish issue generally
after government efforts to negotiate a solution
failed to yield a result.
"The separatist terrorist group and its political
offshoots should not expect goodwill and
understanding from us as in the past," Erdogan said.
This week, recordings have been posted on the
Internet of apparent talks in recent years between
top Turkish intelligence officials and leading PKK
members with the aim of ending the conflict.
Erdogan said investigations were continuing on how
the recordings were leaked. He has said previously
that the state has held talks with the PKK.
Since it was established
in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
Copyright ©, respective
author or news agency,
Reuters | ekurd.net | Agencies
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news
information on this page