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Turkey calls on Iraq once again to stop Kurdish rebels
by reposted
Wednesday Apr 11th, 2007 7:53 AM
Ankara - Turkey once again called on Iraqi authorities to take action to stop guerrillas from the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) crossing into Turkey, with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Wednesday saying Turkey reserved the right to take action itself if Iraq does not move first.

'Our position is very clear ... If harm is coming to Turkey from a neighbour then that neighbour must do something to stop it,' Gul said.
'If they do not have the power (to stop the PKK) then international law provides the necessary remedies,' Gul said in apparent reference to the possibility of Turkey launching military operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

Gul refused to be drawn however when asked if a military operation was on the table.

Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to use its forces in Iraq to close down PKK camps in northern Iraq where an estimated 5,000 PKK fighters are based. US officials have said there forces are too stretched to be able to carry out such an operation.

Gul's statements came a day after the National Security Council, a board comprising the president, senior ministers and military leaders, said that it had looked at the 'political, economic and other approaches' that need to be taken to stop the PKK

by more
Wednesday Apr 11th, 2007 7:55 AM
The U.S. State Department on Monday rebuked Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani for threatening to intervene in Turkey's Kurdish-related issues.

In a television interview broadcast at the weekend Barzani, said that Turkey must not interfere in the Kurds' bid to attach northern Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish semiautonomous zone, otherwise Iraq's Kurds will retaliate by intervening in Turkey's southeast, scene of terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). "We think that those kinds of statements are really unhelpful, and they certainly do not further the goal of greater Turkish-Iraqi cooperation on issues of common concern, including fighting the PKK in its making cross-border raids into Turkey and killing innocent Turkish civilians," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters at his daily briefing.

"The spokesman's remarks are a diplomatic equivalent of saying 'shut up,'" said another U.S. diplomat privately.

Analysts here agree that from Washington's standpoint, Barzani's heightened rhetoric against Turkey could not come at a worse time.

by more
Wednesday Apr 11th, 2007 7:55 AM
A brief statement released following Tuesday's meeting of the National Security Council (MGK) indicated that Turkey could resort to military measures in case of not receiving a satisfactory answer to a diplomatic note of protest delivered to the Baghdad government concerning presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

"It has been focused on the note delivered to the Iraqi government concerning measures need to be taken by the Iraqi side against the terrorist threat directed at our country from the north of Iraq as well as on political, economic and other approaches to be assumed from now on," the statement said, while also expressing determination in continuing ongoing military operations against PKK members with strongly-worded expressions.While the powerful MGK -- which brings together the president, top military commanders and government leaders every two months -- also emphasized Turkey’s stance favoring protection of territorial integrity of neighboring Iraq, it didn’t mention the debate on disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Nevertheless, the note to which the MGK referred was delivered upon Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani’s remarks in which he who openly threatened to stir unrest in Turkey’s Southeast.

Barzani, president of the de facto autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, said in remarks broadcast on Saturday that Turkey must not interfere in the Iraqi Kurds’ bid to attach the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish zone in the north, adding that if they were deterred by Turkey, Iraq’s Kurds would retaliate by intervening in Turkey’s Southeast. “We will not let the Turks intervene in Kirkuk,” Barzani said in an interview with the Arab satellite television station Al-Arabiya. “Kirkuk is an Iraqi city with a Kurdish identity, historically and geographically. All the facts establish that Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan.”

On Monday, following a Cabinet meeting, Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Çiçek said Ankara had a legitimate interest in developments in northern Iraq because PKK members used the region as a springboard to launch attacks on military and civilian targets inside Turkey, as he also disclosed that Ankara had delivered a diplomatic note of protest to the Baghdad government over Barzani’s comments via Iraq’s Ambassador to Turkey Sabah Omran. “Northern Iraq is the source of the ethnic-based terror we suffer in Turkey,” Çiçek said after the Cabinet meeting dominated by Barzani’s comments.

Subsequently, late on Monday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani initiated a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during which he expressed his “sadness” over Barzani’s remarks. The very same remarks earlier on Monday prompted Erdoğan to warn Barzani that he would be crushed by his own words. “They should be very careful in their use of words.... otherwise they will be crushed by those words.... Barzani has again exceeded the limits,” Erdoğan said.

Furthermore, Talabani pledged that Iraq would cooperate with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, when reminded by Erdoğan of his own remarks in Riyadh where the two met on the sidelines of an Arab League summit late last month when Talabani said that “the one who is against Turkey is also against Iraq.”

“We’re ready to fight the PKK in line with a joint plan,” Talabani was quoted as saying in response to Erdoğan, who urged urgent action against PKK by the Iraqi side.

Despite Talabani’s efforts to calm down the Turkish government’s anger, as of Tuesday Fuad Hussein, a senior aide to Barzani and head of his presidential office, downplayed Turkey’s reactions to Barzani’s recent remarks at a press conference held in Arbil, the ANKA news agency reported, citing a report by the Peyamner news agency -- an Arbil-based online organization known as the media organ of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). “President Barzani made such a statement in 2002. So this is not something new,” Hussein said.

“We’re not threatening anyone and we don’t accept anyone’s threat to us as well.…We don’t let anyone use a threatening language against the peoples of Iraq and Kurdistan,” he said.

Also Tuesday, it came out that Barzani also challenged the Turkish military by comparing it with the forces of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during the same interview with the Al-Arabiya.

The NTV news channel on Tuesday broadcasted the rest of Barzani’s controversial remarks with Turkish subtitles. In response to the Al-Arabiya correspondent, who reminded him of the power of the Turkish military, Barzani said: “I’m not afraid of their military power. No matter how strong they are, they can’t be stronger than the military of Saddam.”

And when the correspondent said, “But they [Turkey] also a diplomatic power,” Barzani said: “I’m afraid of neither their military power nor of their diplomatic power because they are interfering in another country’s internal affairs. Kirkuk is an Iraqi city that has a Kurdish identity.”

On the same day, Peyamner also reported that the Turkish military forces on Sunday afternoon opened fire on the northern part of Iraq. The agency quoted a villager as saying that the Turkish military hit a point two kilometers away from a village in Zaho, Iraq’s nearest city to Turkey. The agency also cited a peshmerga commander who said that the Turkish artillery units fired the area near the same village for nine times.

Washington reproaches Barzani

Meanwhile the US State Department scolded Barzani, threatening Turkey about sensitive deliberations on the future status of the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Rebuking Barzani, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “We think that those kinds of statements are really unhelpful, and they certainly do not further the goal of greater Turkish-Iraqi cooperation on issues of common concern, including fighting the PKK.”

by more
Wednesday Apr 11th, 2007 7:56 AM
During yesterday’s National Security Council (NSC) meeting, sanctions to be imposed on Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani were discussed. Stating that the operations against the terrorist PKK would continue with determination, the Council underlined the impossibility of reaching an aim through terrorism. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer chaired the meeting for the last time due to his term in office will end in May. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, force commanders, Gendarmerie General Commander and related ministers of the Cabinet attended the meeting. A written statement released after the NSC said that Turkey’s domestic and foreign safety was discussed at the meeting, adding there is no chance for terrorism to result in success. The statement underlined that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will continue with its military operations against the terrorist PKK. Noting that Turkey supports Iraq’s territorial and political integrity, the statement said that Turkey’s note to the Iraqi government and following the steps after the note were discussed during the meeting. /Cumhuriyet/

BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on Wednesday that his government alone set Iraq's foreign policy and it was based on maintaining good ties with its neighbors, an obvious attempt to cool an exchange of heated rhetoric between Turkish leaders and the top official in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region.

The statement released by al-Maliki's office did not say specify any neighbor, but the comments coincided with bitter tit-for-tat remarks by Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and Turkish officials over the fate of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

His message also could be linked to increasingly complicated relations with Iran over the fate of five Iranians captured by U.S. troops in the Iraqi city of Irbil three months ago.

Turkish leaders on Tuesday raised the threat of political and economic sanctions against Iraq if it didn't stop Kurdish separatists from staging attacks across the border. On Monday, Turkey handed a protest note to the Iraqi ambassador demanding immediate action against the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers Party, that has been fighting Turkish troops for decades.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued the demand in reaction to comments by Barzani, leader of the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, who said Iraqi Kurds would retaliate for any Turkish interference in northern Iraq by backing Kurds in Turkey's southeast.