Turkish Parliament backs attacks against PKK terrorists in Iraq

ANKARA (Oct. 17, 2007) - Turkey's parliament has given permission for the government to launch military operations into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdistan Workers' Party terrorists (PKK).


Turkey will exercise its right of self-defense, and right to take action against terrorism and terrorist activities. 

The Turkish Parliament today granted authorization for a cross-border offensive to strike terrorists and bases in northern Iraq.

Turkish lawmakers voted 507 to 19 in favor of the motion.

The authorization gives the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a year in which it can send troops across the border to fight terrorists who carry out attacks in Turkey from northern Iraq.

* Note: Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union and United States, respected media sources in the EU and USA refer to the PKK as "rebels," "militants," "freedom fighters," and "guerillas," thus undermining the common fight against terrorism.

* Note (for Turkish readers): AB ve ABD’ye göre "terörist," basına göre "özgürlük savaşçısı," (PKK basına göre: "isyancılar," "savaşcılar,"  "militanlar," "asiler," "ayrılıkçı Kürt grup, "aşırı Kürtler," "direnişçi Kürtler," ve "yasaklanmış Kürt partisi.")

AB ve ABD PKK’yı terör listelerine alalı yıllar oldu; ancak Avrupa ve ABD basını PKK’ya hala “terör örgütü” ifadesini yakıştırmıyor. Bu çifte standart "terörle global savaşı" engelliyor.

Turkish warplanes targeting PKK bases bomb northern Iraq

Turkey's military chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, announced Monday that "America gave intelligence." He added, "But more importantly, America last night opened the [Iraqi] airspace to us. By opening the airspace, America gave its approval to this operation."

Turkish jet fighters hit terrorists targets in northern Iraq early Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007

The Turkish military said it had attacked targets of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with the approval of U.S. occupying forces in Iraq. The United States said only that it had been informed in advance of the operation.

Turkish ground forces also shelled areas where the rebels were based, an army statement said. Turkey's NTV television said 50 aircraft had taken part in the three-hour operation.

The Turkish army has up to 100,000 troops near the Iraqi border, threatening a major operation that Washington fears could destabilize one of the most peaceful areas of Iraq.

It was given authorization by the cabinet last month to conduct cross-border operations against the PKK, which uses northern Iraq as a base for attacks inside Turkey.

"In opening Iraqi airspace to this action last night America gave its approval to the action," the head of Turkey's General Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, was quoted by the Anatolian news agency as saying.  He added, "But more importantly, America last night opened the [Iraqi] airspace to us. By opening the airspace, America gave its approval to this operation." Dec. 16, 2007

Turkey says air strikes in Iraq hit their targets

Monday Dec.17, 2007 Reuters.com 

By Selcuk Gokoluk

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey said on Monday its warplanes hit their Kurdish guerrilla targets in weekend raids on northern Iraq that raised fears of destabilisation in one of Iraq's few peaceful regions.

The EU urged Turkey to show restraint after the raids, which officials in northern Iraq said hit villages, killed one woman and forced hundreds to flee.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about reports of civilian casualties, and urged Baghdad and Ankara to work together to tackle Kurdish guerrillas using northern Iraq as a base for attacks in Turkey.

Dismissing reports the raids hit villages, Turkey's General Staff said its targets were fixed "after it was established that they were definitely not civilian residential areas."

The three-hour offensive, reported to involve 50 fighter jets, also included ground forces shelling suspected positions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

"According to initial valuations, all the planned targets were hit accurately," the General Staff said on its Web site.

The Turkish army has massed up to 100,000 troops near the border, raising fears that a major cross-border operation could further destabilise Iraq and fuel ethnic and sectarian tensions.

However, initial responses to the weekend raids from Turkey's main allies stopped well short of condemnation.

The United States, Turkey's main military ally, has said it was informed of the raids in advance but did not authorise them.

A Pentagon spokesman also said Washington had given Turkey intelligence to track Kurdish fighters hiding in Iraq, but would not say whether it gave precise targets used in the raids.

The EU, which Turkey is hoping to join, voiced concern.

It called on Turkey "to exercise restraint, to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq and refrain from taking any military action that could undermine regional peace and stability."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban "is concerned that Turkey has launched air strikes into northern Iraq yesterday and that there have been reports of possible civilian casualties," spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

"At the same time the Secretary-General is concerned at the continued intrusion of PKK elements carrying out terrorist attacks in Turkey from northern Iraq," she added.

Ankara believes 3,000 PKK guerrillas are based in camps in northern Iraq and the government has come under domestic pressure to act tough after a series of deadly attacks against Turkish army posts in recent months.

The General Staff released black and white footage of what it said were precision air strikes against PKK targets, which the Turkish media said included a PKK communications centre in the Qandil mountains and other important PKK camps.

Analysts doubt air strikes will crush the PKK, but say they are symbolically important.

Iraq summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad and protested against the bombing.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said he wanted Ankara to coordinate future cross-border strikes with Iraq.

The PKK warned the Iraqi government and the United States not to cooperate with Turkey in its attacks, and said it could hurt Western interests in the Middle East.

"If colonialist powers in Kurdistan are continued to be supported, it should be known that the Kurdish people have the power to spoil the balances in the Middle East and hurt the interests of Western powers," the PKK said in a statement carried by the Firat news agency.

Analysts say a major Turkish land incursion is unlikely right now, since many Kurdish rebels have moved into Iran and the weather in northern Iraq is worsening.

Ankara blames the PKK, which seeks a separate Kurdish homeland in southeastern Turkey, for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed struggle in 1984.

(Reporting by Daren Butler and Paul de Bendern; Editing by Myra MacDonald)


Over 150 PKK killed in Turkish Dec 16 Iraq strikes

ANKARA, Dec. 25 2007 - Turkey's General Staff said between 150 and 175 Kurdish guerrillas were killed in a large-scale air offensive on Dec. 16 that targeted rebel camps in northern Iraq.

The PKK's command centre, battle units, shelters, training camps in northern Iraq were hit in the same offensive, the General Staff said in a statement. Many wounded PKK members were brought to hospitals in northern Iraqi cities after the air strikes, the statement said.

Turkey ready to stage new raids against PKK in northern Iraq

ANKARA, Dec. 29 2007 — Turkey said Friday it would continue its military operations against Kurdish terrorists in northern Iraq, after several attacks this month against members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"It was decided that the operations carried out with success by our armed forces will be pursued with determination," the country's national security council (MGK) said in a statement published on its Internet site.

The council stated that Turkish forces had inflicted heavy losses against the PKK rebels and largely destroyed their supply and communications systems, while "the zones with civilian populations have not experienced any losses."

The MGK statement comes after three bombing raids the army says it has launched since December 16 and which it claims have killed more than 160 rebels.

Turkey has massed up to 100,000 soldiers in its southeast near the Iraqi border, and in October the government secured a one-year parliamentary authorisation for cross-border military action to hunt down PKK terrorists. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.


Major success against terrorist group

Turkish military says further operations in the region will be carried out, using the same determination as previously.

NTV -  Dec. 25 2007

ANKARA - Military strikes against camps and bases of the terrorist group the PKK between December 16 and 22 caused up to 175 casualties, according to a statement issued by the Turkish General Staff on Tuesday.

This figure does not include members of the PKK who, to use the term used in the General Staff communiqué, had been rendered ineffective by attacks on hide outs and caves during this period, or the dozens of injured terrorists who were taken to hospitals in Irbil, Raniyah, Kaladiza and Choman.

During recent cross border operations, three command and two communications centres, two training centres, nine logistics centres, 182 hide-outs/caves, 10 anti aircraft defence sites and 14 ammunition storages depots belonging to the PKK were completely destroyed, the statement said.

The General Staff statement also denied all allegations made during an Iraqi press conference on December 24 that Iraqi civilians had been killed due to Turkish attacks.

Such allegations do not represent the truth as no civilians were the target of Turkish Armed Forces, the Turkish General Staff statement said.


Over 150 PKK killed in Turkish December 16 Iraq strikes

ANKARA (Reuters Dec 25, 2007) - Turkey's military said on Tuesday that between 150 and 175 Kurdish guerrillas were killed in a large-scale air offensive on December 16 that targeted rebel camps in northern Iraq, the first in a series of cross-border attacks.

Turkey launched the offensive, involving some 50 war planes, against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) bases after receiving intelligence and clearance from the United States.

NATO-member Turkey says it has the right to use force to combat the PKK, which uses the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq as a launchpad to mount attacks in which they have killed dozens of Turkish troops in recent months.

The General Staff said in a statement more than 200 targets were hit on December 16, including three command centers, two communications centers, two training camps, nine logistical areas, 182 living quarters, and 14 arsenals.

"All targets that were taken under fire were hit with full success in the air operation, in which most developed target detection and strike control systems were used."

The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, has denied any of its members were killed in the strikes.

The General Staff said many wounded PKK members were brought to hospitals in northern Iraqi cities after the air strikes. It added that the 150-175 figure of killed guerrillas did not include those killed when their camps, many in caves, collapsed.

The military provided black and white video and still images of laser guided missiles hitting targets as well as destroyed buildings, but offered no images of casualties or close-ups of the camps destroyed.

Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group began its armed rebellion for a separate homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. Turkey says some 3,000 PKK members are based in the mountains of northern Iraq. Turkey's government authorize the military to launch cross-border operations following what it said were insufficient steps by Iraqi authorities to crack down on the PKK.

Turkish warplanes bomb PKK

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish guerrilla targets in northern Iraq close to the Turkish border on Tuesday Dec. 25 in a new cross-border attack, a senior military source told Reuters.

The military source, who declined to be named, said the jets launched the limited strikes after spotting suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas while on a reconnaissance flight along the border.

U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Washington Post - Staff Writers Ann Scott Tyson and Robin Wright

The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials.

U.S. military personnel have set up a center for sharing intelligence in Ankara, the Turkish capital, providing imagery and other immediate information gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the separatists' mountain redoubts, the officials said. A senior administration official said the goal of the U.S. program is to identify the movements and activities of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting to create an autonomous enclave in Turkey.

The United States is "essentially handing them their targets," one U.S. military official said. The Turkish military then decides whether to act on the information and notifies the United States, the official said.

"They said, 'We want to do something.' We said, 'Okay, it's your decision,' " the official said yesterday, although he denied that the United States had explicitly approved the strikes.

Sunday's airstrikes provoked outrage in Baghdad, particularly among Kurdish members of the country's leadership. Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government, which administers three northern Iraqi provinces, called the attack "a violation of Iraq's sovereignty." He blamed the U.S. military, which controls Iraqi airspace, for allowing Turkish warplanes to cross the border. The Iraqi parliament also condemned the attacks yesterday.

The American role in aiding Turkey, a NATO ally, could complicate U.S. diplomatic initiatives in Iraq, particularly efforts to push Iraqi political leaders to enact legislation aimed at promoting political reconciliation.

The cooperation with Turkey also places the United States in the position of aiding a country that refused to allow U.S. forces to use its territory to open a northern front against the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It also alienates Iraq's Kurdish minority, whose leaders strongly support the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

But persistent attacks in Turkey by PKK rebels operating from bases in the Qandil mountains have presented a thorny dilemma for U.S. policymakers. Turkey has threatened to mount a full-scale, cross-border incursion to clear out PKK camps in northern Iraq. That could effectively open a new front in the Iraq war and disrupt the flow of supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq, which receives 70 percent of its air cargo and a third of its fuel through Turkey.

The intelligence cooperation comes as senior U.S. military and Pentagon officials have engaged in talks with their Turkish counterparts to produce a more comprehensive strategy for combating the PKK, according to a senior military official familiar with the discussions. In addition to providing targets, U.S. military officials said they have encouraged the Turks to employ nonmilitary measures against the PKK and to hold a dialogue with the Iraqi government.

U.S. intelligence allowed the Turkish military to inflict what it called "significant" losses on a group of scores of Kurdish rebels in Iraq in an operation on Dec. 1. It was also decisive in another Turkish strike on Sunday, when Iraqi officials said Turkish warplanes pounded Kurdish villages deep in northern Iraq, killing one woman and forcing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes in the largest aerial assault from Turkey this year.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier stated that a dearth of "actionable intelligence" was preventing more aggressive actions against the separatists. Senior military officials acknowledged that the PKK, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, had not been not a priority for the U.S. military in Iraq as it grappled with a persistent insurgency and sectarian fighting.

"We want to help the Turks with the PKK," Gates said in October. "If we were to come up with specific information, that we and the Iraqis would be prepared to do the appropriate thing and . . . provide that information," he said. Until now, however, officials had not provided details of the intelligence provided or how it was gathered. The officials, citing the sensitivity of the subject, spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

Turkey, according to U.S. officials, was eager to have the information. "They wanted to go after them," a U.S. military official said. The intelligence center was set up in Ankara with the help of U.S. military personnel. In addition, scarce U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles were diverted from other parts of Iraq to search for PKK locations in the mountainous area along Iraq's border with Turkey.

Senior Pentagon officials, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq; Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. John Craddock, head of the U.S. European Command, began talks last month with the Turkish military on joint counterinsurgency efforts against the PKK that would incorporate diplomatic, political and financial measures.

The United States is also trying to establish a regional dialogue among Turkey, Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdish regional government.

U.S. officials said Kurdish regional forces in northern Iraq recently closed PKK offices and set up roadblocks in an attempt to cut off supplies to rebel camps.

The high-level talks are a response to a pledge made by President Bush to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 5 to address a rash of cross-border incursions into Turkey. Ankara deployed up to 100,000 troops along Turkey's border with Iraq after more than 40 soldiers and civilians were killed in PKK attacks this fall.

Erdogan told reporters before a trip to the United States last month that Turkey has "run out of patience with the terrorist attacks being staged from northern Iraq" and said relations between the United States and Turkey were "undergoing a serious test."

But a senior U.S. administration official said the "deal on intelligence" and military visits had created "a sense that we're in a different phase of this relationship. The Turks want to see how this works."

Special correspondent Zaid Sabah in Baghdad contributed to this report.

US Reacts Cautiously to Turkish Air Strikes in Iraq

The Bush administration is encouraging greater coordination between Turkey and Iraq, following Turkish air strikes targeting Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

The State Department declined to comment specifically on Turkey's air strikes, widely reported to be the largest attack on Kurdish rebels in years. 

Spokesman Tom Casey stated the United States continues to believe that militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK, cannot be tolerated.

"We remain concerned by the threat posed by the PKK to Turkey, to Iraq and to the United States, and we think it is important that everything be done to deal with that threat," said Tom Casey.

Voice of America,  Dec. 17. 2007 

Senior Turkish diplomat says U.S. intelligence shared with Turkey

Turkey's Ambassador to Washington, Nabi Şensoy, told reporters Wednesday that about 50 Turkish fighter planes were involved in two waves of air strikes early Sunday morning against PKK targets inside northern Iraq.

"As a result there is heavy damage to the infrastructure of PKK presence in the Qandil Mountains and in the [PKK] camps along the Turkish border," he said.

Ambassador Sensoy said the success of the attack was due to the intelligence the United States shared with Turkey, but he would not confirm if or when U.S. military officials were informed of the strikes.

The White House said Tuesday the United States continues to share intelligence on the PKK with both Turkey and Iraq. But officials refused comment on reports that U.S. intelligence helped Turkish authorities target the PKK.

Iraq's parliament has condemned the attacks. An Iraqi government spokesman called the airstrike "unacceptable" and warned it would lead to "complicated problems." Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq went further, saying the attack was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and they accused the U.S. of approving it because it controls Iraq's airspace.

Relations between the United States and Turkey have been strained in recent months over the PKK and other issues, but Ambassador Sensoy says they have improved following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington in early November. He says the intelligence sharing that led to Sunday's raid is the first tangible result of that renewed cooperation.

But the ambassador says this week's raids against the PKK are not likely to be the last.

"It was declared in the past that whatever necessary will be done," he said. "As I said, this is not a once and for all operation, but I think it has served its purpose, because of the fact that all of the targets have been hit with precision - that's what we know at this point. And the ultimate target is the elimination of the PKK terrorist organization in the north of the country, and Turkey will do whatever is necessary to achieve that."

Ambassador Şensoy says Sunday's raid, and another small incursion on Tuesday, send a strong message to the PKK that the Turkish military is capable of tracking them down wherever they may be.

Voice of America, Margaret Besheer - Dec. 19. 2007  VOA News.com 


Turkey's U.S.-Backed Strike in Iraq

Time Magazine - Andrew Purvis - Monday, Dec. 17, 2007  

The official U.S. line is that Washington did not approve Turkey's Sunday air strike on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq. But the U.S. does control the skies over Iraq and the Pentagon did open airspace over Iraq for at least three hours to Turkish warplanes. It was also informed of the raids beforehand, according to an American spokesperson in Ankara. "By opening its airspace, America gave its approval to the operation," Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit said. He also said U.S. intelligence provided targeting information for the attack. The U.S. may not have formally approved Sunday's operation, but it did everything short of that. In fact, the raids "show a degree of tactical cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey that we have not seen since the beginning of the Iraq war," according to Mark Parris, a former U.S.ambassador to Turkey now at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. Washington may see such raids as the best way to prevent tensions between Turkey and Iraq from spilling over into a broader conflict.

Turkish leaders say they were pleased with the air strike, the first by Ankara's warplanes on Kurdish targets in northern Iraq since Turkey passed a resolution approving such cross-border raids to pursue militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) back in October. The PKK has been waging a separatist campaign against Turkish security forces since the 1970s, most recently attacking Turkish targets from bases within Iraq. On Sunday, the PKK said five of its militants were killed; according to Iraqi officials, at least one woman civilian was killed as well. Meanwhile, hundreds have been forced to flee their homes. "This operation, which was carried out under night conditions, was a success," the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said. The Turkish struggle against the PKK "will continue inside and outside Turkey," he added. But Iraqi officials have denounced the raids, summoning the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad for consultations and calling for a cessation of attacks that "cause harm to innocent people."

Turkey has been urging the U.S. to help crack down on PKK militants inside Iraq itself since 2003 (the U.S. state department classifies the PKK as a terrorist organization). Those calls became more urgent following the rash of attacks last October by PKK militants that left some two dozen Turkish soldiers dead in the course of two weeks, resulting in public outrage in the streets of Turkey's cities. The U.S. declined to send its own troops. And so too did the Iraqi Kurdish administration. The crisis placed the U.S. in a diplomatic and strategic vice between two of its closest allies in the region.

However, following a meeting between the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and President Bush at the White House on November 5, the U.S. pledged to provide ongoing intelligence to Turkey to aid in that country's pursuit of "a common enemy." The President, said a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Ankara, "made a commitment to enhance our cooperation by intelligence sharing and we are doing that and we will continue to do that."

Analysts say the weekend operation, which took place before dawn on Sunday, appears to have been triggered by intelligence on the whereabouts of key Kurdish targets and is probably not the beginning of a wider offensive. Nevertheless, it was by far the largest Turkish incursion to date. Previous operations over the past six weeks have involved some cross-border shelling and, in one case, helicopter attacks. This was the first to include warplanes. With up to 50 aircraft involved, it was also one of the largest Turkey has launched in years. The operation targeted several villages near the Turkish border and in the Qandil mountains, about 60 miles from the Turkish frontier, straddling the border between Iraq and Iran. Turkish newspapers reported that a PKK commander was killed in the raid, but that report could not be confirmed. Turkey said it chose its targets "with sensitivity" based on intelligence that there were no civilians in the area. "Broadcasts that civilians were fired on " said General Buyukanit, only "serve the purposes of the PKK terrorist organization."

The Turkish government had been threatening to send its own troops across the border to crack down on PKK bases inside Iraq since last October's attacks on Turkish troops. Washington and Baghdad at the time urged restraint, fearing that a large-scale incursion into Iraq by Turkish troops would trigger a broader clash not with the PKK but with soldiers under the command of the Iraqi Kurdish administration, thus destabilizing the one part of Iraq that has managed to avoid civil conflict so far.

Now, says Parris, "the U.S. has finally closed the gap between what we have been saying about the PKK and what we are actually doing." Turkish editorial views of U.S. policy has markedly improved in recent weeks. Turkey for its part has found a way to ease public pressure to act without raising the risk of a wider conflict. But while the attacks appear to be achieving a diplomatic objective, the military goal of rooting out the PKK from the high mountains of northern Iraq will likely prove a good deal more elusive.

Turkish troops cross into Iraq to fight PKK

Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq in a series of small-scale raids against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers's Party (PKK) terrorists, as part of an operation that follows the large air strike over the weekend. Between 300 and 500 soldiers crossed the border.

US enables Turkish bombing of Iraq - Says Turkish raids 'in keeping' with previous raids
The US State Department said Monday that Turkish air raids on PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) bases in northern Iraq appeared "in keeping with" past strikes. When asked if the strikes were "appropriate," Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, reiterated the US position stating:  "We face a common enemy -- Turkey, the United States, and Iraq -- from the PKK."

Casey further stated, "It's a terrorist organization and we certainly want to see actions taken that put it out of business," he said. "That said, we want to make sure that the actions that are taken are done in an appropriate way, that hit only those targets that are PKK and avoid civilian casualties," he said.

Casey added that it was important that any actions "should be coordinated to the extent possible between Turkey and Iraq."

In a related development, Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, became the first U.S. official to formally announce that Washington was providing the Turkish military with "actionable intelligence" in the fight against the PKK. In defense terminology, actionable intelligence means information on which an immediate military action can be based.Whitman said the Pentagon was providing information that would be "helpful in dealing with this insurgent terrorist threat." When asked by reporters if his remark meant that the Pentagon had indeed provided the Turkish military with such "actionable intelligence," Whitman said, "That's probably O.K."

The head of Turkey's General Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, stated that Washington gave intelligence for the raids and opened up northern Iraqi airspace. The Turkish general staff said warplanes had carried out air strikes early Sunday against PKK positions in northern Iraq. Artillery pounded the targets after the air raids. 

In October the Turkish parliament granted permission for the government to launch a major military operation.

Intelligence center in Ankara

Meanwhile the Washington Post reported that U.S. military personnel have set up a center for sharing intelligence in Ankara, the Turkish capital, providing imagery and other immediate information gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the terrorists' mountain hideouts, in a story published yesterday. “Scarce U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles were diverted from other parts of Iraq to search for PKK locations in the mountainous area along Iraq's border with Turkey,” the paper said.  

* * *

In Iraq the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish government refused to meet Condoleezza Rice after America supported Turkish air and land attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. Rice later flew from Iraq to Turkey where she spent the evening at the Turkish Incirlik airbase.

The decision of Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani not to meet with Rice came after two days of attacks, first by Turkish planes that bombed positions in the mountains, and then by Turkish troops who entered about two miles into Iraq before withdrawing.

In Washington, Dana Perino, a White House spokesman, said that America regarded the PKK as a "threat" and was working with regional allies, including Turkey, to deal with it. "I can tell you that of course we are co-ordinating with the Turkish and Iraqi authorities in the area," she said.

"The PKK is a threat to Turkey, to Iraq, and to the United States. So we continue to share information, share intelligence, with them. The Turks have moved forward with our co-ordination and in communication with the Iraqis in order to eradicate that threat."

Speaking during her visit to Iraq, Miss Rice said that the United States, Iraq and Turkey had a "common interest" in dealing with secessionist PKK rebels. But she said that Turkey's efforts must not destabilise the region. While stressing the attacks were the result of a "Turkish decision", she implied that the American armed forces, which control the airspace over Iraq, had given tacit approval. (Dec. 17, 2007)

Army: Night-time air strikes a succuss

The Turkish military confirms that the operation proved its night-time air strike capabilities.

All pre-designated outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets inside northern Iraq successfully hit during air strikes.

ANKARA (Dec. 18, 2007) 

A day following the military's cross-border operation into northern Iraq to wipe out outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases, the military brass analyzed the results on the field as well as the operational capability of the Turkish Armed Forces.

The office of the Chief of Staff yesterday announced that all designated targets were eliminated, according to initial inspections. Warplanes hit the Kandil mountains and the Zap, Avaşin and Hakurk encampments and reached as far as 110 kilometers into northern Iraq to show that even the Kandil mountains are not beyond the military's reach.

Losses on the PKK side are still being calculated, and Turkish forces did not suffer any casualties. The Turkish military also tested its coordination skills for a comprehensive night-time air strike that involved F-16s that used the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night system for the first time (LANTIRN) and F-4s that provided cover. Laser-guided bombs were also used against PKK targets. 

The office of the Chief of Staff handed out real-time camera images of bombings recorded by planes that laser pointed targets, as well as images on the results on the aftermath of the operation.  

“Targets were added after sound confirmation that they were out of residential areas,” the office of the Chief of Staff said. “Not a single civilian target was hit,” said Büyükanıt.

PKK headquarters destroyed

Local reports confirmed that crucial PKK targets were hit and serious damage was inflicted. The private NTV channel said the PKK's central headquarters in Levje village was wiped out and six PKK members were killed, according to northern Iraqi Kurdish sources. The death toll of terrorists may be higher, as the local Kurds indicate that terrorists left mountaintops to settle in more convenient hillsides.

Büyükanıt urged the media to focus more on the message delivered by the operation rather than its results.

“Even if it's winter, even if there is snow, even if they live in caves, we'll find them and hit them,” he said. “These operations will continue all the time.”

Büyükanıt said that United States intelligence was used during the military's attack against terrorist targets. “America gave intelligence,” Kanal D television quoted Büyükanit as saying.

“But more importantly, America last night opened [Iraqi] airspace to us. By opening the airspace, America gave its approval to this operation.”

Washington will continue sharing intelligence

Concerning Turkish air strikes, the U.S. State Department said Washington respected Turkey's right to defend itself against the PKK terrorists.

"It's the Turkish decision. We respect Turkey's right to defend itself against terrorism," Chase Beamer, a spokesman for the State Department's European bureau told the Turkish Daily News."The PKK, as a common threat for Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. must be eliminated," Beamer said. He said the U.S. was committed to increased intelligence sharing with Turkey, as agreed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President George W. Bush at a White House meeting in early November.

"We understand that the targets were PKK targets. We understand that no villages were targeted," Beamer said.

Beamer said he could not confirm the reports about Iraqi claims of civilian casualties, but added that "of course, if there's any loss of life, it's a tragedy."

Pentagon: U.S. was informed before Turkish air raid in N Iraq

The United States was informed by Turkey before its planned air raids in northern Iraq against PKK bases took place over the weekend, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

"We had ample notification of the air strikes by the Turkish Air Force against PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) positions in northern Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said, confirming for the first time that Washington knew of Ankara's plans.

"It was communicated to us through the Ankara coordination center, this has been opened for some months now, in which you have Turkish personnel along with U.S. military personnel working to share intelligence."

Turkey's Ambassador to the United States Nabi Sensoy said on Wednesday that it was American intelligence that made Turkey's latest raids in northern Iraq on PKK bases possible.

It was reported that Turkish chief of staff General Yasar Buyukanit said earlier in the week that the United States gave the green light for Sunday's air raids by providing "intelligence" and opening Iraqi airspace.

Security operations are underway in southeastern and eastern Turkey as 100,000 Turkish troops have massed along Turkish-Iraqi borders in preparations for a possible cross-border operation to crush about 3,000-strong PKK terrorists.

In addition, Turkish troops entered the Iraqi territories in the northern Kurdish autonomous region early on Tuesday,

The United States, supporting Ankara's effort to fight the outlawed PKK operating at Turkey-Iraq border area, declined to condemn Turkey's unilateral incursion into Iraq on the PKK.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, launched an armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey in 1984. Sunday's attack came a month after the U.S. promised to share intelligence with Turkey to help combat the PKK. Turkey has massed tens of thousands of troops along its border with Iraq. In October, the Turkish parliament voted in favor of authorizing the government to order a cross-border operation against the group.

 December 20, 2007

Turkey provided U.S. with ample warning

WASHINGTON — Turkey provided the United States with ample warning that it was making an incursion into Iraq, State and Defense Departments officials stated on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007.

The question of whether Turkish authorities gave their counterparts adequate warning percolated after some American officials in Washington and Baghdad said the two countries needed to improve communication, administration officials said. While the United States provided Turkey with the intelligence to go after Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, there has been some mild grumbling from the State Department that not everyone up the chain of command was adequately informed beforehand. 

Turkish troops carried out a brief attack into northern Iraq overnight Monday. The operation took place two days after Turkey carried out broad airstrikes in northern Iraq against the group on Dec. 16. The United States provided intelligence and opened Iraqi airspace for the strikes, American and Turkish officials said. The Turkish moves have placed the United States in a delicate position between Turkey, a NATO ally, and an Iraqi government that has refused to act against the Kurdish militants.

The senior Bush administration official said that, over all, American officials were satisfied with the coordination between the United States and Turkey. The United States, Iraq and Turkey have an office in Ankara, the Turkish capital, to share intelligence.

“Let me put it this way,” said a Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, using the initials by which the Kurdistan Workers Party is known. “We had ample notification of the airstrikes by the Turkish Air Force over the weekend on P.K.K. positions in northern Iraq. I can sit here today and tell you emphatically there was indeed notification provided to us prior to the bombing — bombings — that it was communicated to us through an apparatus that we have set up in Ankara, the Ankara Coordination Center.”
Source: New York Times, Helene Cooper - Dec. 20, 2007

Pentagon News Briefing 
Subject: Turkish Air Strikes on PKK bases in Northern Iraq.
*Question concerning Turkish military informing U.S. military on operations (as a result of news accounts that top U.S. commanders in Iraq were angered and not informed in advance).

December 19, 2007 

Turkey pre-warned US of raids on Kurd rebels: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (AFP Dec. 20, 2007) — Turkey informed the United States well in advance before launching weekend air raids into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebel bases, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

"We had ample notification of the air strikes by the Turkish Air Force against PKK (Kurdish separatist group) positions in northern Iraq," spokesman Geoff Morrell said, confirming for the first time that Washington knew of Ankara's plans.

"It was communicated to us through the Ankara coordination center, this has been opened for some months now, in which you have Turkish personnel along with US military personnel working to share intelligence."

He told reporters the coordination had been "adequate" and said the Pentagon had nothing to complain about.

Terrorism / International Law / The Right of Hot Pursuit and Cross-Border Operations

AP on Turkish "Hot Pursuit"

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. and Turkish military officials were working Wednesday to streamline procedures for any future attacks against rebels in northern Iraq after top American officials in Baghdad were angered about how Sunday's Turkish bombing unfolded.

Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after the Kurdish rebels, and a "coordination center" has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, officials have said.

But State Department and Defense Department officials in Washington and Baghdad said top U.S. commanders in Iraq didn't know about the incursion plan until the first of two waves of Turkish planes were already on their way — either crossing the border or already over it.

The Turkish military did not inform the American military as quickly as had been agreed. That meant the U.S. had to rush to clear air space for the incursion, two defense officials and a State Department official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

One Washington official said the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, was angered by the development. Another said American diplomats complained to the Turks about it.

The Turks replied they were chasing rebels and there had not been time for notification earlier, according to a senior State Department official. Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment.

"They said it was hot pursuit," the U.S. official said.

"There are supposed to be coordinating mechanisms for this kind of thing with us and the Iraqis, and whatever happens in the heat of the moment, they have to tell us in a reasonable and timely manner," the official added. "We have told them it would be extremely helpful if they were more forthcoming on the notification."

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman Wednesday disputed there was a problem, saying "the right people knew at the time." He declined to elaborate.

None of the officials gave details about precisely what procedures had been agreed to. But one noted that the process is complex because it involves Turkey, Iraq, the U.S. and potentially neighboring governments such as Tehran because some rebel camps are near the Iranian border.

For the U.S. alone, the issue cuts across two military commands — the European Command that takes in Turkey and the Central Command, which is managing the war in Iraq.

"It starts in Ankara (with the Turkish military informing the U.S. military) ... then goes up the chain, then the air space is de-conflicted," or cleared, one Washington official said. "It was the Turks who on the first go-around did not give the desired lead time."

It was unclear what the Turkish procedure is for informing Iraq when it plans to move into Iraqi territory. But in Sunday's case, the American military in Baghdad ended up notifying the Iraqi government that planes had already been sent to strike targets of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. 
Source: Associated Press, By Pauline Jelinek - Dec. 20, 2007 Associated Press 

Turkey: U.S. helped in PKK attack

CNN ISTANBUL, Turkey  (Dec. 20, 2007) -- Turkey's ambassador to the United States said Wednesday his country's air strikes this week against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq were the result of real-time, actionable intelligence provided by the United States.

"No doubt this was possible because of information provided by the United States of America," Amb. Nabi Sensoy told reporters. Sensoy said the operations were "tangible results" of enhanced cooperation between the two countries since a visit to Washington last month by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which U.S. President George W. Bush promised the United States would do all it could to help Turkey fight the threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), including providing intelligence on PKK targets.

The PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey, with some of its attacks staged from locations in northern Iraq. The United States and European Union consider the group a terrorist organization.

Responding to reports that Turkey didn't give the United States enough notice before the attack, he said the United States was informed by the Turkish military about the operation and the two sides "are in constant contact." Although it will take time to assess the damage to the PKK and the casualties, Sensoy said "there is no doubt" the PKK infrastructure has been severely weakened. "This is not a once and for all operation, but I think it has served its purpose because all targets have been hit," he said. "The ultimate target is the elimination of the PKK operation."

Iraq's U.S.-backed government condemned the Turkish raids, saying they "add insult to injury." The head of northern Iraq's Kurdish regional government boycotted a Baghdad meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to protest U.S. support for the Turkish attacks. The United States has been pushing for tri-lateral cooperation with the government of Iraq, but Sensoy said such cooperation "had not produced any tangible results" to date.

Erdogan called Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Tuesday, Sensoy said. Zebari told Erdogan that the Iraqis understand Turkish concerns about the PKK, and that the Iraqi government doesn't want the group on its soil. "This shows we are all speaking the same language that the PKK must be eliminated," Sensoy said. But he blasted the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, which he said is not living up to its responsibility to crack down on the PKK.

"The fact is that the PKK presence in northern Iraq could not have survived in northern Iraq without some assistance of course," he said. "The regional government must assume its responsibility." Sensoy added that Turkey was "puzzled" by the Kurdish response to Turkish concerns, because Turkey was "very helpful to Iraqi Kurds during the first Gulf War." "We didn't get the cooperation we thought we deserved from the Kurdish regional government," he said. "Our expectations have not been fulfilled by the northern authorities so far." He did note that there have been "some signs" of increased responsibility by the KRG in recent weeks, possibly a result of US pressure. Turkey wants the KRG to stop giving logistical support to the PKK, stop giving the group airtime on its broadcast networks and ban it from creating "front parties" to take part in Kurdish elections, he said.

Sensoy said that the United States has promised to send an inspector to northern Iraq to investigate charges that U.S. weapons were ending up in the hands of PKK rebels. Sensoy said that Turkish "resentment" toward the United States over a perceived lack of support on the PKK issue and a House committee vote declaring the Ottoman-era killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians a "genocide," a sensitive topic among Turks, had subsided and the two countries remain "friends and allies" that cooperate on many issues.

Turkey stages new air attack on PKK terrorist bases in Iraq

"Turkish Air Force warplanes struck important targets of the PKK/KONGRA-GEL terror group in northern Iraq" stated a General Staff statement, posted on its website www.tsk.mil.tr. 

ANKARA  (Dec. 22, 2007) — Turkey's military said it attacked Kurdish separatist terrorsts in northern Iraq Saturday for the third time in less than a week, bombing and shelling positions and warning more will follow. It gave no details on targets, saying further information would be given next week and that it would carry out more operations despite harsh winter conditions in the mountainous region. Actions over recent weeks had left "hundreds of terrorists" dead, the military added. The Turkish television channel NTV said the raids were in the Amadiyah area of northern Iraq. 

Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish separatist terrorsts targets in northern Iraq on Saturday in a new cross-border offensive, the General Staff said. 

The Turkish military said the offensive against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside Turkey, and across the border in northern Iraq, would continue.

"The PKK will understand through experience that northern Iraq is not a safe place and they will understand once again that they have no chance against the Turkish military," the General Staff statement said.

Turkey says it has the right to use force to combat separatist rebels who shelter in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, from where they plan attacks in which thousands of  civilians and Turkish troops have been killed over the years.

The Turkish military said its ground forces fired on the same PKK targets two hours after the aerial bombardment.

According to news reports military sources in southeast Turkey said at least 10 warplanes participated in the air offensive, targeting approximately five areas where the PKK are believed to take refuge during the winter months.

After a flurry of diplomatic activity, Iraq has promised to rein in the PKK. In November US President George W. Bush said Washington would provide Ankara with information on rebel movements from its satellites. Turkish chief of staff General Yasar Buyukanit stated that the United States approved the recent air raids on December 16 by providing "intelligence" and opening Iraqi airspace.

NATO-member Turkey has stepped up its offensive against Kurdish terrorists based in northern Iraq over the past week, launching two offensives, one involving 50 fighter jets on Dec. 16 and the other involving several hundred ground troops two days later. U.S. intelligence shared with Turkey led to the Dec. 16 bombing raids, Turkey's ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday. The General Staff stated that hundreds of PKK guerrillas were eliminated in the recent operations.
(AFP / Reuters / Turkish news sources)

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) Dec. 23, 2007 — Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq on Saturday in the third confirmed cross-border offensive by Turkish forces in less than a week, the military said.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara said it was informed before the assault took place, but gave no further information. The United States and Iraq both have urged Turkey to avoid a major operation in the area, fearing it could destabilize what has been the calmest region in Iraq.

The bombing lasted nearly a half-hour on Saturday afternoon, and was followed by shelling from inside Turkish borders, the military said in a statement posted on its Web site.

Iraqi President Tells Turkey not to expect much help from Iraqi forces in fighting PKK

International Herald Tribune (Oct. 17, 2007) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani cautioned Wednesday that Turkey should not expect much help in fighting PKK rebels from bogged-down Iraqi security forces.

Talabani, who is an ethnic Kurd, spoke hours before the Turkish parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorize a possible cross-border offensive to chase separatists in the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

"The Iraqi government can't fight against the PKK with its armed forces, because we are now occupied with maintaining and establishing security and peace," Talabani said in Paris. "We need our security forces for peace in the streets of Baghdad — not in the Kurdish mountains."

Talabani was in Paris for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

He said he hoped the "wisdom" of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders "will be so active that there will be no military intervention" — despite one being authorized.

"We have asked the PKK to stop fighting, to end the so-called military activity," Talabani said. Otherwise, they should "please leave our country."

PKK attacks trigger public outrage as parliament approves cross-border offensive

The PKK, which has been officially recognized as a terrorist organization by Washington, the European Union, and NATO, has fought Turkish forces since 1984. It is also responsible for killing civilians, targeting tourists, and conducting operations in European Union countries. PKK rebels carry out attacks on Turkish soil and then cross the border to sanctuaries in northern Iraq. For many years Turkey has sought U.S. and Iraqi assistance in preventing these acts of terror. Turkey has repeatedly accused Iraqi Kurds of tolerating the situation, and has been disturbed by the lack of U.S. action to counter PKK activitıes in northern Iraq. Under these circumstances Ankara is seeking results and has declared that Turkey will exercise the right of self-defense, and the right to take action against terrorism and terrorist activities.

In addition to the small-scale "hot pursuit" raids into Iraq by Turkish troops, Turkey's army has staged over two dozen large-scale incursions into northern Iraq between the late 1980s and 1997. Turkey launched major incursions into northern Iraq in 1995 with 35,000 troops, and the 1997 operation involved tens of thousands of soldiers and government-paid village guards.

A major offensive is now being considered by Turkey to combat the PKK terror organization in northern Iraq. As a result of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, and the inability of U.S. and Iraqi forces to counter PKK terrorism, Ankara is backing a cross-border military operation. Over the last 10 days, more than two dozen soldiers and civilians died in attacks by PKK terrorists in the southeast. 

Earlier this year, General Yasar Buyukanit, Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, stated that a Turkish military operation "must be made" to hit PKK bases in northern Iraq.  As Turks vowed to fight terror, protests were held across the country to condemned a suicide bomb attack in the capital, which killed nine people and injured more than 100.

Turkey for many years has warned allies, countries in the region, and the international community of the dangers of the freely operating PKK training camps in northern Iraq (which according to recent reports are now receiving weapons intended for U.S. forces in Iraq). Ankara continues to call for effective action in accordance with international and multinational agreements. While Turkey once again plans a major offensive against the PKK, it is calling upon the international community to focus on the PKK's geopolitical and economic destabilization of the region, and the new security risks posed by the PKK, if the outlawed organization's bases and global networks are not disrupted. (Oct. 2007)

Who are the PKK?

(Reuters) - Turkey's parliament met on Wednesday Oct. 17 to authorize cross-border operations to hunt down PKK rebels hiding in mountainous northern Iraq.

Following are facts on the rebels:

-- Abdullah Ocalan founded the party in 1974 and it was formally named the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 1978, a Marxist-Leninist insurgent group fighting for an independent Kurdish state.

-- It earned a reputation for ruthlessness by killing members of rival groups, Kurdish "aga" landlords and pro-government tribesmen.

-- The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict since then.

-- Ocalan was captured and sentenced to death by a Turkish court in 1999, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in October 2002 after Turkey abolished the death penalty.

-- Fighting dwindled after Ocalan's capture and the withdrawal of rebel fighters from Turkey.

-- Clashes have resumed in recent years and last week Kurdish rebels shot dead 13 Turkish soldiers.

-- Some 3,000 PKK fighters are based in northern Iraq and launch attacks on security and civilian targets in Turkish territory. 

Terrorists and seperatist rebels inside Turkey are also responsible for killing civilians and security forces..

Turkish Protestors Demand Action

Protests held to condemn PKK

Thousands of people held protests yesterday in several cities including İzmir, Ankara, Gaziantep, Çanakkale, Malatya, Edirne, Bayburt, Erzurum, Giresun, Tokat, Kırşehir, Çankırı and Bolu

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News (October 24, 2007) 

  Protests condemning the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continued across the country yesterday following the ambush of a Turkish army patrol by Kurdish terrorists in Hakkari that that killed at least 12 soldiers Sunday. 

   Despite the heavy rain, thousands of people and many Izmir-based NGOs held a big demonstration in İzmir yesterday. Protesters gathered in front of a statue of the Republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Cumhuriyet Square and denounced PKK terrorism while singing the Turkish national anthem. They also chanted slogans against the government and the United States.

  The PKK attack was also condemned in Ankara with the participation many citizens including students and members of trade unions and NGOs who gathered in Ankara's busy Kızılay Square before marching to Sıhhiye while shouting the slogans “Turks and Kurds are brothers, separatists are treacherous!” and “We don't want the PKK in Parliament!”

  Large-scale protests also took place yesterday in Gaziantep, Çanakkale, Malatya, Edirne, Bayburt, Erzurum, Giresun, Tokat, Kırşehir, Çankırı and Bolu.  

Protests reach northern Cyprus

  A large number of associations and trade unions in northern Cyprus denounced the attack by the PPK terrorist attack at a press conference yesterday. “Terrorism is the biggest crime against humanity. We utterly condemn the PKK attack. As the people of northern Cyprus, we are determined to give our full support to Turkish soldiers both spiritually and financially,” they said.

Women apply to do military service

  An estimated 4,200 people across Turkey flocked to military offices to enlist themselves voluntarily. Of those, close to 1,200 have already done military service and 350 are women.

  Most volunteers are from central Anatolia and the Black Sea region. Military sources said that those who want to re-apply for military service cannot be drafted as soldiers according to the law, but they can apply for the positions of military specialists. Most of the applications received by those who wish to do military service earlier than schedule have been accepted.

  Savaş Altay, 34, is a former soldier who did military service in Hakkari 12 years ago. He reapplied to be drafted as a soldier in the same region which is where the 12 soldiers were killed. Altay said that he demands a tough incursion into northern Iraq. 

  “Because the shelters of the PKK terrorists are there. They take shelter in the caves in the area and these shelters should be destroyed,” he said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News. “There are some countries supporting terrorism and their intelligence agencies provide PKK terrorists with the communication systems. It is thus essential to destroy these communication systems in particular.”    

  A group of women from Eğitim-Sen, an educators trade union, applied to the military office in Ankara's Mamak district to enlist themselves voluntarily. “As Turkish mothers, we can't be silent. We want to be involved in the defense of the country,” they said.

Terror protests spread all around the country

Thousands of people took to the streets in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Bilecik and Bursa in spontaneous demonstrations condemning the recent deadly attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party

ANKARA – Turkish Daily News (October 23, 2007)

  An attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that killed 12 Turkish soldiers Sunday was harshly condemned by NGOs and thousands of people across Turkey who took to the streets waving Turkish flags and shouting slogans against the PKK in a second day of protests yesterday.

     Thousands of people took to the streets across the country in spontaneous demonstrations Sunday, hours after terrorists ambushed a Turkish army patrol in the mountains of Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border.

Protests in Istanbul and Ankara 

  Similar protests took place yesterday in several cities including Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. An estimated 3,000 people staged a protest yesterday in Istanbul to denounce the attack, calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government to resign.

  Demonstrators gathered at Kadıköy Square on the city's Anatolian side at the call of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and demanded tough action against Kurdish separatists. They also chastised the prime minister for not striking immediately at the PKK bases in northern Iraq.

  Chants of "Damn the PKK!" "Martyrs are eternal, the nation is indivisible," were heard along with "Tayyip, send your son to the army," in reference to the prime minister's son who was not drafted for health reasons.

  The capital witnessed similar scenes yesterday. A large number of demonstrators gathered in different spots including Ankara's busy Sakarya and Yüksel streets, Güvenpark, Ulus, Ümitköy and Keçiören condemning PKK terrorism and singing the Turkish national anthem.

5,000 İzmir Citizens Condemn Terror

  Close to 5,000 protesters gathered in front of a statue of the Republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Cumhuriyet Square to condemn the terror and applaud the 12 soldiers who became martyrs in Hakkari's Yüksekova district.

  The protesters chanted slogans such as ''We are the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal,'' ''Bow out, government,'' and ''We do not want the PKK in the assembly.''

  Ayfer Yüzgeç whose son Deniz was killed in an attack last year, was also in the crowd. “Today, I lost 12 more Deniz's,” he said.

  The crowd then marched to Gündoğdu Square while singing the Turkish national anthem. Passing by the military building in 1st Kordon, the group was shouting ''Turkey is proud of you.”

  Some 13,000 school children in Bilecik in eastern Turkey held a moment of silence while people marched down the main street waving the Turkish flag, the Anatolia news agency reported.

  In the northwestern province of Bursa, some protesters walked into a military conscription office and asked to be enlisted in order to fight the terrorists.

NGOs Protest

  Meanwhile, NGOs that are members of the Turkish-European Union Mixed Consultation Committee denounced the PKK terrorism.

  Presidents of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş), Turkish Confederation of Employers' Unions (TİSK), Labor Confederation (Hak-İş), Turkish Tradesmen's and Artisans' Confederation (TESK) and Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) and the Turkish Public Workers' Labor Union (Kamusen) came together yesterday to discuss the recent PKK attack.

  The NGOs said in a joint statement after the meeting that they will give full support to any decision made by the government and the Turkish Armed Forces to combat terrorism.

  Speaking on behalf of the Turkish Nongovernmental Organizations Platform, the president of the platform, Hasan Ekşi, condemned the PKK attacks and delivered messages of unity in the face of brutal terror. “We want all the terrorist attacks, which violate peace and development, to cease. Nobody has the right to destroy the sense of peace and brotherhood within a country and the relations with neighbor countries. We call on all the authorities and our people to keep their common sense,” he said.

  Yavuz Önen, head of the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) and Human Rights Association (IHD) chairman, Hüsnü Öndül, deplored the PKK terrorism in a joint statement. “Armed solution can't be a remedy to the problems. We call on the PKK to promptly lay down its arms,” the statement said.

Tens of thousands of Turks protest PKK violence at soldiers' funerals, in streets

The Associated Press -
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

KESKIN, Turkey: Thousands of Turks gathered Tuesday for the funerals of 12 soldiers slain in a weekend Kurdish rebel attack, denouncing the guerrillas and calling on the government to take tough action against the group.

Thousands of people also gathered in Istanbul and in cities across Turkey, waving Turkish flags and holding up posters of modern Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

About 10,000 people attended the funeral of Vedat Kutluca, one of those who died in an ambush by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, near the border with Iraq on Sunday. The attack has increased pressure on the government to order a cross-border military offensive into northern Iraq to hit PKK bases there.

"Damn the PKK!" and "Hey government, don't test our patience," mourners protested during the funeral in Keskin, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the capital, Ankara.

"We'll go into Iraq and grab Barzani," the mourners also shouted, in reference to Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq's Kurdish region, where the PKK is based.

"Our patience is running out," said Ilhan Keskes, one of those attending the funeral. "The government must do something before the nation explodes."

People tried to touch Kutluca's Turkish flag-draped coffin. Several people could be seen crying.

There were similar protests at funerals in the other soldiers' hometowns. Elsewhere, people held a minute of silence in respect for the soldiers.

Around 50,000 people, marched in the western city of Aydin and burned an effigy of Barzani, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

About 3,000 people also gathered in a main square in Istanbul, denouncing the PKK and calling on the government to resign.

Several people were going to conscription offices around the country, asking to enlist to fight the PKK, reports said.

Turks were replacing their profile photographs on the online social networking Web site Facebook with pictures of the Turkish flag, in a show respect to the slain soldiers.

Anger as Turkey buries soldiers, government edgy

Reuters - October23, 2007

By Gareth Jones

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey on Tuesday buried 12 soldiers killed by Kurdish rebels in an outpouring of public grief and anger that unnerved the government and prompted it to ban broadcasts about the deaths.

Funerals, held in towns and cities across the Muslim nation of 75 million, turned into protest rallies with mourners chanting slogans against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is battling Turkish troops near the Iraqi border.

The dead men were mostly conscripts in their early 20s doing their compulsory military service. They were laid to rest in a sea of red and white Turkish flags.

The funerals and other protests have increased pressure on the government to send troops across the border into northern Iraq where an estimated 3,000 rebels are hiding, though Ankara says it still hopes diplomacy will prevail.

As newspapers reported clashes between pro- and anti-PKK students and other sporadic acts of violence, Turkish President Abdullah Gul appealed for public calm and restraint.

"However great the destruction caused by terrorism, the struggle against terrorism can be waged by legal means and only by the state," Gul said in a statement.

The government, keen to avoid further inflaming public opinion, imposed a ban on all media broadcasts concerning the deaths of the 12 soldiers, whose pictures and life stories have featured prominently in the newspapers.

RTUK, the state body that oversees television and radio in Turkey, said the ban was necessary because broadcasting news about the deaths "hurts the psychology of society and public order and creates an image of the security forces as weak".

Until the ban, television channels had led news bulletins with footage of grieving wives, mothers, fathers and children.


Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

The PKK has recently stepped up attacks, killing about 40 soldiers and other security personnel in the past month alone.

"All Turks are soldiers," was the defiant chant at a funeral in the western Anatolian town of Eskisehir.

"We will make the PKK pay the price for our martyrs," the state Anatolian news agency quoted Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan as telling the mourners.

The small Democratic Society Party (DTP), which campaigns for more Kurdish political and cultural rights, has complained of attacks on its offices since Sunday's deaths.

Most Turks view the DTP as a mouthpiece for the rebels, though the party insists it does not support violence and has called for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue.

Some 300 Turkish students clashed with PKK supporters on a university campus in the Aegean city of Izmir, newspapers said.

The home of a Kurdish family was burnt down in the western city of Bursa, the leftist Evrensel daily reported. The windows of another Kurdish home were smashed, it said.

(Additional reporting by Selcuk Gokoluk, Umit Bektas and Inci Ozturk)

How the world sees America
Istanbul Protests: "Curse the PKK, Curse America"

Amar C. Bakshi - October 22, 2007 http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com

ISTANBUL - Thousands took to the streets of Istanbul today to protest the deaths of seventeen Turkish soldiers at the hands of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), crying, "Destroy the PKK," and "We are All Turks."

But much of their anger was directed at America: "Close down Incirlik," referring to America's air base in Turkey, "Tell the U.S. to get out now!" and most emphatically, "Curse the PKK, Curse America!"

One group of protesters, organized by the Turkish Youth Organization, demanded that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cut ties with the U.S. government. Young people gathered at a statue of Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's secular founder, and unfurled a banner reading, "Americans Murder Your Darling Mehmet.” (Mehmet is a common male name in Turkey.)

Prime Minister Erdogan has assured the U.S. he will not immediately retaliate by invading Northern Iraq. But he is under mounting public pressure to do so, and many here believe America is holding him back from pursuing a more aggressive course. Over the past decade, The Pew Research Center shows U.S. favorability ratings plummeting in Turkey from around 50% into the single digits.

"Turks were always opposed to the Second Iraq War,” Turkish journalist and Post Global panelest Soli Ozel explained. “Now, many in Turkey believe the U.S. wants an independent Kurdish state and therefore is at least complicit in partitioning Turkey as well. So far, the U.S. has made many promises but has done nothing against the PKK."

I was interviewing Enzer Yucel, the chairman of the Bahcesehir Education Institution, one of Turkey’s largest private education companies, when the news broke. "Turkey and America must talk immediately and take joint action on this issue,” he said. “I have never seen the view of America at such a low, not even during the Cyprus crisis."

"Is America really at war against terrorism?" he continued. "If so, America should capture the PKK terrorists and give their heads to Turkey. That would improve relations." He gazed out over the Bosporus. "America must talk as soon as possible and collaborate; otherwise, Turkey will definitely take the necessary action. Relations will fall further."

This has been a hectic first day in Turkey. I’m eager to see how widespread the sentiments expressed by Yucel and the protesters are, what cause them, and how they change in different parts of the country. Tomorrow I’ll report from Hakkari, the site of the PKK attack, on what villagers there think of the prospect of war and what they want America to do.

US says Iraqi Kurds must do more against PKK

The Iraqi Kurdish administration should constrain the ability of the PKK to operate in the north of Iraq, Satterfield said.

WASHINGTON (NTV Oct.24, 2007) - The US is not pleased with the lack of action by the regional Kurdish administration against the terrorist organization PKK, a senior US official said late Tuesday.

Recent statements by the regional Kurdish administration condemning the PKK were good but were not sufficient, said David Satterfield, the US coordinator for Iraq and senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“Action is required here and it has been too long without meaningful action directed against this terrorist group,” Satterfield said while speaking to journalists. “This is not anything that the Kurdish leadership is not aware of from our own voice, we are not pleased with the lack of action undertaken against the PKK.”

However, Satterfield said the US did not believe that a cross-border operation by Turkish forces to strike at the PKK would serve the interests of any party, Kurdish, Iraqi or Turkish.

Angry Turks protest at soldiers' funerals

Thousands of Turks gathered today for the funerals of 12 soldiers killed in the weekend’s Kurdish rebel attack.

Crowds also gathered in Istanbul and in cities across Turkey, waving flags and holding up posters of modern Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Around 10,000 people attended the funeral of Vedat Kutluca, one of those who died in an ambush by the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), near the border with Iraq on Sunday.

“Damn the PKK!” and “Hey government, don’t test our patience,” mourners protested during the funeral in Keskin, 60 miles east of the capital, Ankara.

“We’ll go into Iraq and grab Barzani,” the mourners also shouted, in reference to Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region, where the PKK is based.

“Our patience is running out,” said Ilhan Keskes, one of those attending the funeral. “The government must do something before the nation explodes.”

People tried to touch Kutluca’s Turkish flag-draped coffin. Several people could be seen crying.

There were similar protests at funerals in the other soldiers’ hometowns. Elsewhere, people held a minute of silence.

Some 3,000 people also gathered in a main square in Istanbul, denouncing the PKK and calling on the government to resign. 

Thousands condemn terror in nationwide protests

Iraqi President Celal Talabani, and Kurdish leader Mesud Barzani, are accused of not doing anything to prevent the PKK from attacking Turkey.

Spontaneous protests against terrorism erupt in several cites around Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul, Adana, Eskisehir, Kocaeli, Bursa, Mugla, Nigde, Edirne, Izmir, Tekirdag, Karabük, Zonguldak, Aksaray, Hatay, Mersin, Antalya, Afyon, Erzurum, Elazig, Trabzon, Malatya and Adana.

Carrying Turkish flags and pictures of Kemal Atatürk, the protesters shouted slogans against the PKK. In some provinces, citizens went to gendarmerie command centres and asked to be taken into military service to fight against the PKK.

Dozens of protests were staged in almost all of Turkey's 81 provinces to protest against PKK terrorism. While some demonstrations were organized by non-governmental organizations, others were composed of small groups which later grew into mass rallies condemning terrorism.

In Istanbul, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul branch organized a demonstration in Kadıköy where a crowd of 5,000 chanted slogans condemning the terrorists while holding Turkish flags and photographs of martyred Turkish soldiers.

Kadıköy Mayor Selami Öztürk said Turkey was under the threat of religious and ethnic discrimination, saying the two were merging. “We will not fall into the trap of ethnic discrimination,” the mayor told the crowd. Journalist Tuncay Özkan, President of the Union of İstanbul’s Women’s Organizations Nazan Moroğlu and the wife of recently martyred Pvt. Hasan Güreşen also gave speeches during the demonstration. In addition to Kadıköy residents, CHP members, members of the Support for Contemporary Life Association (ÇYYD) and the Turkey Youth Union attended the demonstration.

In Taksim, a group left a wreath in front of the Republican Monument. Another group in İstanbul put up a Turkish flag on Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, which spans the Bosporus.

In Ankara, 25,000 marched from Gazi University in the Beşevler district to the Mausoleum of Atatürk, chanting slogans that denounced terrorism.

In Adana, a group of 300 high school students from Hacı Ahmet Atıl High School participated in a march protesting terrorism. The students silently dispersed after singing the national anthem.

An angry group in Bursa dismantled a sign at the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) headquarters. About 150 people in Erzurum, who also gathered in front of the DTP building in their district.

In Antalya, a group stood for 12 minutes of silence in remembrance of the martyred soldiers, one minute for each martyr.

About 3,500 gathered in the Türkoğlu district of Kahramanmaraş to protest the terrorist attacks. In Manisa, members of the judiciary, as well as workers of the municipality marched in protest. The city’s Chief Prosecutor Sait Gürlek said in a speech that they deeply condemned the treacherous attacks of the terrorist organization, but also called on citizens to act with common sense. “Our state has the power to overcome any difficulty. We should not fall into the trap of the terrorist organization,” he stated.

Meanwhile, 85 workers from the Manisa Municipality filed petitions demanding that they be drafted into the armed forces to fight the terrorists.

In the Black Sea port city of Trabzon, thousands of residents were involved in protests across the city. A large crowd gathered in front of the Atatürk Monument in Atatürk Square to condemn the terrorist acts. Representatives from civil society organizations gave speeches expressing strong remarks against third parties who are giving support to the terrorist organization.

During the gathering in honor of the 12 martyrs killed in Sunday’s attacks, each martyrs' name was read aloud. After each name was read, the crowd of demonstrators dutifully responded in unison “I’m here!” demonstating their shared allegience and endless devotion. The anti-terror rally ended with thousands of participants dispersing quietly. In the central Anatolian town of Eskişehir, city buses were decorated with black banners to protest the killings. A number of demonstrations in many parts of the city were held in which small groups protested the recent attacks.

In Kastamonu, about 200 university students filed petitions with the military to volunteer to be drafted. Many other residents joined the demonstration of the university students. Also in Kastamonu, about 500 vehicles formed a long convoy to protest the attacks.

In Baku, the Azeri capital, university students held demonstrations condemning the terrorist attacks.

Crude oil climbs to more than $90 a barrel

An attack by Kurdish rebels on Sunday killed 12 Turkish soldiers, only days after the Turkish parliament gave the government the authority to use military action against Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq.

Protests across Turkey following Sunday's attack have stepped up pressure on the Turkish government to act, according to media reports.

Oil prices touched record levels amid fears the stand-off between Turkey and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) on the Iraqi border could impact oil supply from the war-torn country.

Oil hits another record high after rising tensions between Turkey and PKK

Crude oil futures reached another record on Oct.23 in electronic trading in New York after PKK terrorist attacks and rising tensions between Turkey and northern Iraq. In the Kirkuk region of Iraq, oil production declined by 100,000 barrels per day as threat of an incursion to fight the PKK from Turkey rose.  Traders are worried that fighting in the region could further dampen Iraq's daily production of 1.68 million barrels which would cut into world supplies as winter heating demand comes into play. Oil pipelines run through southern Turkey where many attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party have occurred.

LONDON (Oct 12 2007 - Thomson Financial) - Oil surged to a new record high above 84 usd in New York following reports of increasing tensions between Turkey and the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq who reside near some of the world's largest crude oil pipelines.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier he was ready to "act" against Kurdish bases in northern Iraq despite international pressure against any such incursion.

Meanwhile, the autonomous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq has warned Turkey against making good its threat to mount a cross-border incursion to flush out the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves, many of which are located in the north of the country, the same place where it is suspected the PKK has its bases.

"The reason the market is strong is concerns over increasing tensions between Turkey and the Kurds. There's a strong possibility if we close above 84 usd this market could go higher yet," said Alaron trading analyst Phil Flynn.

If Turkey makes good on its threat to attack PKK bases in northern Iraq, there is a good chance the rebels will target the Iraq to Ceyhan oil pipeline, which runs through Turkey, and the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline.

Turkey carries out air sorties against Kurdish rebel positions inside northern Iraq

Mark Tran October 24, 2007 Guardian Unlimited

Reuters said Turkish war planes flew as deep as 13 miles into Iraqi territory and some 300 ground troops advanced about six miles, killing 34 rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party.

"Further 'hot pursuit' raids into northern Iraq can be expected, though none have taken place so far today," a military official said, adding that all Turkish troops involved in the operations were now back in Turkey.

Officials said the sorties were small, similar to those conducted in the past across the mountainous border, not the large-scale offensive that US and Iraqi authorities are trying to avert.

Turkish troops also shelled suspected Kurdish rebel positions across the border as recently as last night, the Associated Press reported.

The report of small-scale incursions into northern Iraq came as Turkey's civilian and military leaders met to discuss the scope and duration of a possible large-scale offensive amid mounting pressure for action.

Several newspapers printed the pictures of eight missing soldiers, allegedly held hostage by the separatist rebels. During funerals for 12 soldiers yesterday, tens of thousands of mourners chanted slogans, pushing the government to order an offensive against Kurdish fighters.

Turkey's parliament last week approved a military attack, and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said yesterday his country "cannot wait forever" to strike at the PKK.

The European Union today repeated its condemnation of attacks on Turkey launched by Kurdish guerrillas hiding across the border in Iraq, but urged Turkey and Iraq to work out joint measures to end the hostilities.

Turkey is negotiating to join the EU and the Turkish government has to consider the damage that military action could inflict on accession talks.

US officials yesterday publicly rebuked Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq for failing to curb the Kurdish guerrillas based in the autonomous region.

"We are not pleased with the lack of action," David Satterfield, the US state department's senior Iraq adviser, told reporters in Washington.

He said Kurdish leaders had to take responsibility for dealing with the rebels, although he did not go as far as calling on them to take military action against the PKK.


ANKARA, Oct 24 2007 (Reuters) - These are the leading stories in the Turkish press on Wed Oct 24.
Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


- Foreign Minister Ali Babacan presents six concrete demands to Baghdad -- stop PKK Kurdish rebels using Iraqi territory, halt logistical support for them, block all its activities, limit its freedom of movement, arrest its leaders and hand them over to Turkey and shut down the PKK camps.


- "One nation, one body" -- Hundreds of thousands of Turks, waving national flags and pictures of slain soldiers, rally against the PKK and also curse the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq for sheltering the rebels.


- General Yasar Buyukanit, head of the military General Staff, adds his voice to calls for public calm and restraint following the latest clashes with Kurdish guerrillas.

- "Let this be the last," says the paper, above a picture of grieving relatives at Tuesday's funerals for the 12 slain soldiers.


- Turkish F16 warplanes have staged "hot pursuit" forays across the Iraq border against PKK rebels, the paper says.


- A rebel commander called Kadri Celik, code name "Ape", gave the order for Sunday's attack that killed 12 soldiers, the paper says.


- U.S. President George W. Bush tells Turkey's President Abdullah Gul by telephone that U.S. forces in Iraq may launch air strikes against PKK camps. They may also send commandos to hunt out the rebels.


- The government resorts to censorship to cover up its failure to tackle the PKK rebels, the paper says, referring to a ban imposed on TV and radio broadcasts concerning the deaths of 12 soldiers. The authorities say the ban is aimed at preserving public peace as Turkish anger grows over the violence.


- Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey may impose some economic sanctions against Iraq over the PKK problem.


- Turkish F16 warplanes dropped bombs on PKK camps some 30 km inside Iraq last weekend after the attacks that killed 12 soldiers, the paper says.

- The paper publishes "disgusting" pictures of the eight soldiers taken captive by the PKK guerrillas.


- The paper claims 8,000 Turkish soldiers have advanced some 50 km (30 miles) into northern Iraq and are attacking Kurdish camps. The claims have not been independently verified.

Turkey's PM criticizes U.S. and EU countries for inconsistent policies on fighting terrorism

ANKARA, Turkey (Oct. 27, 2007) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized U.S. and EU countries for inconsistent policies on fighting terrorism.

He urged European Union countries on Saturday to extradite Kurdish terrorists to Turkey, saying the EU was failing to support Turkey's struggle.

"No EU country has extradited members of the PKK to Turkey, despite labeling it as a terrorist organization," Erdogan said. Although it is rarely reported in the western media, PKK terrorists and their collaborators take refuge and raise money in Europe.

"We would like to see our friends beside us in this struggle," he said.

Ethnic Turks in Brussels protest against Kurdish rebel group

International Herald Tribune / AP - Nov. 3, 2007

About 2,000 ethnic Turks demonstrated in front of European Union headquarters on Saturday to protest recent Kurdish rebel attacks on Turkey and to seek tougher action by EU countries against the separatists.

The EU's executive, the European Commission, has sided with Turkey against the Kurdish rebels, but has cautioned Ankara against sending troops into Iraq to pursue them to their bases.

Mehmet Alparslan Saygun, head of the Union of European Turkish Democrats, which helped to organize the protest, said the rally was also meant to speak out against violence and to try to improve Turkish communities' damaged reputation in Belgium after rioting by Turkish youths last month.

"There is no such thing as bad terror or good terror; terror is terror, ... we have to name it as it is," he said.

About 100 youths were detained two weeks ago by police after rioting in several neighborhoods. The violent protests damaged cars, trams, buses and bus shelters, and several businesses also were ransacked.

Belgian government officials have appealed to Belgium's ethnic Turkish community to show restraint in their outrage over the Kurdish rebel attacks and to respect Belgian law.

Turkish-Kurdish conflict reaches Europe

BERLIN, Oct. 29, 2007 (UPI) -- As the Turkish-Kurdish conflict threatens to escalate into a military invasion of northern Iraq, the violence has reached other countries in Europe.

Over the weekend tens of thousands of Turks and a smaller number of Kurds demonstrated in Western Europe.

Some 7,000 Turks from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany took to the streets in the Dutch city of Utrecht; though windows were smashed, the demonstration remained largely peaceful, and police managed to keep the situation under control.

Yet in Brussels some 100 protesters of Turkish origin were arrested Sunday after an illegal demonstration ended in clashes with Belgian police.

In Berlin, a city home to an estimated 200,000 Turks, a protest against the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by its acronym PKK, on Sunday also turned violent.

The demonstration in Berlin’s immigrant-dominated districts of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln was organized under the slogan “Unity and fraternity between Turks and Kurds,” but that changed when a group of young Turks began to yell extremist chants and throw stones into Kurdish restaurants.

According to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, the situation escalated when a small group of protesters believed to be members of the extremist Turkish nationalist group Gray Wolves tried to free a man arrested by police. A street battle ensued around Kottbusser Tor, an urban square dotted with Kebab restaurants and Turkish cafes. Demonstrators injured 18 police; 15 protesters were arrested.

This reporter tried to reach the scene of the demonstrations via subway, yet several trains were canceled because subway stations were overcrowded with young Turkish protesters waving Turkey’s flag and chanting anti-PKK, pro-Turkey and pro-Islam slogans.

On Saturday some 500 Kurds demonstrated in Berlin’s posh Charlottenburg district against a Turkish military operation in Iraq, but things remained peaceful.

On Monday German security officials said they expected more violence if the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish rebels hiding in mountainous northern Iraq continues.

Claudia Schmid, head of Berlin’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a domestic intelligence and security agency, said Berlin is home to some 1,000 members of the Kurdish rebel group PKK, branded by the United Nations and the European Union a terror organization.

"The conflict in the border region of Iraq has come to Berlin, and we need to be very careful and keep our eyes open," she told a Berlin-based radio station.

While some criticized police for arriving at the scene too late and in too few numbers, police officials said officers were able to prevent an even larger outbreak of violence. They spoke of Turkish gangs armed with machetes, ready to use them against Kurds.

The violence in Europe demonstrates how tensions are rising in the conflict that started on Oct. 21 when 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by PKK fighters, some 3,500 of whom are believed to be hiding in mountainous northern Iraq, right at the border with Turkey.

The public pressure in Turkey to act against the PKK rebels is increasing each day, reflected by massive -- partly violent -- demonstrations in several Turkish cities with hundreds of thousands of participants.

Iraqi and U.S. authorities have not been able to stop the violence originating from northern Iraq; they have also denied Turkish calls to hand over PKK leaders.

Faced with little progress within Iraq, Turkish lawmakers earlier this month gave the formal green light to a Turkish military operation against the rebels. Senior Turkish politicians, however, have said they would not rush into a military mission but would rather lead an operation together with the United States. Experts have also said the PKK is doing everything it can to provoke Turkey into marching across the Iraqi border.

Washington is trying to defuse tensions between some of its staunchest allies in the region: On the one hand NATO member Turkey, which fosters close ties with the United States, and on the other hand the Iraqi Kurds, who after years of oppression after the U.S.-led Iraq war established a self-governed, pro-American, pro-business province in northern Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Istanbul on Friday, and President Bush will visit the Turkish capital three days later. The U.S. diplomatic offensive intends to prevent a military one, which all observers agree would have terrible consequences for the entire region.

PKK Activity in Germany Intensifies

German Kurds are pressured to contribute to the PKK cause

02.12.2007 Deutsche Welle www.dw-world.de 

While the tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels continue, reports in Germany suggest that Kurds living in the country are forced to hand over millions of euros to the group.

Experts have been monitoring an intensification of PKK activities in Germany, which is home to 2.5 million Turks -- the biggest Turkish community outside Turkey. PKK activity slowed down in 2003 but has gradually been picking up in the four years since, according to reports.

According to German police sources, the PKK is also involved in drug trafficking in Germany and uses the spoils to fund its separatist struggle. Police have confirmed that several investigations have revealed a link between the PKK and drug dealers.

Turkish intelligence services believe that the PKK raises 300 million euros ($430 million) a year and last year spent 15 million euros on arms, notably in Iraq. In April, police confiscated 16,000 euros in banknotes in a raid on 32 suspected members of the PKK in Bavaria in southern Germany.

In recent years, a number of PKK members have been arrested in Germany for securing financing for the group, which has been branded a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Last year German police arrested a Turk of Kurdish origin suspected of being the leader of the PKK and KONGRA-GEL in Germany and heading its fundraising and propaganda activities here.

Turkey slams Germany for playing down PKK
However, the Turkish community in Germany has recently accused the country's media of playing down the threat posed by the PKK.

Germany's largest Turkish-language newspaper, Hürriyet wrote last week that "the German media have a blind spot when it comes to the PKK, referring to repeated descriptions of the organization as "Kurdish rebels," "PKK members", "separatists" and "radical Kurds."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also criticized European countries recently for failing to arrest and extradite wanted Kurdish militants to Turkey.

Istanbul has regularly asked countries to do more against the PKK which is considered a terrorist organization both by the European Union and the US.

"Unfortunately no EU country has extradited members of the PKK to Turkey, despite labeling it as a terrorist organization," Erdogan said at a symposium in Istanbul last weekend.

"The fact there has been no improvement shows clearly how sincere our Western friends are on this issue. Erdogan criticized what he called an approach of "your terrorist is good, my terrorist is bad," he said.

Police in Europe fear violence at demonstrations as PKK activities scrutnized

Experts believe that while some of Germany's 600,000 Kurdish immigrants willingly provide the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) with money to fund its violent separatist campaign in southeastern Turkey, others are pressured into contributing under duress. A spokesman for Germany's BfV domestic intelligence services, commented on recent reports, stating that the PKK is blackmailing Kurdish immigrants with mafia-like demands for protection money of one month's salary a year or much more in the case of wealthy businessmen. "In this way they collect millions of euros in Germany every year," the spokesperson stated.

The reports came to light in the wake of violent clashes between Kurds and Turkish nationalists in Berlin, Heilbronn, and Mülheim last weekend. In Berlin, 18 policemen were injured trying to break up fighting between the two sides, after Turkish nationalists held a march in support of Ankara's threat to launch strikes on PKK bases in northern Iraq.

The German intelligence services have since stepped up their surveillance of PKK activists in Germany. They estimate that there are 11,500 PKK members in Germany, of whom 1,000 live in Berlin.

Germany banned the PKK in 1993 after it carried out a campaign of fire-bombings on Turkish and German institutions in Berlin.

Thousands of  Turks hold protests against "terrorist" attacks by the PKK

A demonstration in Berlin was one of several across Europe this weekend which drew a total of over 30,000 people. Five people were injured -- two of them seriously -- at a rally in the Austrian capital Vienna, but demonstrations in Brussels and some 15 German cities remained peaceful.

There were fears that the rallies might turn violent after volence broke out between Turks and Kurds in Berlin last weekend, and police were deployed for additional security at each demonstration. Clashes between Kurds and nationalist Turks in the German capital last week left 18 policemen injured. In Berlin's Hermannplatz, around 600 protesting Kurds were flanked by more than 1,000 police officers on all sides.

The rallies took place as Turkish leaders voiced dissatisfaction with efforts by the Iraqi government to contain the PKK, who have been attacking Turkey from strongholds in northern Iraq. PKK terrorists in northern Iraq have been conducting violent raids across the Turkish border,

In Cologne, thousands of Turks protested against terrorist attacks by the PKK on Turkish forces. A few hundred Kurds gathered in Berlin's Neukoelln district, but were outnumbered by police. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, at the weekend warned that the country "will not tolerate violence" between Turks and Kurds on its soil.

Germany is home to about 2.4 million Turks, the biggest Turkish community outside Turkey, which includes about 600,000 Kurds. Turks and Kurds also held protests in several German cities on Saturday.

A gathering organised by a Turkish association in Nuremberg drew 7,000 people, while in Hamburg police seized PKK flags from some 1,850 Kurds who marched to the Turkish consulate.

Five injured in fight between Turks and Kurds in Vienna:

Five people were injured in a fight involving between 20 and 30 people of Turkish and Kurdish origin Sunday evening in a district in the south of Vienna, police said. Two men suffered serious knife injuries, while three others were lightly wounded. Police said they were still searching for the unknown suspects

Suspected PKK leader goes on trial in Germany

BERLIN, Oct 31, 2007 (Reuters) - A 58-year-old Kurdish man went on trial on Wednesday in Berlin, accused of belonging to a terrorist organisation and ordering arson attacks in southern Germany in the mid-1990s. German authorities believe the man, identified only as Muharrem A., led an arm of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southwest Germany between 1994 and 1995.

Federal prosecutors say he ordered Molotov cocktail attacks on three police stations, a post office and a bank in September 1994 after authorities prohibited a PKK demonstration. Prosecutors have not said what punishment they are seeking. The suspect went into hiding for 12 years before surrendering to authorities in Berlin in March.

The European Union and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist group, and Turkey attributes more than 30,000 deaths to the organisation since its armed separatist campaign began in 1984.

The trial comes as Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops along the Iraqi border in readiness for a possible large-scale incursion to hunt down some 3,000 suspected PKK fighters who are using northern Iraq as a base.
Nov. 5, 2007 


PKK Circumverts Ban in Germany 

By Yassin Musharbash, Berlin - Oct. 30, 2007 Spiegel Online

There are fears that the conflict currently brewing between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist group the PKK has spread to Germany amid violent clashes in Berlin. Now a prominent politician has slammed the ineffectiveness of the supposed ban on the PKK in Germany.

The ongoing tenison between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist group the PKK has been making headlines in recent weeks as fears grow of a Turkish invasion into northern Iraq. The conflict even appears to have spread to Germany as an anti-PKK demonstration in Berlin degenerated into violence on Sunday afternoon.

Now a German politician has questioned the effectiveness of the supposed ban on the PKK in Germany. "There is effectively no prohibition of the PKK in Germany," Cem Özdemir, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It is openly known that the PKK agitates and recruits in Germany. What's the use of such a ban?" The politician, who is of Turkish origin, wonders "whether security forces are, for some reason, deliberately turning a blind eye."

It was almost exactly 14 years ago -- on November 26, 1993 -- that the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was prohibited in Germany. But in the minds of Özdemir and many others, not much has changed since then. Even the authorities that Özdemir is attacking tend to agree.

As far back as 1995, Germany's police union was complaining that the ban was complicating their work because the people they were after had gone underground. In the same year, intelligence officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said that the ban had created an "aggressive attitude among PKK followers towards the German state." Meanwhile in Lower Saxony intelligence agents claimed that the number of PKK members had doubled since the ban had taken affect.

In March 2007, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, reported that the successor organisation to the PKK "is still functioning as an illegal, conspirative group" in Germany.

Back in 1993, a ban on the PKK seemed urgently necessary. The PKK had begun importing its terrorism into Germany at the beginning of the 1990s. On Nov. 4, 1993, 60 Turkish properties in Germany were vandalized. Travel agencies, banks and restaurants were attacked and one person was killed.

There was no doubt that the PKK, a Marxist-Leninist group with terrorist leanings, was behind the violence. The group had been active in Germany in previous years; in one instance, PKK fighters had occupied Turkish consulates.

Many Kurds in Germany saw the ban as evidence that Germany was siding with Turkey in the dispute. In 1996, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan pronounced: "Germany has declared war on the PKK. We can fight back. Every Kurd is a potential suicide bomber." Shortly thereafter, he watered down the threat: The enemy was Turks in Germany, not Germans, he said.

After Öcalan's arrest in 1999, the PKK adopted a less aggressive line. It started propagating democracy and peaceful forms of resistance. But a cloud of suspicion still hangs over the movement, especially in Germany. The country offers an ideal additional front for the Kurdish conflict: Nowhere in Europe is home to more Kurds and Turks.

But it's not only the Kurds who threaten to bring the conflict to Germany, as became evident last weekend in Berlin. On Saturday, Kurds demonstrated peacefully against a possible Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. Then on Sunday, stones and bottles began flying as Turkish ultra-nationalists surrounded a Kurdish cultural center in Berlin's Kreuzberg district.

The "Gray Wolves" -- the unofficial militant arm of what used to be the National Movement Party, which was banned in Turkey in 1980 -- are thought to have fanned the anti-Kurdish flames. There are an estimated 8,000 Gray Wolves members in Germany. While regarded as not particularly active, their ideas enjoy widespread acceptance. It's safe to assume that this group could be roused to action if the PKK or its successor group, Kongra Gel, were to re-surface in Germany.

For the time being, Kongra Gel, which is thought to have 11,500 members in Germany, is showing a peaceful face, but it is far from inactive. It is constantly founding new groups whose connections to PKK circles are deliberately obscured.

According to security authorities, Kongra Gel discretely collects money -- in the millions -- for Kurdish causes. Those who don't contribute receive a friendly reminder to pay their "taxes." It organizes large meetings, attended by thousands of Kurds. The public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk and other media have revealed that recruiters from militant Kurdish groups -- such as the PJAK which launches attacks on Iran from Iraq -- can often be seen at such events.

According to sources in German security circles, the groups hold meetings in other European countries, where they're likely to be observed less closely than in Germany -- even though the EU declared Kongra Gel to be a terrorist organization in 2004.

In a March 2007 report, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution estimates that roughly 10 percent of the Kurdish population in Germany "could be mobilized for the Kongra Gel cause." The current one-sided ceasefire could, theoretically, be reversed at any moment.

In Turkey, the organizations that have succeeded or are associated with the PKK are in no way wed to the principle of non-violence. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a militant new grouping within the PKK spectrum, staged a bloody attack in August 2006 on the Turkish tourist destination of Antalya.

There is nothing to suggest that Kongra Gel is preparing violent activity in or against Germany. The vast majority of the group's members "have for years stayed within the law with their activites," as Berlin's Interior Minister Eckart Körthing commented last week.

Nonetheless, Cem Özdemir warns: "Anyone who means well with the Kurds cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the PKK." With reference to the riots on Sunday, he demands clear limits. "It's legitimate for Turks and Kurds to express and demonstrate their political views here -- but violence in any form is unacceptable," he says.

The state and its security forces must send very clear signals, he feels: "Otherwise, the conflict will spill over into Germany." 

Riots in Berlin
Turkish-Iraq Conflict Spills Over 

Oct. 29, 2007 Spiegel Online

For most Germans, the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist group PKK on the country's border with Iraq seems, no doubt, far away. But Berliners on Sunday got a taste of the tiff up close and personal.

It may seem a long way from the front, but Berlin on Sunday got into the Turkish-Kurd conflict now flaring on the Iraqi border. A demonstration in the German capital turned violent and a number of police were injured.

An anti-PKK demonstration in Berlin's Kreuzberg district degenerated into violence between young Turks and Kurds on Sunday afternoon. By evening, a threatening mass of nationalist Turks had gathered around a Kurdish cultural center.

Several hundred people took part in the demonstration, which ran under the banner of "Unity and Fraternity between Kurds and Turks." Roughly one hundred demonstrators were protesting peacefully, waving Turkish flags and calling out anti-PKK slogans. Several hundred police tried to dispel or round up the protestors.

"Bottles and stones were flying everywhere," said a police spokesman. According to police sources, 18 police were injured and 15 demonstrators arrested, eight of whom remain in custody.

Claudia Schmid, head of Berlin's security police, expects that the conflict on the border between Turkey and Irak will be catalyst for further violence on the streets of Berlin. She estimates that roughly 1,000 members of the prohibited Kurdish PKK party are living in Germany's capital.

"The conflict in the border region with Iraq has already spilled over into Berlin. We have to be careful and look the problem straight in the eye," she said on German radio.

At the root of the violence are Turkish nationalist groups close to the "Gray Wolves," the unofficial militant arm of what used to be the National Movement Party, which was banned in Turkey in 1980. Schmid said that rowdy German youth who traditionally take part in the annual May 1 riots in Kreuzberg also entered the fray.

Interior Senator Ehrhart Körting (SPD) said: "This is not what we want here." People are allowed to demonstrate in Berlin but they have to stick to the democratic rules. The young Turks -- in particular right wing extremist, nationalist Turks -- did not.

The police union explained that it was the Turks that went after the Kurds after the demonstration. Its press statement read: "Only the massive contingent of armed police could prevent uncontrolled violence on Berlin's streets." Helmut Sarwas, deputy chairman of the union, said: "People running in a mob with machetes through Kreuzberg, injuring police, must be made to feel the full force of the democratic state." He claimed that Berlin police are having to deal with an increasing number of conflicts of international origin, in which they often end up between enemy fronts.

On Saturday, roughly 500 Kurds demonstrated in Berlin against Turkey's threatening military intervention in northern Iraq. Three people were arrested.

Turkey's Erdogan leaves for Washington for crucial talks with Bush

A top retired U.S. general, who until recently had been the United States special envoy for countering the PKK terrorist organization, admitted that a diplomatic process he had led against the PKK had failed.

Ankara (Nov. 4, 2007) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan left Istanbul for Washington Saturday for a crucial meeting with US President George Bush. The Prime Minister has been urging the United States to take concrete steps to crack down on Kurdish terrorist groups based in northern Iraq from where they launch attacks on Turkey. Erdogan said that US-Turkey relations were going through a serious test and that Turkey's patience on the matter was exhausted.

The Turkish prime minister's visit to Washington comes after a visit to Ankara and Istanbul over the last two days by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in which Rice said that discussions were held on a comprehensive plan on how to deal with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist network based in northern Iraq.

Turkish troops are massed on the border with Iraq and the government is ready to order a large-scale operation into northern Iraq to wipe-out PKK bases. The Turkish military estimates there are around 3,500 PKK terrorists in northern Iraq.

Public pressure on the government to launch an operation reached a high point last month when PKK members killed 12 soldiers.

Opinion polls have shown Turkish public support for the United States has plummeted in recent years due to Washington's failure to deal as promised with the PKK. European Union and NATO member states have also not taken sufficient action against PKK activities and organizations in Europe.

At an Iraqi neighbours conference in Istanbul on Saturday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki promised to cooperate with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, but it was not clear whether his promises would lead to action that would satisfy Turkish demands. "It is not in our capacity for us to capture the rebels," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

A top retired U.S. general, who until recently had been the United States special envoy for countering the PKK terrorist organization, admitted that a diplomatic process he had led against the PKK had failed to bring any visible success. Throughout his one-year tenure, Ralston had sought to promote a tripartite mechanism of cooperation among Turkey, the United States and Iraq for joint measures against the Iraq-based PKK.  "No," said Ralston, a former NATO supreme commander in Europe, when asked if the process had worked.

U.S. officials said that Ralston submitted his resignation after the Washington administration had declined to follow his advice on steps to be taken against the terrorist group, which has been attacking Turkish targets from bases in neighboring northern Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.