US, Turkey planning operations against Kurdish PKK
guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan
WASHINGTON ,-- The United States and Turkey
are preparing a covert military operation to
suppress Kurdish PKK guerrillas based in Kurdistan
region (northern Iraq) and capture their leaders,
the Washington Post reported Monday.
Robert Novak reported in The
Washington Post that the joint operation, whose
broad outlines have been presented to some members
of Congress, was aimed at preventing a Turkish
invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan.
US special forces will work with the Turkish army,
Novak says in his column, adding that the Bush
administration was trying to prevent another front
from opening in Iraq.
The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity in
Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam
Hussein, has alarmed Turkey, Novak points out.
Ankara has grown increasingly more uneasy about the
centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading
across international boundaries -- and chewing up
big pieces of Turkey, the article said.
Turkey has a well-trained, well-equipped army of
250,000 near the border,
facing some 4,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
fighters hiding in the mountains of Kurdistan
But significant cross-border operations could get
the PKK the support of the military forces of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, the best US ally in
Iraq, Novak pointed out.
The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey's
mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984 in a conflict
that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Rebels have stepped up their attacks this year,
while Ankara has massed troops on the border with
Iraq, fuelling speculation it will launch a
The plan was outlined in secret briefings on Capitol
Hill last week by Eric Edelman, undersecretary of
defense for policy, according to the report.
Edelman, a foreign service officer who once was US
ambassador to Turkey, said he was sure of success,
adding that the US role could be concealed and
always would be denied, the column said.
But some of the briefed lawmakers were left
wondering whether this was a wise policy for
handling the beleaguered Kurds, who have been
betrayed by Washington the US government in years
past, Novak points out.
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