July 19, 2006

Turkey and the Kurds

By Callimachus

The latest lede from AP faces both ways:
ANKARA, Turkey - The Turkish military is moving forward with plans to send forces into northern Iraq to clear out Turkish Kurdish guerrilla bases, the prime minister said Wednesday. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said officials were holding talks with the United States and Iraq in an attempt to defuse tensions.
Posted by Callimachus at July 19, 2006 05:36 PM

I served two tours in Turkey, and spent a lot of time over two decades at Diyarbakır and Incirlik.

The statements by Erdogan are about one thing only -- his jousting with the Turkish General Staff, which once ran the country but which has been losing power, prestige, and influence for more than a decade.

There isn't one chance in a million that Ankara will enter into Iraq. The population doesn't want it. The European oriented factions doesn't want it. The Islamacists don't want it. And the military, and this is a fact, is frightened to actually do it.

The cold fact is the Turkish army fought the Kurds to a draw on Turkey's own soil. Ankara had a 15:1 advantage in forces, highly advanced weaponry, and total air supremacy. They fought a force armed with aging ak-47's -- and they did poorly despite all these advantages. Anyone who has seen the US after actions and analysis knows that the only tactics with a modicum of success were razing entire villages through attacks with helicopter gunships and using co-opted peshmerga groups with promises of border blackmarket concessions. both of those options are out in Iraq.

In terms of soldiering skill the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq make the PKK look like a bunch of babies. There are curently about 100,000 Iraqi Peshmerga formally under arms in Iraq.

The Turks aren't going into Iraq, posturing is one thing, getting their a$$es kicked is another. The defeat they would suffer would be a much bigger threat to their own internal problems (which are just below the surface) than the inevitable emergence of a Kurdish autonomous area and a probable kurdish state in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan.

Posted by: Craig at July 19, 2006 08:08 PM


Don't they have to ask the UN before they do that?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 20, 2006 02:08 AM

I saw this today:

"Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul has warned of a looming anti-west backlash among his country's citizens due to the EU hesitation over Ankara's membership in the European club as well as US approach in the Middle East."

Where does Turkey's public opinion rest on all these issues?

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 20, 2006 08:25 AM

the whole thing is not comparable to israel
the pkk is not recognized by iraq or the k.r.g
there are a lot of tensions between them
but the hizbullah is part of the lebanese government , there is an un-resolution , calling for disarment of the hizbullah
there is a proclamation, by the lebanese goverment , accepting the hizbullah as a military force , defending lebanon
and israel called their action, an aggresive act , or act of war by lebabon, by another state , that is their justification
the pkk is in fact a turkish organisation
its members are citizien of the turkish republic and not iraqis , whereass the hizbulah are lebanese
the turkish government has never considered to talk to the pkk and has always looked for a military solution , i remember very well how turkey thought that it had prevailed in 1999 after the capture of adullah öcalan
since then , it has not made real reforms , and turkey cannot resolve the kurdish problem,solely by implemeting some tiny steps and the refuse to talk to their counterparts , which is the pkk and will be
israel has always tried to talk to hizbullah , but they refused , but the pkk wants actually to be recognized by turkey
and turkey want to make out of an internal problem, an international fight
it wants us to fight their enemies and kill our brothers
i mean , there are 10000 pkk fighters , 10000 families behind them in turkey
we should kill our brothers and create a war in southern kurdistan , only to please turkey
so we will losse strenght and alow them to impose their will on us or they want to invade it and occcupy it
we are able to fight the outdated turkish military and their ill trained soldiers
even the small hizbullah with of course advanced weapons can fight one of the most modern armies of the world , abe believe me or not m but the kurds have a lot of ammu and weapons in their stockpiles and modern anti tank weapons and artillery to fight , bunkers, which the turkish airforce cannot penerate and of course 100.000 men
turkey cannot use their supperity in man power
because one army is in cyprus , another one or two need to be stationed in turkey to quell the pkk inside turkey and all there will be left is just one of their four armies to fight the peshmerga , then it will 100.000 turkish soldiers against 100.000 kurdish , even if turkey will prevail, it will have hge losses
i mean what will turkey do to resolve the kurdish problem inside turkey
nothing of cpourse , because they will not fell the pressure to do so , it i just the pkk
turkey has destroyed the whole countryside , killed thousands of people but blames everything that happens to the pkk ,
only because the pkk is in war , you can blame the kiling of the village population by the army on the pkk
but that is what turkey is doing all the time
there is a common ground and it should be used
we in southern kurdistan do not want to be hijacked by internal problems of turkey and defend a cause , turkey so called security for the sake of more oppression by turkey gainst our brothers in the north
instead turkey should talk to them , tell them that thre an amnesty accept them as a political force inside turkey
and i am relly suspicious about it
why is possible for the pkk ti kill 17 soldiers in three days , over two yeras , they werent officially able to kill more then one or two soldiers in faight and not more then four in a bomb attack
i mean , iknow for sue that the turks have always falisified theirb losses but this time , they seem to look for a cause , at the same as the war in lebanon starts ,
we as kurds do not hate turks ,in private we have always a very good understanding
but if the turkish government is going on like this , it will risk , that the situation will become like the balkans , which will result in the end into mass killing and genocide , there is always a tendency to underestimate kurds but the reality is , that the kurdish population is huge , that thre is already a tense situation inturkey and the gap betwwen turky , be it economic or militarily is not that huge , as betwwen palestinians and israelis
thre are no walls between us

Posted by: kurdi at July 20, 2006 02:55 PM

More treasonous, seditious, separatist chest-beating... Ugh.
G-d willing, a semi autonomous "Southern Kurdistan" will be an attractive enough place for Kurdish Turks to migrate to (that is, those who wish for the destruction of Turkey). That's not a racist remark- it's... what do we Americans call it?... "LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT".

Posted by: Amerikan Turk at July 20, 2006 08:35 PM

"Amerikan Turk"

I looked at your blog and you continually compare your ethnic minority positon in the US to that of the Kurds in Turkey. Your love it or leavit reflects this.

It is a bankupt position, and this is because you leanred your history of the Kurds from Turkish sources, where it is illegal to present a true history.

that makes you one of the few people on the planet that don't know that the Kurds are an autochthonous population -- they are not migrants to the area accepted by Turkey and accepting the rule of the Seljuks, Ottomans or modern turks. they were there long before.

You I am sure don't know thay are mentioned in Xenophone and have been there two or three tousand years before the Turks established rule over them?

The love it or leave it also implies moral equivelance between the US and the Government of Tureky. The PKK arose when the govenment of Turkey was a military dicatorship which murdered millions of of Kurds, Armenians, other minorites and even its own ethnic Turks.

The Kurds are the best ally in theregion after Israel. No one dobuts this.

Posted by: II at July 27, 2006 09:35 AM

Kurds are WHOSE best ally? You're delusional. Money talks and BS walks.. Israel and the US is friendly with whomever has something they want or need. What do the Kurds put on the table which makes them oh-so-much-better an ally than Turkey? I am asking you sincerely..

All of your comments are old news to me friend. You're preaching to the choir.. What turns my crank is that all of these historical facts about Kurds do nothing to change the modern day sovereignty of Turkey's borders, or the right of all Turks to live free from the threat of PKK terrorism which is aimed at dividing and destroying Turkey. For these reasons, "Love it or leave it" is quite a valid position to take, especially for those of us who live in the now, not in the distant past..

Posted by: Amerikan Turk at August 1, 2006 08:44 PM

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