New Turkish strikes against the PKK in Northern Iraq

Press review : week from October 6 to 10, 2008


Friday, the PKK has led an attack against barracks located a few kilometers from the Iraqi border and killed 17 soldiers serving in the base. This event and another attack in Diyarbakir on Wednesday push Ankara to strengthen its anti-terrorist crackdown. Let’s have a look at the international media to better understand the situation.

La Libre Belgique returned on Monday October 6 on the sad history of these barracks. Located “in the » triangle of death « between Iranian and Iraqi borders, the cantonment of Aktütün perched on a small flat suspended in dizzying precipices, is nearly indefensible. » Since 1992, he suffered five attacks with a total of 44 dead. Following the attack, the Staff admit more or less its weakness as he announced the relocation of several barracks, including that of Aktütün, because of their proximity to the Iraqi border.

Therein lays the real problem for Ankara: the Iraqi border that stretches 384 km and behind which a mountain range serves as the attacks of the PKK militants. AFP reports the speech delivered by Prime Minister Erdoðan on Wednesday proposing the creation of a buffer zone along the border. Considering the attack on Friday, the air strikes carried out last year in Kurdish territory and the ground in February do not appear to have borne fruit stressesLiberation. The French daily said also that these strikes are each time the occasion of tensions between Turkey and Iraq. Baghdad accuses Turkey of interference while the latter accuses Massoud Barzani, President of the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, not to control the area occupied by the PKK, even to protect the Kurdish separatist organization.

Washington is opposed to Turkish military incursions fearing the destabilization of the only region in Iraq unaffected by violence. The Herald Tribune highlights the very uncomfortable position of the United States with Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds among its best allies in the region.

« The vote – on Wednesday – was a formality” commented Le Figaro. Indeed, as expected, 511 deputies against only 18 voted in favor of a one-year extension of the mandate given to the army to conduct operations against the PKK in Northern Iraq. The new attack that occurred on Wednesday and which killed 4 policemen and a driver did reinforce that belief. But the French daily emphasizes freedom of action required by the military. They are requiring “the right to conduct searches without permission of a procurator, the freedom to intervene in areas controlled by the police, longer periods of detention … » Erdogan said that Turkey wouldn’t « turn back on democracy, human rights and freedoms », areas scrutinized by DG Enlargement of the European Commission.

Along with this rise of power of the army, the relationship between the military and the DTP, the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party are getting worst. The non-governmental information center Info Türk says that since past July, the military refused to sit in Parliament because they are refusing the presence of 21 members of the DTP. These deputies are also the only ones not to be invited to events organized by the army.

Hürriyet reported this Friday that the first air strikes took place in northern Iraq later in the day Thursday. It targeted groups of militants of the PKK. The number of fatalities was not provided. The High Council for the anti-terrorist struggle met Thursday and will meet again next Tuesday to decide what action to take. The civilian and military leaders tried to reassure by certifying that there would be no turning back on efforts in the context of accession to the European Union.