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Monday, February 25, 2008

Turkish army in Southern Kurdistan (1)

I've been following as much as possible the latest Turkish invasion of Southern Kurdistan (Iraq). I say "as much as possible" because there seems to be a blanking of information not just by Turkey but also by the Kurdish autonomous government in Kirkuk. Journalists have been forbidden to head to the border to report on the invasion. That doesn't mean that Southern Kurdistan is happy about the Turkish intervention and in fact there was a standoff when Turkish troops stationed in Iraq (since 1991) attempted to leave their bases to join the operations: the Kurdish peshmergas surrounded them and eventually they had to turn back.

One thing that makes little sense to me is why these operations are being carried out in the midst of Winter. The PKK militias are deep in the mountains and these are true ice cubes in this time of the year, not the best scenario for the Turkish army to make fast gains, right?

It is worth mentioning that the Kurdish authorities at Kirkuk and the PKK do not really get along: historically regional and global powers have played the Kurds selectively against their rivals and the parties in power in Southern Kurdistan, supported by Turkey and the USA historically are not sympathetic of USSR and Syria backed PKK (PKK stands for Kurdistan Workers Party, though nowadays they are less Communist than they used to). Nevertheless the sister organization PJAK, that acts in Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) has support from the USA and is not listed by them as "terrorist organization".

Right now, the situation seems to be as follows: the PKK has shooted down a Turkish helicopter, while the Turks have destroyed 5 bridges in northern Iraq. Casualties' figures are confuse: the Turkish soldiers killed by the PKK may be between 15 and 47, depending who you believe; Turkey claims 112 PKK casualties but I suspect many are actually civilians (if the figure is not inflated).

One of the five bridges bombed by Turkey and map of Kurdistan (Kurdish ethnic majority).

Ref: Al Jazeera: 'Turkey ignores Iraq pull-out plea'.

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