November 13, 2007

Turks Use Air Raids On PKK

Turkey promised not to invade Iraq after tense negotiations -- but they didn't pledge to ignore the PKK, either. Turkish warplanes bombed PKK targets inside Iraq but caused no casualties. The raids underscore the critical issue of cross-border terrorism and its potential for disaster:

Turkish warplanes bombed three Iraqi villages near the border town of Zakho in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday but caused no casualties, a security official said.

The bombings were carried out before dawn on villages known to be frequented by fighters of the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Batoufa and Darkar districts of northern Iraq, the Kurdish official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He said a small disused police checkpoint was shelled in a separate incident.

The US promised to share real-time intel with Turkey on PKK movements and operations as part of the stand-down last week. It's possible that the US coordinated efforts on these strikes and helped keep casualties down as a result. One would presume that the Turks would not send warplanes over areas controlled by the US military without some kind of warning to avoid a fight between Turkish and American pilots patrolling the area.

The Turks mean business in regard to the PKK, and it's hard to blame them. The PKK has conducted terrorist attacks against civilians, police, and guerilla warfare against military targets. We would certainly not stand for these actions if they were conducted by al-Qaeda in Iraq or one of the native insurgencies or sectarian militias. We would strike back, hard, against them in Iraq. We might even hit targets in Syria if we had solid intel that they originated there.

Kurdish political leaders have to put pressure on the PKK to cease operations inside Iraq. The Kurds have the most to lose from the Turkish onslaught that will follow such attacks. They have a stable and prosperous economy and have gone much farther than the rest of the nation in rebuilding their cities and towns. If the Turks force them into the hills, all those gains will be lost -- and they will have no one but themselves to blame for it.


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