Iraq Press Roundup

By HIBA DAWOOD, UPI Correspondent  |  Feb. 8, 2008 at 3:39 PM
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The Kurdish Al Taakhi newspaper on Friday carried an editorial titled "Has the U.S. OK'd Turkish airstrikes on northern Iraq?"

The editorial said the Turkish assault on rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, was preplanned.

The paper said a 30-strong Turkish force entered northern Iraq at the same time the United States denied giving permission to airstrikes preventing more hostility from the Iraqi government and people of Iraq.

"The reality is that the U.S. forces are in a critical position as they are responsible for ensuring the regional sovereignty of Iraq," the paper said.

The paper said that in 2003, Turkish authorities said they won't enter Iraq without taking permission from the United States unless it was to fight terrorism.

According to the agreement signed between Turkish Prime Minister Rajab Tayyip Erdogan and President Bush, the United States has given its ally Turkey information on the PKK's movements inside Iraq.

"The United States gave permission to attack certain sites in northern Iraq," the paper alleged.

It said that a series of military communication channels had been set up between Turkish and U.S. General Staff, including Gen. David Petraeus and his deputy, Gen. James Carter.

The paper called the PKK "a terrorist organization that includes 3,500-5,000 ethnic Kurds from the less-developed southeast of Turkey, on the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Iran."

"Turkey has carried out a bloody war against the PKK in 1984 killing 37,000," it said.

"Although Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, was imprisoned by Turkey with the help of the U.S. in 1999 and was judged and kept in Turkish prisons since then, the PKK, led by Ocalan's assistants, continues its operations in northern Iraq."

It said the PKK wants autonomy for the region that includes 15 million to 20 million Kurds in Turkey, and 10 million to 12 million in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"The relationship between the PKK and the Kurdistan Regional Government is difficult to define," the paper said.

The editorial said "American weapons were used during the latest PKK attacks against southeastern Turkish bases, which made Turkish authorities learn that the United States was involved in assisting terrorists groups in Iraq."

It added that Turkey's limited military operations with F-16s and land forces and artillery attacks on rural areas in Kurdistan will not destabilize Iraq or strain the PKK.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is right when she assured that the PKK matter should be politically solved, yet such a solution is unlikely to be found," it said.

The paper said while the United States is involved in a military war against terrorism, it becomes illogical that it will prevent an ally like Turkey from carrying a war against the PKK.

"Supporting the Turks in their war against the PKK, the United States could harm the long-term relationship with the Iraqi Kurds who act as a buffer between the angry central government and the United States," the paper said.

It commented that the Kurdish government was concerned that an operation against the PKK would destabilize the peaceful Kurdistan region and discourage investors.

The paper said the central government, especially Shiites such as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has doubts toward the Turks' plans regarding the northern oil-rich fields, adding the fact Turkey is Sunni majority shows they had a positive relationship with Saddam Hussein.

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