Archive for the ‘Turkey’ Category

Double-crossing in Kurdistan By Pepe Escobar

November 2, 2007

Double-crossing in Kurdistan By Pepe Escobar

By Pepe Escobar
ICH
11/01/07 “Asia Times


The George W Bush administration would not flinch to betray its allies in Iraqi Kurdistan if that entailed a US “win” in the Iraq quagmire. And it would not flinch to leave its Turkish North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies in the wilderness as well – if that entailed further destabilization of Iran. Way beyond the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) vs Turkey skirmish, one of these two double-crossing scenarios will inevitably take place. Washington simply cannot have its kebab and eat it too.

The Bush administration’s double standards are as glaring as meteor impacts. When, in the summer of 2006, Israel used the capture of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah to unleash a pre-programmed devastating war on Lebanon, destroying great swathes of the country, the Bush administration immediately gave the Israelis the green light. When 12 Turkish soldiers are killed and eight captured by PKK guerrillas based in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Bush administration urges Ankara to take it easy.

The “war on terror” is definitely not an equal-opportunity business. That has prompted Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek to mischievously remark, regarding Turkey, “It’s as if an intruder has gatecrashed the closed circle of ‘we’, the domain of those who hold the de facto monopoly on military humanitarianism.”

The US and Israeli establishment regards Hezbollah as a group of evil super-terrorists. But the PKK consists of just “minor” terrorists, and very useful ones at that, since the US Central Intelligence Agency is covertly financing and arming the PJAK (Party for Free Life in Kurdistan), the Iranian arm of the PKK, whose mission is to “liberate” parts of northwest Iran.

Not accidentally, the new PKK overdrive coincides with US – and also Israeli – covert support for the PJAK. Israel has not only invested a lot in scores of business ventures in Iraqi Kurdistan, it has also extensively trained Kurdish peshmerga special commandos, who could easily share their knowledge with their PKK cousins.

The new PKK offensive coincides with a PKK flush with new mortars, anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and even anti-aircraft missiles. And most of all, the PKK drive coincides with the mysteriously vanished scores of light weapons the Pentagon sent to Iraq with no serial numbers to identify 97% of them.

The person responsible for this still unsolved mystery is none other than the counterinsurgency messiah and top commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. The suspicion that the Pentagon never wanted these weapons to be traced in the first place cannot be easily dismissed. Either that or the PKK has been very active lately in the black market for light weapons.

The Turkish-Israeli plan

US corporate media totally ignore the US/Israeli coddling of the PJAK – and by extension the PKK. The larger context is lost. No one bothers to ask how come the Bush administration seems to be such a huge fan of a greater Kurdistan.

As much as the PJAK – and the PKK – use American largesse for greater Kurdistan ends, the Bush administration uses especially the PJAK for its wider “war on terror” target: the destabilization of Iran. Turkish-US relations in this case are no more than a casualty of war. Now the Turks are up not only against Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), but also the US and the European Union in Brussels. And in addition, the PKK denies it has attacked Turkey out of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkey has angrily reacted to the US Senate proposal for “soft” partition of Iraq. This is the famous US “Plan B” for Iraq – more an “A” than a “B” because it was floated years ago. And the authors are Israel and … the Turks themselves.

The plan has been extensively documented, among others, by the Center for Research at the Kurdish Library in New York. According to its “Kurdish Life” newsletter, “Back in 1990, Turkey’s then prime minister Turgut Ozal made a deal with the US and Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. Masterminded by an Israel obsessed with breaking up the ’sea of Arabs’ in the Middle East, the plan has proceeded apace ever since, influencing and directing virtually all of Washington’s political and military tactics in Iraq. And yet even today it remains nobody’s business.”

The Israeli mastermind was Leslie Gelb, a relatively moderate Zionist. The plan duly featured in the Turkish press at the time. It proposed a federal Iraq, with a Kurdistan, a section of Kirkuk and Mosul for the Turkomans; and the rest, in fact most of the country, for “the Arabs”, Sunni and Shi’ite alike.

To get their autonomous mini-state, the Iraqi Kurds just had to guarantee to smash the PKK. As for Turkish Kurds, the Turkish prime minister’s spokesman said at the time that since “two-thirds of Turkey’s Kurds are scattered through the country” and the rest “fully integrated into Turkish society”, they would have no business dreaming about autonomy.

Barzani and Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Kurdish leaders, rival warlords and wily opportunists, duly fulfilled their part of the deal – especially in October 1992 during a joint offensive with the Turkish army against the PKK. They may have sold out the PKK 15 years ago, but that won’t happen again; at least that’s what the two have vocally promised. For their part, the PJAK-PKK have been tremendously helpful for the Bush administration agenda of “destabilizing” Iran.

The Kurdish Life newsletter argues that the cause of Turkey’s current woes is not the US or the Iraqi Kurds. It’s a self-inflicted wound, all spelled out in Ozal’s plan. “With his untimely death in 1993, the plan was revised, with an autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan to include Kirkuk, and more, and the remainder of Iraq to be divided between Sunni and Shi’ite Arabs. The Republicans of the Bush administration cemented it into the Iraqi constitution under the rubric ‘federation’.”

That’s no less than the “soft” partition the US Senate recently voted for. That’s the future Washington wants for Iraqi Kurdistan. And that’s the scheme the US – and Israel – don’t want their ally

Turkey to spoil by attacking the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. No wonder the Turkish leadership – not to mention Turkish public opinion – is fuming.

Chronicle of an invasion foretold

To compound this misery, the much-touted Turkish invasion has been in the making for months. As early as March, Bush administration officials were promising the Turks that US special forces would dislodge the PKK from the Qandil mountains. Nothing happened.

In April, Barzani was threatening “to take responsibility for our response” if the Turks interfered with a referendum on the integration of oil-rich Kirkuk into Kurdistan. Also in April, the US prohibited Turkish cross-border raids, according to the Turkish daily Sabah. The massing of Turkish soldiers at the Iraqi border started in May.

Then in June, Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit virtually spelled out in public what this was all about, “There is not only the PKK in northern Iraq. There is Massoud Barzani as well. Turkey cannot afford an independent Kurdish state headed by Barzani on its southern border.” Barzani – who for Turkish popular media is the country’s public enemy number one – answered back with a startling concept; he said that if Turkey invaded, “We would deal with it as an Iraqi issue.”

So what kind of Kurdish “sovereignty” is this? Iraqi Kurds detest, and ignore, the Baghdad government like the plague, and prize their independence; but as soon as they’re threatened, they instantly seek refuge under Baghdad’s (clipped) wings.

Kurdistan and its mountainous 75,000 square kilometers is not really Iraq. Baghdad is an entity far, far away. Iraqi Kurdistan has its own constitution, parliament, anthem, legal code, language, currency and media – and most of all the well-trained peshmerga army. A democracy it is not – because virtually everything is subordinated to the two warlords turned politicians, Barzani and Talabani.

The KRG has paid the price for Kurdistan as a “model” of a functioning Iraq by collaborating no-holds-barred with the US since the early 1990s. In June, Barzani confirmed that the PKK is an Iraqi problem, “A Turkish invasion would be first of all an attack on Iraqi sovereignty, and then an attack on the Kurds.” Following Barzani’s logic, since Iraq is under occupation, the Turks would be actually invading a colonial possession of the US. Thus it should be Petraeus to confront the Turks about what they’re up to. Washington in a way has proved its point: Iraqi Kurdistan is a fragile entity that only exists because it always depended on American protection.

Turkey and Iran, united

Kurdistan’s pull in Washington is guaranteed thanks largely to Qubad Talabani, son of President Jalal Talabani, also known in Kurdistan as “Uncle Jalal”. While dad sells Kurdistan as an indisputable success story, son lobbies furiously, to the extent that Frank Lavin, US under secretary of commerce for international trade, recently went to Kurdistan to promote it as a gateway for US businesses in Iraq.

But to believe that Ankara will tolerate an oil-rich, water-rich Kurdish mini-state on its southeast border, creating a magnet for Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Iran and Syria, is to believe in miracles. Not only Turkey and Iran are vehemently against it, but also Saudi Arabia (the House of Saud believing that a Kurdistan counterpart – Shi’iteistan in southern Iraq – would be subservient to Iran). What the Bush administration’s games have achieved so far is to unite Turkey and Iran on the issue.

Turkey regards the Kurds just like China regards Tibetans and Uighurs; they are part of a unitary Turkish state and have no right to autonomy. If Washington condemns China for its repression of Tibetans and Uighurs, it should behave the same way regarding Turkey. Not only will this not happen, but now the Americans need the Turks more than the Turks need the Americans.

A true measure of White House and neo-conservative desperation to facilitate the relentless surge towards war on Iran is whether it would be willing to plunge Iraqi Kurdistan into war, compromise the Turkish-Iraq corridor (through wich flows 70% of US supplies to Iraq) and future US Big Oil investments in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Barzani keeps insisting he and Washington are in sync, both wanting a peaceful solution for this royal mess; but he always points out “we are a nation” which will not accept Turkish threats.

US plans for Iraqi Kurdistan, stretching back to that 1990 Israeli-devised Turkish plan, are in jeopardy. And once again all because of the enemy within.

Washington played the ethnic card in Afghanistan, pitting Tajiks against Pashtuns; the result, apart from a never-ending war in Afghanistan, was that Pashtuns on both sides of the border united and are now destabilizing even further the US ally, Pakistan.

Washington played the Kurd card to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and as a beachhead for its control of the country after the invasion. Not only Iraq turned into a quagmire, Washington helped to plunge Kurdistan into the line of (Turkish) fire.

There’s no evidence these lessons have been learned. No matter what happens in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Bush administration will still insist on the ethnic card to precipitate regime change in Iran.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd.

Turkey approves Iraq incursion

October 17, 2007

Iraq’s PM has requested his Turkish counterpart for a diplomatic solution to the issue [EPA]
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Turkey says the PKK enjoys free movement in northern Iraq, is tolerated by the region’s Kurdish leaders and obtains weapons and explosives there for attacks across the border in Turkey.

 

The US has advised against passing the motion saying that Turkish action could destabilise northern Iraq.

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Big win

 

Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Philips reporting from Turkey said that 507 of the 550 MPs voted for the motion.

Philips said 19 MPs voted against the motion while some others abstained.

“It means it was not only the Kurdish TDP opposition party MPs who rejected the motiion. But the voting also points to some uneasiness among ruling party MPs and some abstentions could have come from MPs who are from Kurdish south-east,” he said.

George Bush, the US president, has meanwhile strongly urged Turkey not to carry out cross-border strikes.

“We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don’t think it is in their interests to send troops into Iraq,” he said at a White House press conference on Wednesday.

“There’s a better way to deal with the issue than having the Turks send massive troops into the country – massive additional troops into the country,” the president said.

Iraqi plea

In a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, told Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, that Baghdad was “absolutely determined” to end the presence of Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

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He assured Erdogan that he had given orders to the autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq to take action against the PKK.

Turkey’s Anatolia state news agency said al-Maliki had also asked for “a new opportunity” to help resolve the issue through diplomatic means and proposed talks.

Erdogan was said to have responded that he was willing to meet Iraqi officials to discuss the issue, but warned that Ankara cannot tolerate “further waste of time”, the agency said.

Turkey and Iraq signed an accord last month to combat the PKK but failed to agree on a clause allowing Turkish troops to engage in “hot pursuit”  against fighters fleeing into Iraqi territory as they did regularly in the 1990s.

Peaceful solution

Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, added his voice to those urging Turkey not to launch an attack against the PKK in Iraq following a meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, on Wednesday.

Talabani said: “We hope the wisdom of our friend [Turkish] prime minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will be so active that there will be no military intervention.”

The Iraqi president said his country wanted to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

“We are ready to co-operate with the Turkish authorities and we are for activating the committee formed by America, Turkey and Iraq to solve this problem.

“We consider the activities of the PKK against the interests of the Kurdish people and against the interests of Turkey.

“We have asked the PKK to stop fighting and end military activity,” he said.

Kurdish warning

The autonomous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq warned Turkish MPs on Wednesday that the planned vote to authorise an armed incursion would be illegal.

Jamal Abdullah, a regional government spokesman, said: “We see the problem [of the PKK] as a Turkish internal problem.

“If the Turkish parliament gives the authorisation to the army to enter another country, we consider this illegal and a violation of international law and the United Nations’ charter.”

Abdullah said the Kurdish government supported diplomatic efforts by Baghdad to bring an end to the crisis, but said that any deals signed with the Turks involving the region should be approved by the regional authorities in Arbil.

“If a deal is related to the political, economic, social region of Kurdistan, it needs to be approved by the Kurdistan parliament,” he said.

Mahmud Othman, a senior Kurdish politican, said: “PKK members are present in the Kurdistan region but the regional government is preventing them from carrying out any attacks against Turkish targets.

“The Iraqi government is taking a position of giving in to Turkey. The military is not a solution, it will worsen the situation.

“I hope the Turkish government will review and reverse its decision [in favour of military action] and start dialogue with the central Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish government to find a political solution.”

Othman said that the Turkish government had refused a proposal from the Iraqi Kurdish government to offer an amnesty to PKK fighters.

Syrian backing

Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, has backed Turkey, Syria’s neighbour, in its tough stance against the PKK.

On a vist to Turkey on Wednesday, al-Assad said: “Without a doubt, we support the decisions taken by the Turkish government against terrorism and we accept them as a legitimate right of Turkey.”

Opposition to a Kurdish state has pushed Turkey closer to Syria and Iran, with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Syria signing an agreement on boosting economic, political, security and energy co-operation during al-Assad’s trip.

The Syrian president said US forces in Iraq were the main source of “terrorist activities” in that country.

In video

 

Al Jazeera’s interview with Kurdish separatist leader Murat Karayilan

In an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Murat Karayilan, the head of PKK operations in northern Iraq, told Al Jazeera that the group would confront Turkish forces if they are attacked.

Karayilan said: “If Turkey is going to use violence against our movement, our leader and our people, then we will respond.

Speaking from his camp in the Qandil mountains straddling the Iraq-Turkey border, he said: “It seems Turkey is preparing for an attack, then we have to resist.”

Karayilan said Turkey was using the threat of military action against the PKK to put pressure on Iraqi Kurdistan.

 
 
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Turkey prepares for raids into Iraq

October 10, 2007

Turkey suspects about 3,000 PKK members
are hiding in northern Iraq [EPA]
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“To put an end to the terrorist organisation operating in the neighbouring country [Iraq], the order has been given to take every kind of measure, legal, economic, political, including also a cross-border operation if necessary,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Kurdish rebels have killed 15 soldiers in separate attacks in the past two days.

There is increasing anger in the country over the rebels’ ability to find refuge in neighbouring Iraq.

Shelling claims

The military said on Sunday it had shelled an area near Iraq to try to stop PKK members from escaping across the border after an attack in the southeast province of Sirnak that killed 13 soldiers.

However, residents in northern Iraq claim the Turkish shelling is landing well within their territory.

Kurdish farmers displayed craters on Tuesday they said were left by artillery shells that hit close to the border.

Ankara has not confirmed any shelling of Iraqi territory.

Local officials in the Iraqi Kurdish-run northern region, feared the shelling was a sign of more to come.

In the city of Arbil, 350km north of Baghdad, the Kurdish governor warned Turkey on Tuesday that its troops would sustain heavy losses if they began operations in the region.

“I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue

Sean McCormack, US state department

Nozad Hadi, the region’s governor, said: “If the Turkish troops decided to enter into the Iraq’s Kurdistan territories, their decision would be wrong and they would sustain heavy casualties and material losses.”

Turkey’s parliament would have to authorise any large-scale military operation into Iraq, but troops could pursue rebels over the border in smaller, so-called “hot pursuit” operations without such authorisation.

Ankara has long claimed the right to stage such limited operations under international law as legitimate self-defence and claims about 3,000 PKK fighters are currently in northern Iraq.

Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group began its armed campaign for a homeland in the southeast of the country in 1984.

Public pressure

The US said it supported Turkey and Iraq in their efforts to combat the PKK but warned against military incursions from Ankara.

“If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it and I am not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go, the way to resolve the issue,” Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the state department, said on Tuesday.

Asked whether Washington had urged restraint on both sides, McCormack said sovereign states had to make their own decisions about how best to defend themselves.

“We have counselled both in public and private for many, many months the idea that it is important to work cooperatively to resolve this issue,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Yusuf Sharif in Ankara says Turkey is unlikely to send troops into its neighbour in the near future given that it is due to host a regional conference next month with Iraqi representatives among the attendees.

Sharif also said that the government in Baghdad wants time for a recent security agreement signed with Turkey to take effect.

Yusuf Kanli from the Turkish Daily News said while there was public pressure on the Erdogan government to show it was able to deal effectively with PKK rebels it needed to differentiate between the group and the wider Kurdish issue.

“You can not end this kind of terrorism through military action, there are other factors to consider such as political, and social elements that intermingle,” he told Al jazeera.

“But Turkey can not in any way ignore the need to provide security for its country. They have to differentiate between PKK and  the Kurdish problem.”

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia

September 25, 2007

The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia

Global Research, September 23, 2007

“But if the middle space [Russia and the former Soviet Union] rebuffs the West [the European Union and America], becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South [Middle East] or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor [China], then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite. Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners [the Franco-German entente] from its perch on the western periphery [Europe] would automatically spell the end of America’s participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space [e.g. Russia].”

-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)

 

Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” These precepts of physics can also be used in the social sciences, specifically with reference to social relations and geo-politics.

America and Britain, the Anglo-American alliance, have engaged in an ambitious project to control global energy resources. Their actions have resulted in a series of complicated reactions, which have established a Eurasian-based coalition which is preparing to challenge the Anglo-American axis.

 

Encircling Russia and China: Anglo-American Global Ambitions Backfire

 

“Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.”

 

-Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in Germany (February 11, 2007)

 

What American leaders and officials called the “New World Order” is what the Chinese and Russians consider a “Unipolar World.” This is the vision or hallucination, depending on perspective, that has bridged the Sino-Russian divide between Beijing and Moscow.

China and Russia are well aware of the fact that they are targets of the Anglo-American alliance. Their mutual fears of encirclement have brought them together. It is no accident that in the same year that NATO bombarded Yugoslavia, President Jiang Zemin of China and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia made an anticipated joint declaration at a historic summit in December of 1999 that revealed that China and the Russian Federation would join hands to resist the “New World Order.” The seeds for this Sino-Russian declaration were in fact laid in 1996 when both sides declared that they opposed the global imposition of single-state hegemony.

 

Both Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin stated that all nation-states should be treated equally, enjoy security, respect each other’s sovereignty, and most importantly not interfere in the internal affairs of other nation-states. These statements were directed at the U.S. government and its partners.

The Chinese and Russians also called for the establishment of a more equitable economic and political global order. Both nations also indicated that America was behind separatist movements in their respective countries. They also underscored American-led amibitions to balkanize and finlandize the nation-states of Eurasia. Influential Americans such as Zbigniew Brzezinski had already advocated for de-centralizing and eventually dividing up the Russian Federation.

 

Both the Chinese and Russians issued a statement warning that the creation of an international missile shield and the contravention of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) would destabilize the international environment and polarize the globe. In 1999, the Chinese and Russians were aware of what was to come and the direction that America was headed towards. In June 2002, less than a year before the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror,” George W. Bush Jr. announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.

On July 24, 2001, less than two months before September 11, 2001, China and Russia signed the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. The latter is a softly worded mutual defence pact against the U.S., NATO, and the U.S. sponsored Asian military network which was surrounding China. [1]

The military pact of the Shanghai Treaty Organization (SCO) also follows the same softly worded format. It is also worth noting that Article 12 of the 2001 Sino-Russian bilateral treaty stipulates that China and Russia will work together to maintain the global strategic balance, “observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability,” and “promote the process of nuclear disarmament.” [2] This seems to be an insinuation about a nuclear threat posed from the United States.

 

Standing in the Way of America and Britain: A “Chinese-Russian-Iranian Coalition”

 

As a result of the Anglo-American drive to encircle and ultimately dismantle China and Russia, Moscow and Beijing have joined ranks and the SCO has slowly evolved and emerged in the heart of Eurasia as a powerful international body.

The main objectives of the SCO are defensive in nature. The economic objectives of the SCO are to integrate and unite Eurasian economies against the economic and financial onslaught and manipulation from the “Trilateral” of North America, Western Europe, and Japan, which controls significant portions of the global economy.

The SCO charter was also created, using Western national security jargon, to combat “terrorism, separatism, and extremism.” Terrorist activities, separatist movements, and extremist movements in Russia, China, and Central Asia are all forces traditionally nurtured, funded, armed, and covertly supported by the British and the U.S. governments. Several separatist and extremist groups that have destabilized SCO members even have offices in London.

 

Iran, India, Pakistan, and Mongolia are all SCO observer members. The observer status of Iran in the SCO is misleading. Iran is a de facto member. The observer status is intended to hide the nature of trilateral cooperation between Iran, Russia, and China so that the SCO cannot be labeled and demonized as an anti-American or anti-Western military grouping.

 

The stated interests of China and Russia are to ensure the continuity of a “Multi-Polar World.” Zbigniew Brzezinski prefigured in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives and warned against the creation or “emergence of a hostile [Eurasian-based] coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” [3] He also called this potential Eurasian coalition an “‘antihegemonic’ alliance” that would be formed from a “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” with China as its linchpin. [4] This is the SCO and several Eurasian groups that are connected to the SCO.

 

In 1993, Brzezinski wrote “In assessing China’s future options, one has to consider also the possibility that an economically successful and politically self-confident China — but one which feels excluded from the global system and which decides to become both the advocate and the leader of the deprived states of the world — may decide to pose not only an articulate doctrinal but also a powerful geopolitical challenge to the dominant trilateral world [a reference to the economic front formed by North America, Western Europe, and Japan].” [5]

Brzezinski warns that Beijing’s answer to challenging the global status quo would be the creation of a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition: “For Chinese strategists, confronting the trilateral coalition of America and Europe and Japan, the most effective geopolitical counter might well be to try and fashion a triple alliance of its own, linking China with Iran in the Persian Gulf/Middle East region and with Russia in the area of the former Soviet Union [and Eastern Europe].” [6] Brzezinski goes on to say that the Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition, which he moreover calls an “antiestablishmentarian [anti-establishmentarian] coalition,” could be a potent magnet for other states [e.g., Venezuela] dissatisfied with the [global] status quo.” [7]

 

Furthermore, Brzezinski warned in 1997 that “The most immediate task [for the U.S.] is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.” [8] It may be that his warnings were forgotten, because the U.S. has been repealed from Central Asia and U.S. forces have been evicted from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

 

“Velvet Revolutions” Backfire in Central Asia

 

Central Asia was the scene of several British-sponsored and American-sponsored attempts at regime change. The latter were characterised by velvet revolutions similar to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia.

These velvet revolutions financed by the U.S. failed in Central Asia, aside from Kyrgyzstan where there had been partial success with the so-called Tulip Revolution.

As a result the U.S. government has suffered major geo-strategic setbacks in Central Asia. All of Central Asia’s leaders have distanced themselves from America.

Russia and Iran have also secured energy deals in the region. America’s efforts, over several decades, to exert a hegemonic role in Central Asia seem to have been reversed overnight. The U.S. sponsored velvet revolutions have backfired. Relations between Uzbekistan and the U.S. were especially hard hit.

 

Uzbekistan is under the authoritarian rule of President Islam Karamov. Starting in the second half of the 1990s President Karamov was enticed into bringing Uzbekistan into the fold of the Anglo-American alliance and NATO. When there was an attempt on President Karamov’s life, he suspected the Kremlin because of his independent policy stance. This is what led Uzbekistan to leave CSTO. But Islam Karamov, years later, changed his mind as to who was attempting to get rid of him.

 

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Uzbekistan represented a major obstacle to any renewed Russian control of Central Asia and was virtually invulnerable to Russian pressure; this is why it was important to secure Uzbekistan as an American protectorate in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan also has the largest military force in Central Asia.  In 1998, Uzbekistan held war games with NATO troops in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan was becoming heavily militarized in the same manner as Georgia was in the Caucasus. The U.S. gave Uzbekistan huge amounts of financial aid to challenge the Kremlin in Central Asia and also provided training to Uzbek forces.

 

With the launching of the “Global War on Terror,” in 2001, Uzbekistan, an Anglo-American ally, immediately offered bases and military facilities to the U.S. in Karshi-Khanabad.

The leadership of Uzbekistan already knew the direction the “Global War on Terror” would take. To the irritation of the Bush Jr. Administration, the Uzbek President formulated a policy of self-reliance. The honeymoon between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance ended when Washington D.C. and London contemplated removing Islam Karamov from power. He was a little too independent for their comfort and taste. Their attempts at removing the Uzbek President failed, leading eventually to a shift in geo-political alliances.  

 

The tragic events of Andijan on May 13, 2005 were the breaking point between Uzbekistan and the Anglo-American alliance. The people of Andijan were incited into confronting the Uzbek authorities, which resulted in a heavy security clampdown on the protesters and a loss of lives.

Armed groups were reported to have been involved. In the U.S., Britain, and the E.U., the media reports focused narrowly on human rights violations without mentioning the covert role of the Anglo-American alliance. Uzbekistan held Britain and the U.S. responsible accusing them of inciting rebellion. 

 

M. K. Bhadrakumar, the former Indian ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998), revealed that the Hezbut Tahrir (HT) was one of the parties blamed for stirring the crowd in Andijan by the Uzbek government. [9] The group was already destabilizing Uzbekistan and using violent tactics. The headquarters of this group happens to be in London and they enjoy the support of the British government. London is a hub for many similar organizations that further Anglo-American interests in various countries, including Iran and Sudan, through destabilization campaigns. Uzbekistan even started clamping down on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because of the tragic events of Andijan.

The Anglo-American alliance had played its cards wrong in Central Asia. Uzbekistan officially left the GUUAM Group, a NATO-U.S. sponsored anti-Russian body. GUUAM once again became the GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldava) Group on May 24, 2005.

On July 29, 2005 the U.S. military was ordered to leave Uzbekistan within a six-month period. [10] Literally, the Americans were told they were no longer welcome in Uzbekistan and Central Asia.

Russia, China, and the SCO added their voices to the demands. The U.S. cleared its airbase in Uzbekistan by November, 2005.

Uzbekistan rejoined the CSTO alliance on June 26, 2006 and realigned itself, once again, with Moscow. The Uzbek President also became a vocal advocate, along with Iran, for pushing the U.S. totally out of Central Asia. [11] Unlike Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan continued to allow the U.S. to use Manas Air Base, but with restrictions and in an uncertain atmosphere. The Kyrgyz government also would make it clear that no U.S. operations could target Iran from Kyrgyzstan.

 

Major Geo-Strategic Error 

It appears that a strategic rapprochement between Iran and America was in the works from 2001 to 2002. At the outset of the global war on terrorism, Hezbollah and Hamas, two Arab organizations supported by Iran and Syria, were kept off the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Iran and Syria were also loosely portrayed as potential partners in the “Global War on Terror.”

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iran expressed its support for the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi government. During the invasion of Iraq, the American military even attacked the Iraqi-based Iranian opposition militia, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK/MOK/MKO). Iranian jets also attacked the Iraqi bases of the MEK in approximately the same window of time.

Iran, Britain, and the U.S. also worked together against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is worth mentioning that the Taliban were never allies of Iran. Up until 2000, the Taliban had been supported by the U.S. and Britain, working hand in glove with the Pakistani military and intelligence.

The Taliban were shocked and bewildered at what they saw as an American and British betrayal in 2001 — this is in light of the fact that in October, 2001 they had stated that they would hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S. upon the presentation of evidence of his alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

Zbigniew Brzezinski warned years before 2001 that “a coalition allying Russia with both China and Iran can develop only if the United States is shortsighted enough to antagonize China and Iran simultaneously.” [12] The arrogance of the Bush Jr. Administration has resulted in this shortsighted policy.

According to The Washington Post, “Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago [in 2003], an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table — including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.” [13]

The White House impressed by what they believe were “grand victories” in Iraq and Afghanistan merely ignored the letter sent through diplomatic channels by the Swiss government on behalf of Tehran.

However, it was not because of what was wrongly perceived as a quick victory in Iraq that the Bush Jr. Administration pushed Iran aside. On January 29, 2002, in a major address, President Bush Jr. confirmed that the U.S. would also target Iran, which had been added to the so-called “Axis of Evil” together with Iraq and North Korea. The U.S. and Britain intended to attack Iran, Syria, and Lebanon after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact immediately following the invasion, in July 2003, the Pentagon formulated an initial war scenario entitled “Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT).”

Starting in 2002, the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from their original geo-strategic script. France and Germany were also excluded from sharing the spoils of war in Iraq.

The intention was to act against Iran and Syria just as America and Britain had used and betrayed their Taliban allies in Afghanistan. The U.S. was also set on targeting Hezbollah and Hamas. In January of 2001, according to Daniel Sobelman, a correspondent for Haaretz, the U.S. government warned Lebanon that the U.S. would go after Hezbollah. These threats directed at Lebanon were made at the start of the presidential term of George W. Bush Jr., eight months before the events of September 11, 2001.


The conflict at the United Nations Security Council between the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente, supported by Russia and China, was a pictogram of this deviation.

American geo-strategists for years after the Cold War had scheduled the Franco-German entente to be partners in their plans for global primacy. In this regard, Zbigniew Brzezinski had acknowledged that the Franco-German entente would eventually have to be elevated in status and that the spoils of war would have to be divided with Washington’s European allies.

By the end of 2004, the Anglo-American alliance had started to correct its posture towards France and Germany. Washington had returned to its original geo-strategic script with NATO playing an expanded role in the Eastern Mediterranean. In turn, France was granted  oil concessions in Iraq.

The 2006 war plans for Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean also point to a major shift in direction, a partnership role for the Franco-German entente, with France and Germany playing a major military role in the region.   

 
It is worth noting that a major shift occurred in early 2007 with regard to Iran. Following U.S. setbacks in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as in Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, and former Soviet Central Asia),  the White House entered into secret negotiatiations with Iran and Syria. However, the dye has been cast and it would appear that America will be unable to break an evolving military alliance which includes Russia, Iran, and China as its nucleus.

 

The Baker-Hamilton Commission: Covert Anglo-American Cooperation with Iran and Syria?

 

“America should also strongly support Turkish aspirations to have a pipeline from Baku in [the Republic of] Azerbaijan to Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean cost serve as [a] major outlet for the Caspian Sea basin energy sources. In addition, it is not in America’s interest to perpetuate American-Iranian hostility. Any eventual reconciliation should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran [e.g., Iraq and Afghanistan]. Admittedly, any such reconciliation must be pursued by both sides and is not a favor granted by one to the other. A strong, even religiously motivated but not fanatically anti-Western Iran is in the U.S. interest, and ultimately even the Iranian political elite may recognize that reality. In the meantime, American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines…”

 

-Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, 1997)

 

The recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Commission or the Iraq Study Group (ISG) are not a redirection in regards to engaging Iran, but a return to the track that the Bush Jr. Administration had deviated from as a result of the delusions of its hasty victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.  In other words, the Baker-Hamilton Commission was about damage control and re-steering America to the geo-strategic path originally intended by military planners that the Bush Jr. Administration seems to have deviated from.

The ISG Report also subtly indicated that adoption of so-called “free market” economic reforms be pressed on Iran (and by extension Syria) instead of regime change. The ISG also favoured the accession of both Syria and Iran to the World Trade Organization (WTO). [14] It should also be noted, in this regard, that Iran has already started a mass privatization program that involves all sectors from banking to energy and agriculture.

The ISG Report also recommends an end to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the establishment of peace between Israel and Syria. [15]

The joint interests of Iran and the U.S. were also analysed by the Baker-Hamilton Commission. The ISG recommended  that the U.S. should not empower the Taliban again in Afghanistan (against Iran). [16] It should also be noted that Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., the Syrian Foreign Minister, and Javad Zarif, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, were all consulted by the Baker-Hamilton Commission. [17] The Iranian Ambassodor to the U.N., Javad Zarif, has also been a middle man between the U.S. and Iranian governments for years. 

 

It is worth mentioning that the Clinton Administration was involved in the track of rapprochement with Iran, while also attempting to keep Iran in check under the “dual-containment” policy directed against Iraq and Iran. This policy was also linked to the 1992 Draft Defence Guidance paper written by people within the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Administrations.

It is worth noting that Zbigniew Brzezinski had stated as far back as 1979 and again in 1997 that Iran under its post-revolutionary political system could be co-opted by America. [18] Britain also ensured Syria and Iran in 2002 and 2003 that they would not be targeted and encouraged their cooperation with the White House.

It should be noted that Turkey has recently signed a pipeline deal with Iran that will take gas to Western Europe. This project includes the participation of Turkmenistan. [19] It would appear that this cooperation agreement between Tehran and Ankara points to reconciliation rather than confrontation with Iran and Syria. This is in line with what Brzezinski in 1997 claimed was in America’s interest.

Also, the Anglo-American sponsored Iraqi government has recently signed pipeline deals with Iran.

Once again, America’s interests in this deal should be questioned, as should the high opinions being given about Iran by the puppet leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Something’s Amiss…

The media attention given in North America and Britain to the positive comments made about Tehran by Anglo-American clients in Baghdad and Kabul is sinister.

Although these comments from Baghdad and Kabul about the positive role Iran plays in Iraq and Afghanistan are not new, the media attention is. President George W. Bush Jr. and the White House criticized the Iraqi Prime Minister for saying Iran plays a constructive role in Iraq in early-August of 2007. The White House and North American or British press would usually just ignore or refuse to acknowledge these comments. However, this was not the case in August, 2007.

The Afghani President, Hamid Karzai, during a joint press conference with George W.  Bush Jr. stated that Iran was a positive force in his country. It is not odd to hear that Iran is a positive force inside Afghanistan because the stability of Afghanistan is in Iran’s best interests. What comes across as odd are “when” and “where” the comments were made. White House press conferences are choreographed and the place and time of the Afghani President’s comments should be questioned. It also so happens that shortly after the Afghani President’s comments, the Iranian President arrived in Kabul in an unprecedented visit that must have been approved by the White House.

Iran’s Political Leverage

In regards to Iran and the U.S., the picture is blurry and the lines between cooperation and rivalry are less clear. Reuters and the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) have both reported that the Iranian President may visit Baghdad after August 2007. These reports surfaced just before the U.S. government started threatening to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a special international terrorist organization. Without insinuating anything, it should also be noted that the Revolutionary Guard and the U.S. military have also had a low-key history of cooperation from Bosnia-Herzegovina to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The Iranian President has also invited the presidents of the other four Caspian states for a Caspian Sea summit in Tehran. [20] He invited the Turkmen president while in Turkmenistan and later the Russian and Kazakh presidents at the August of 2007 SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan. President Aliyev, the leader of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azarbaijan) was also personally invited during a trip by the Iranian President to Baku. The anticipated Caspian Sea summit may be similar to the one in Port Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan between the Kazakh, Russian, and Turkmen presidents where it was announced that Russia would not be cut out of the pipeline deals in Central Asia.

Iranian leverage is clearly getting stronger. Officials in Baku also stated that they will expand energy cooperation with Iran and enter the gas pipeline deal between Iran, Turkey, and Turkmenistan that will supply European markets with gas. [21] This agreement to supply Europe is similar to a Russian energy transport deal signed between Greece, Bulgaria, and the Russian Federation. [22]

In the Levant, Syria is involved in energy-related negotiations with Ankara and Baku and important talks have started between American officials and both Tehran and Damascus. [23]

Iran has also been involved in diplomatic exchanges with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Additionally, starting in August 2007, Syria has agreed to reopen Iraqi oil pipelines to the Eastern Mediterranean, through Syrian territory. [24] The recent official visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki to Syria has also been described as historical by news sources like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Also, Syria and Iraq have agreed to build a gas pipeline from Iraq into Syria, where Iraqi gas will be treated in Syrian plants. [25] These agreements are being passed as the sources of tensions between Baghdad and the White House, but they are doubtful. [26]

Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are also planning on starting the process for creating an Iranian-GCC free trade zone in the Persian Gulf. In the bazaars of Tehran and amongst the political circle of Rafsanjani there are also discussion about the eventual creation of a single market between Iran, Tajikistan, Armenia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The American role in these processes in regards to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the GCC should be explored.

Under President Nicholas Sarkozy, France has indicated that it is willing to engage the Syrians fully if they gave specific guarantees in regards to Lebanon. These guarantees are linked to French economic and geo-strategic interests.

In the same period of time as the French statements about Syria, Gordon Brown indicated that Britain was also willing to engage in diplomatic exchanges with both Syria and Iran. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, has also been involved in talks with Damascus on mutual projects, economic reform and bringing Syria closer to the European Union. These talks, however  tend to be camouflaged by the discussion between Syria and Germany in regard to the mass exodus of Iraqi refugees, resulting from the Anglo-American occupation of their country. The French Foreign Minister is also expected in Tehran to talk about Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Despite the war-mongering by the U.S. and more recently by France, this has all led to speculation of a potential about-turn in regards to Iran and Syria. [27]

Then again, this is part of the two-pronged U.S. approach of preparing for the worst (war), while suing for the diplomatic capitulation of Syria and Iran as client states or partners. When large oil and weapons deals were signed between Libya and Britain, London said that Iran should follow the Libyan example, as has the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

Has the March to War been Interrupted?

Despite talks behind closed doors with Damascus and Tehran, Washington is nonetheless arming its clients in the Middle East. Israel is in an advanced state of military preparedness for a war on Syria.

Unlike France and Germany, Anglo-American ambitions pertaining to Iran and Syria are not one of cooperation. The ultimate objective is political and economic subordination.

Moreover, either as a friend or foe, America cannot tolerate Iran within its present borders. The balkanization of Iran, like that of Iraq and Russia, is a major long-term Anglo-American goal.

What lies ahead is never known. While there is smoke in the horizon, the U.S.-NATO-Israeli military agenda will not necessarily result in the implementation of war as planned.

A “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” — which forms the basis of a global counter-alliance — is emerging. America and Britain rather than opting for outright war, may choose to reel in Iran and Syria through macro-economic manipulation and velvet revolutions.

War directed against Iran and Syria, however, cannot be ruled out. There are real war preparations on the ground in the Middle East and Central Asia. A war against Iran and Syria would have far-reaching worldwide implications.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specialising on the Middle East and Central Asia. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).



NOTES

 

[1] Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, signed and entered into force July 16, 2001, P.R. of China-Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjdt/2649/t15771.htm

 

The following are treaty articles that are relevant to the mutual defence of China and Russia against American-led encirclement and efforts to dismantle both nations;

 

ARTICLE 4

 

The Chinese side supports the Russian side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

The Russian side supports the Chinese side in its policies on the issue of defending the national unity and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China.

 

ARTICLE 5

 

The Russian side reaffirms that the principled stand on the Taiwan issue as expounded in the political documents signed and adopted by the heads of states of the two countries from 1992 to 2000 remain unchanged. The Russian side acknowledges that there is only one China in the world, that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The Russian side opposes any form of Taiwan’s independence.

 

ARTICLE 8


The contracting parties shall not enter into any alliance or be a party to any bloc nor shall they embark on any such action, including the conclusion of such treaty with a third country which compromises the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party. Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow its territory to be used by a third country to jeopardize the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contracting party.

Neither side of the contracting parties shall allow the setting up of organizations or gangs on its own soil which shall impair the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other contrasting party and their activities should be prohibited.

 

ARTICLE 9

 

When a situation arises in which one of the contracting parties deems that peace is being threatened and undermined or its security interests are involved or when it is confronted with the threat of aggression, the contracting parties shall immediately hold contacts and consultations in order to eliminate such threats.

 

ARTILCE 12

 

The contracting parties shall work together for the maintenance of global strategic balance and stability and make great efforts in promoting the observation of the basic agreements relevant to the safeguard and maintenance of strategic stability.

The contracting parties shall actively promote the process of nuclear disarmament and the reduction of chemical weapons, promote and strengthen the regimes on the prohibition of biological weapons and take measures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and their related technology.

 

[2] Ibid.

 

[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (NYC, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.198.

 

[4] Ibid., pp. 115-116, 170, 205-206.

 

Note: Brzezinski also refers to a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition as a “counteralliance” (p.116).

 

[5] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century (NYC, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons Macmillan Publishing Company, 1993), p.198.

 

[6] Ibid.

 

[7] Ibid.

 

[8] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.198.

 

[9] M. K. Bhadrakumar, The lessons from Ferghana, Asia Times, May 18, 2005.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/GE18Ag01.html

 

[10] Nick Paton Walsh, Uzbekistan kicks US out of military base, The Guardian (U.K.), August 1, 2005.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1540185,00.html

 

[11] Vladimir Radyuhin, Uzbekistan rejoins defence pact, The Hindu, June 26, 2006.

http://www.thehindu.com/2006/06/26/stories/2006062604491400.htm

 

[12] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.116.

 

[13] Glenn Kessler, In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue, The Washington Post, June 18, 2006, p.A16.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/17/AR2006061700727.html

 

[14] James A. Baker III et al., The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward A New Approach, Authroized ed. (NYC, New York: Random House Inc., 2006), p.51.

[15] Ibid., pp.51, 54-57.

[16] Ibid., pp.50-53, 58.

[17] Ibid., p.114.

[18] Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, Op. cit., p.204.

 

[19] Iran, Turkey sign energy cooperation deal, agree to develop Iran’s gas fields, Associated Press, July 14, 2007.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/14/business/ME-FIN-Iran-Turkey-Energy-deal.php


[20] Tehran to host summit of Caspian nations Oct.18, Russian Information Agency (RIA Novosti), August 22, 2007.
http://en.rian.ru/world/20070822/73387774.html

 

[21] Azerbaijan, Iran reinforce energy deals, United Press International (UPI), August 22, 2007.

[22] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Détente in the Middle East or “Calm before the Storm?,” Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), July 10, 2007.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6281

[23] Ibid.

It is worth noting that Iran has been involved in pipeline deals with Turkey and in negotiation between Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the possible creation of an energy corridor in the Eastern Mediterranean. These deals occurred in the same time frame that both Syria and Iran started talks with the U.S. after the Baker-Hamilton Commission’s report.


[24] Syria and Iraq to reopen oil pipeline link, Agence France-Presse (AFP), August 22, 2007.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Roger Hardy, Why the US is unhappy with Maliki, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), August 22, 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6958440.stm

[27] Hassan Nafaa, About-face on Iran coming?, Al-Ahram (Egypt), no. 859, August 23-29, 2007.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/859/op22.htm


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Bush’s Turkish Gamble

July 31, 2007

Bush’s Turkish Gamble
By Robert D. Novak
Monday, July 30, 2007; A15

The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq.

While detailed operational plans are necessarily concealed, the broad outlines have been presented to select members of Congress as required by law. U.S. Special Forces are to work with the Turkish army to suppress the Kurds’ guerrilla campaign. The Bush administration is trying to prevent another front from opening in Iraq, which would have disastrous consequences. But this gamble risks major exposure and failure.

The Turkish initiative reflects the temperament and personality of George W. Bush. Even faithful congressional supporters of his Iraq policy have been stunned by the president’s upbeat mood, which makes him appear oblivious to the loss of his political base. Despite the failing effort to impose a military solution in Iraq, he is willing to try imposing arms — though clandestinely — on Turkey’s ancient problems with its Kurdish minority, who comprise one-fifth of the country’s population.

The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity inside Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam Hussein, has alarmed the Turkish government. That led to Ankara‘s refusal to allow U.S. combat troops to enter Iraq through Turkey, an eleventh-hour complication for the 2003 invasion. As the Kurds’ political power grew inside Iraq, the Turkish government became steadily more uneasy about the centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading across international boundaries — and chewing up big pieces of Turkey.

The dormant Turkish Kurd guerrilla fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) came to life. By June, the Turkish government was demonstrating its concern by lobbing artillery shells across the border. Ankara began protesting, to both Washington and Baghdad, that the PKK was using northern Iraq as a base for guerrilla operations. On July 11, in Washington, Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy became the first Turkish official to assert publicly that Iraqi Kurds have claims on Turkish territory. On July 20, just two days before his successful reelection, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened a military incursion into Iraq against the Kurds. Last Wednesday, Murat Karayilan, head of the PKK political council, predicted that “the Turkish Army will attack southern Kurdistan.”

Turkey has a well-trained, well-equipped army of 250,000 near the border, facing some 4,000 PKK fighters hiding in the mountains of northern Iraq. But significant cross-border operations surely would bring to the PKK’s side the military forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the best U.S. ally in Iraq. What is Washington to do in the dilemma of two friends battling each other on an unwanted new front in Iraq?

The surprising answer was given in secret briefings on Capitol Hill last week by Eric S. Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Cheney who is now undersecretary of defense for policy. Edelman, a Foreign Service officer who once was U.S. ambassador to Turkey, revealed to lawmakers plans for a covert operation of U.S. Special Forces to help the Turks neutralize the PKK. They would behead the guerrilla organization by helping Turkey get rid of PKK leaders that they have targeted for years.

Edelman’s listeners were stunned. Wasn’t this risky? He responded that he was sure of success, adding that the U.S. role could be concealed and always would be denied. Even if all this is true, some of the briefed lawmakers left wondering whether this was a wise policy for handling the beleaguered Kurds, who had been betrayed so often by the U.S. government in years past.

The plan shows that hard experience has not dissuaded President Bush from attempting difficult ventures employing the use of force. On the contrary, two of the most intrepid supporters of the Iraq intervention — John McCain and Lindsey Graham– were surprised by Bush during a recent meeting with him. When they shared their impressions with colleagues, they commented on how unconcerned the president seemed. That may explain his willingness to embark on such a questionable venture against the Kurds.

© 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Turkey Bombards Northern Iraq, Iraq Says

July 22, 2007

Turkey Bombards Northern Iraq, Iraq Says
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 18, 2007; 3:39 PM

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government said Turkish artillery and warplanes bombarded areas of northern Iraq on Wednesday and called on Turkey to stop military operations and resolve the conflict diplomatically.

The claim occurred amid rising tension and Turkish threats to strike bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, which has been launching attacks against targets in Turkey from sanctuaries in Iraq.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press that the morning bombardment struck areas of the northern province of Dahuk, some 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Col. Hussein Kamal said about 250 shells were fired into Iraq from Turkey. He added that there were no casualties on the Iraqi side of the border.

“We have received reports that the Turkish government and the Turkish army have bombed border villages. The Iraqi government regrets the Turkish military operations of artillery and warplanes bombing against border cities and towns,” al-Dabbagh said.

“The Iraqi government calls for ceasing these operations and resorting to dialogue,” he said, insisting that Iraq wants “good relations with Turkey.”

Earlier Wednesday, Kurdish guerrillas staged a bomb attack against a military vehicle, killing two soldiers and wounding six others near the Iraqi border, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The attack occurred close to the Iraqi border, near the town of Cukurca in Hakkari province, Anatolia said. Military helicopters flew the injured to hospitals as military units in the region launched an operation to hunt down the attackers, it said.

Last week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Turkey had massed 140,000 soldiers along the border _ a figure the U.S. disputed. Zebari said troop levels in the region were often increased during the spring and summer in response to increased activity by PKK.

U.S. officials cast doubt on the figure.

Turkish officials have repeatedly said they are considering military operations against the PKK in Iraq, a move that the United States fears would cause further instability.

Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi government is ready either for bilateral talks or three-way talks that will include the United States. He added that the PKK matter is not new but years-old.

“We have said before that we will not allow Iraq to become a launching pad for operations against Turkey or any other country,” al-Dabbagh said.

Washington says it is working with Turkey to combat the PKK but that it is focused on combatting insurgents opposing U.S. forces.

The PKK has escalated attacks this year, killing about 70 soldiers so far. More than 110 rebels were killed in the same period.

Turkey has been battling the PKK since 1984 in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.


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