Turkey approves Iraq incursion

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

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