Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Iraq and Turkey

Turkey's Parliament on Wednesday was expected to approve military action against Kurdish separatists based in Iraqi territory despite international efforts to avert the crisis.
Ankara has said that the operation will not immediately follow the motion, but Turkey has already massed 60,000 troops in the region. Over the weekend it shelled farms across the border.
Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi on Wednesday called on Turkey to grant Iraq's government more time to crackdown on Kurdish separatists, whose recent cross-border terrorist attacks have heightened tensions in the region, state-run Anadolu News Agency reported.
Al-Hashimi on Tuesday flew to Ankara for talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul.
Iraqi officials have denied that the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, was using Iraqi territory to stage attacks and warned that as many as 30,000 people could be forced to leave villages near the frontier.

The above is from CNN's "Turkey to vote on Iraq incursion" and the destruction Bully Boy's done to Iraq seems never ending. Yesim Borg's "Iraqi leader calls for Turkish restraint" (Los Angeles Times) provides some basic figures:

Between 25 million and 40 million ethnic Kurds live in a region stretching across western Iran, northern Iraq, southern Turkey and eastern Syria. The Kurds of Iraq control an autonomous zone that allows them a degree of independence from the central government in Baghdad -- and, Turkish officials believe, provides a haven for Kurdish separatists from Turkey.

Hashimi, the Iraqi vice president, said his government was sympathetic to Turkey's anger and grief after Kurdish rebels carried out some of their deadliest attacks on Turkish troops in more than a decade. But he said diplomacy, not firepower, had to resolve the matter.
Other Turkish politicians were more direct in their accusation that Iraqi authorities had been remiss as regards their stated willingness to crack down on the separatists, known as the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Turkish opposition parties are using a lack of progress on that front to lash out at Erdogan.
"It is high time for the Iraqi government to make a choice between Turkey and the PKK," said Deniz Baykal, chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party. "Turkey will no longer remain silent against terrorist acts."

In the San Francisco Chronicle, David R. Baker weighs in on the price of oil and how the system 'adusts' (embraces?) more easily today than it once did. For the whys, see Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism.

Olive notes The Age's report on an unnamed Australian soldier who was shot in Iraq of which little details are currently known -- though Prime Minister John Howard assures that the soldier will make a full recovery. Considering the statements the Australian government repeatedly made about Jake Kovco, take it with a grain of salt. On the issue of the wounded, Martha notes Peter Baker's "Revamp Urged for Care of Veterans" (Washington Post) about Bully Boy's sudden desire for 'quick action' on the treatment for the wounded:

The president's announcement came several weeks after the release of a preliminary Government Accountability Office report that said the promises to repair the system have been hobbled by staff shortages and delays in streamlining the process. Lawmakers from both parties have complained that they still hear horror stories and have urged more expeditious action.
The legislation unveiled by Bush was designed to address some of those concerns and adopted recommendations from the July report of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors, co-chaired by former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and former Clinton administration health and human services secretary Donna E. Shalala.
The White House said that it has already moved to implement the Dole-Shalala recommendations that are within the power of the executive branch, but that congressional approval is needed for the most significant proposals.
The bulk of the legislation is aimed at eliminating the parallel disability evaluation systems run by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which force wounded troops to endure two sets of examinations, two sets of paperwork and two appeals processes.

The commission was a joke and that has to do with the panel itself. Meanwhile
the United Nations is looking into the issue of mercenaries being used in Iraq. From AP's "UN: Private U.S. guards in Iraq part of booming, mercenary-like trend:"

Experts visited Honduras, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Fiji over the past 14 months to look into recruiting and training practices by the private contractors.
The report said some companies had hired former military personnel and ex-policemen to serve as security guards, but some in fact became "private militarily armed soldiers."
In Chile, experts were told recruits were given military training by private companies in the United States, Jordan or Iraq, and "eventually performed military functions."
In Peru, the panel heard that hundreds of Peruvians had been recruited and trained by private security companies to work in Iraq and Afghanistan as security guards — and that at least 1,000 allegedly remain in Iraq.
Recruits from Fiji and Latin America sometimes complained of poor working conditions, partial or nonpayment of salaries and neglect of basic needs, the report said.
Gomez del Prado said that he knew Blackwater had recruited soldiers and ex-soldiers from Chile and that the security companies in general had hired recruits from all over the world, including Spain, Portugal and other Western countries, as well as Russia and South Africa.
"I don't know if they work for Blackwater, but all these private security companies they are recruiting from all over the world -- from the Philippines, from Fiji," he said.

On the issue of Blackwater, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker's "Pentagon Sees One Authority Over Guards" details the current turf battle between the US State Dept and the Pentagon over who will have control over Blackwater. There's not much to the article -- it fails to note, for instance, that under State Dept control, Blackwater has been allowed to break even the most basic rules such as always informing the US military of their convoys. But there's a turf battle going on and our Rona Barretts are there to tell us.

Paul Krugman is a guest on today's Democracy Now!

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