Tensions in northern Iraq between Kurdish guerrillas and neighboring countries are threatening to dominate Iraq's diplomatic agenda, despite the country’s far broader needs, Iraqi officials indicated today.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki met with Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, and asked him to intervene on Iraq’s behalf at the meeting of Iraq's neighbors in coming days in Istanbul.
"The prime minister asked the Islamic Republic to present their full support to Iraq during the Istanbul meeting and also to participate in solving the border crises between Turkey and the P.K.K.," said a statement from Mr. Maliki's office.
The P.K.K. is the Kurdistan Workers Party, a rebel group. Its fighters use northern Iraq's mountainous Kurdistan region, which borders Turkey, as a staging point for raids over the border in Turkey. The rebels have killed at least 42 people in the past month, mostly soldiers. The group, which has activists among Turkey's Kurdish minority as well as in Iraq, has fought in the past for a separate Kurdish state in Turkey, but now appears focused on forcing more rights for ethnic Kurds living there.
The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Tension With Turkey Shaking Iraq" and here's a section of Rubin's "Iraq Asks for Iran's Help in Calming Kurdish Crisis" in this morning's New York Times which is another version of Rubin's article:
The issue is a thorny one for most of the meeting's participants. The United States, which will be represented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has close relations with Turkey and the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, and is eager not to antagonize either one. Turkey, Iran and Syria, all of which are sending representatives, have Kurdish minorities.
The secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and a number of other foreign ministers are also expected to attend.
Iraqi diplomats said they were worried that after the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with President Bush on Nov. 5, Turkey may take action against the Kurdish guerrillas, a step that could further antagonize Iraq's Kurds.
What does it all mean? Pepe Escobar's "Double-crossing in Kurdistan" (Asia Times) offers one perspective:
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.
Meanwhile Matthew Weaver (Guardian of London) reports that Turkey is still considering flight bans over northern Iraq and their foreign minister has announced "that economic measures . . . have already been put in place". But Reuters cites Turkey's prime minister as declaring that "sanctions against groups supporting the PKK had not yet been put into force."
Today on Democracy Now!, two FCC commissioners -- Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein -- are scheduled to appear. Meanwhile Amy Goodman's "For Whom the Bell's Palsy Tolls" (Truthdig via Common Dreams) addresses an important topic:
Bell's palsy. It hit suddenly a month ago. I had just stepped off a plane in New York, and my friend noticed the telltale sagging lip. It felt like Novocain. I raced to the emergency room. The doctors prescribed a weeklong course of steroids and antivirals. The following day it got worse. I had to make a decision: Do I host "Democracy Now!," our daily news broadcast, on Monday? I could speak perfectly well, and I'm tired of seeing women (and men) on TV who look like they just stepped off the set of "Dynasty." Maybe if they see a person they trust to deliver the news, still there, but just looking a little lopsided, it might change their view of friends and family-or strangers, for that matter-who are struggling with some health issue.
Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia anyone can edit, stated that I had suffered a stroke. So on Tuesday I decided to tell viewers and listeners that I was suffering from a temporary bout of Bell's palsy, that it wasn’t painful and that "the doctors tell me I will be back to my usual self in the next few weeks. In the meantime, it just makes it a little harder to smile. But so does the world."
Bell's palsy affects 50,000 people in the U.S. every year. It is an inflammation of the seventh cranial nerve that connects to the eye, nose and ear. The inflammation causes temporary paralysis of the nerve. For some, the eye can't close, so they have to tape it shut at night, and some can't speak. George Clooney had it. Ralph Nader came down with it in the midst of a speaking tour. He was in Boston debating someone when his eye started to water and his mouth sagged. It didn't stop him. He continued his tour, just beginning each talk by saying, "At least you can't accuse me of speaking out of both sides of my mouth."
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alissa j. rubin
the new york times