Friday, February 22, 2008

Other Items

Iraqi Kurdish troops on Thursday encircled Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq and threatened to open fire in the most serious standoff between the two nation's forces since Turkey threatened late last year to go after guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party sheltering in Iraq.
The standoff began when Turkish troops in tanks and armored vehicles left one of five bases they've had in Iraq since 1997 and moved to control two main roads in Dohuk province, Iraqi officials said.
Kurdish soldiers from the peshmerga militia, which is loyal to the Kurdish Regional Government, moved to stop them. For an hour and a half, the two sides faced off before the Turkish soldiers retreated to their base, which is about 27 miles northeast of the city of Dohuk. The peshmerga surrounded the base and remained there late Thursday.
The Turkish troop movement was accompanied by artillery and airstrikes that targeted mountain areas held by rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is known by its initials as the PKK. A spokesman for the peshmerga, Jabar Yawar, said the shelling began at about 11 a.m. and continued past midnight. Two bridges were knocked out over the Great Zab River, he said.

The above is from Leila Fadel and Yassen Taha's "Kurdish troops surround Turks in worth confrontation yet in Iraq" (McClatchy Newspapers). If you're wondering where the New York Times is, A6 -- the usual "Iraq page" -- contains nothing filed from Iraq. Nor is anything in the news section filed from Iraq. No article wondering if al-Sadr will extend the truce/cease-fire. No article on the refugee crisis (Lebanon must not be news to them, though they could have easily worked yesterday's news to slam Lebanon -- something the paper enjoys -- since Iraqis hadn't been released from Lebanon jails yet). Nothing on the two announcements (of the deaths of US service members) yesterday. There are a number of topics (see yesterday's snapshot) that a paper spending millions on Iraq coverage could have teased into a story -- especially a paper in the midst of layoffs and force-outs. In terms of the above excerpt, there is a pattern of the Turkish military making claims and the central government in Baghdad denying them so when the reporters are based in the Green Zone, it's not surprising the Times takes a pass on that story. Fadel also offers "Kurdish rebels still control Iraqi mountain redoubts:"

In the snowcapped Qandeel Mountains of northern Iraq, it's hard to see that the Kurdistan Workers Party -- the PKK, as it's known by its Kurdish initials — has been on the U.S. terrorist list since 2002.
Or that President Bush and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government promised Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that they'd crack down on the group, which has killed hundreds of Turks in its battle for an independent Kurdish homeland.
No Iraqi troops patrol here. PKK men in uniform check the IDs of those who seek to visit. The image of the PKK's leader is emblazoned on a mountain slope, and a sign openly proclaims PKK headquarters. The peshmerga troops of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which officially rules northern Iraq, make no effort to enter.
Indeed, there's little evidence in this tiny village inside what the PKK calls the Medya Defense Area that the Kurdish Regional Government has made any effort to cut off the group's supply lines. The regional government paves the roads and buses in teachers from nearby towns. Residents openly watch PKK television, with the sound up loud.

Meanwhile Reuters reports a bombing outside Falluja that's claimed the lives of "at least six policemen and wounded nine others," a car bombing in Tikrit that claimed the lives of 3 police officers (eight more wounded), 2 corpses discovered in Iskandariya and a Baghdad bombing that has "killed at least one person and wounded four others".

Tonight (in most markets) on Bill Moyers Journal:

Bill Moyers Journal and the PBS series Expose: America's Investigative Reports offer a hard and fresh look at how earmarks really work.
Watch a preview . The broadcast profiles Seattle Times reporters on the trail of how members of Congress have awarded federal dollars for questionable purposes to companies in local Congressional districts -- often to companies whose executives, employees or PACs have made campaign contributions to the legislators. The segment also focuses on how earmarks for some products were added to the defense appropriations bill even in cases in which the military didn't want them in the first place. Example: a $4.65 million patrol boat the Coast Guard hadn't even asked for and decided it couldn't use was eventually given away by the Coast Guard to a California Sheriff's office. David Heath of the Seattle Times says: "They're selling a product to the military that they're not even using."

The segment will available for viewing before the broadcast at and airs on Bill Moyers Journal Friday, February 22. Viewers can post questions for Seattle Times reporters after the broadcast at The Moyers Blog at Expose will premiere a new episode one Friday per month as part of Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

The e-mail address for this site is