Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kurds and Turkey; Kurds and Arabs in Iraq

Yesterday the Turkish military launched another air bombing on northern Iraq. The Guardian notes, "The jets hit 60 suspected rebel targets in the mountainous region near the border with Turkey late on Wednesday as well as targets on Mount Qandil, along the Iraqi-Iranian border, where leaders of the rebel group Kurdistan Workers' party, or PKK, are believed to be hiding." The paper also notes that the Turkish government will discuss the PKK today in a national security meeting. Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) state Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared "a new period is starting" in this ongoing crisis and "Rebels from PKK have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks over the last month, including a Saturday ambush near the southeastern province of Sirnak that killed at least three soldiers. In a statement e-mailed to CNN, the PKK also claimed responsibility for last week's sabotage of a natural gas pipeline between Turkey and its eastern neighbor Iran."

The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Kurds are said to be the largest ethnic minority in the world without a homeland. Turkey borders Iraq on the north and has its own internal Kurdish issues -- mainly a long history of suppressing the Kurds. The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq.

W.G. Dunlop (AFP) reports that "new neutral arbitrators" are needed in Iraq to handle disputes between Kurdish and Arab forces (which is actually repeating what the RAND Corporation's recent report, "Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq After the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops," stated, see the July 26th snapshot) and that tensions will increase without someone to fill the role currently filled by the US military. From the article:

Major Ali Jassem al-Tamimi, an Iraqi army representative to the NCCC, was confident the centres would continue to function after the US withdrawal, but conceded that disputes may arise.
"We expect that after the US withdrawal, we will work in the same way and... the same effort will continue, but there might be some small conflicts between one side and another," Tamimi said.
Captain Massud Hussein, representing the peshmerga, agreed with Tamimi, but added that the situation "will be improved for the better if they (the Americans) stay."

The US stepped into the mediation role when the central government in Baghdad and the KRG government were at loggerheads with each hurling accusations at one another. It's very easy to paint it now as the military of each group not getting along but the issue was much larger than that. The potential conflict between the each side's military is underscored today as Alsumaria TV reports, "Peshmerga Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government Jaafar Mustapha warned on Wednesday against Kurds boycott to the Iraqi Army for it has become a 'central army', he argued. Kurds have no longer any power in the Iraqi Army. The incidents that are occurring in the regions where Iraqi army is deployed especially in Diyala have never occurred at the time of Baath, Peshmerga Minister said." Sean Kane (Foreign Policy) wonders, "Will the phasing out of the U.S. role mean, as one leaked U.S. intelligence report suggested, that without strong and fair third party influence tensions along the Arab-Kurdish line may quickly turn to violence? Or is too much being made of the transition in what was always intended to be a temporary mechanism?" Baram Subhi (niqash) notes that some are hopeful about the Golden Lions, "The Golden Lions unit is composed of almost 400 members from three different security forces operating in Kirkuk: the Iraqi army, the local police forces and the Iraqi Kurdish military force known as the Peshmerga. The tripartite force, which eventually hopes to increase its number to 1,000, was the idea of Ray Odierno, former commander of US forces in Iraq, who hoped a joint force like this one might help put an end to ethnic clashes in the area."

Meanwhile, there are other issues and conflicts effecting Iraq's Kurdish population. Mohammed A. Salih (Rudaw) reports on one brewing issue:

The Communist Party of Kurdistan is preparing a lawsuit against Iraqi Kurdistan’s most prominent opposition leader Nawshirwan Mustafa over attacks against their offices in Sulaimani in 2000.
Change Movement leader Mustafa, who served deputy head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) at the time of the attacks, is accused of ordering security forces to raid the party’s office in the summer of 2000. Five party members were killed and several were wounded during the raid, which “was led personally by Nawshirwan,” claimed Nawzad Baban, a Communist Party leader. “We are now determined to take them to court.”

The following community sites updated last night plus

And, in fact, all community sites except Third and Isaiah's updated last night but Blogger/Blogspot isn't reading them:

Isaiah has another cartoon this morning after this entry and the next one (and Isaiah's "What? Us Diet?" went up yesterday morning). We'll close with this from Kevin Baron's "How the war is spun" (Stars & Stripes via IHC):

In far worse carnage, bombings in at least 17 Iraqi cities on Monday killed more than 60 people in “bloodbath” scenes of scattered human flesh.
Stars and Stripes’ Erik Slavin, in Iraq, reports U.S. servicemembers were not attacked and Iraqi forces had to call for American assistance just once.
U.S. Forces Iraq spokesman Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, in the Pentagon Monday, said the attacks show Iraq remains dangerous but do not threaten the government and the insurgency remains an unpopular shadow of its former self.
“It is something that is obviously concerning,” said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, in Monday’s press gaggle. Then he noted the attacks were “not necessarily” targeting U.S. forces and, repeating an oft-heard DOD talking point, that U.S. leaders had anticipated “for some time” terrorist attacks would spike as Americans headed for the exits.
You can probably anticipate you’ll hear that line again, for some time.

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