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FW: Turkey invades Iraq (again)

-----Original Message-----
>From: Ali Abunimah []
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2000 11:31 AM

April 3, 2000

Once again, Turkey has staged a massive military assault on Iraq in
furtherance of its campaign to eradicate Kurdish identity from the
face of the earth. This report in The Guardian (see below) is the only
one I found in any major newspaper today. The American press remains
silent on the repeated Turkish aggression against Iraq and the Kurds
who live or seek refuge there from the Turkish army.

The reasons for this are simple. Turkey is a close ally of the United
States and Israel. Its appointed role is to act as a US military base on
Iraq's northern flank, and to encircle the Arab world in alliance with
Israel. In exchange, the United States supplies it with deadly weapons and
pressures Europe to overlook Turkey's torture chambers. Its virulently
nationalistic and ethnocentric state ideology is the backdrop for the
suppression not only of any expression of their identity or culture by
Turkey's twelve million Kurds, but of any overt expression of Islam, in a
country that is overwhelmingly Muslim. In Turkey it is illegal to advocate
a non-military "solution" to the Kurdish problem, and Turkey has just
outlawed the last legal Kurdish party.

The reason the media and the US government need to keep quiet about
Turkey's repeated mini invasions of Iraq is because to mention them would
interfere with the fictional pretext for the United States' own nefarious
role in northern Iraq. Currently, the United States and its faithful
servant Britain are bombarding northern Iraq on a nearly daily basis,
killing Iraqis and destroying livestock and infrastructure. The stated
reason for this is "enforcement" of the illegal "no fly zones," ostensibly
to protect the Kurds from the deparadations of Saddam Hussein! How
embarassing then that Turkey is allowed to freely commit atrocities
against the Kurds in Iraq. How embarassing that a member of the brave and
righteous NATO alliance, which went to war to save Kosovars from
intolerance and ethnic cleansing, should be carrying out its own much more
bloody campaign against the Kurds in an unseen corner of Asia minor. Hence
you will not hear a squeak of protest from Washington or London.

This is all too complicated for the US public to understand. Much easier
to have good guys and bad guys.

How ironic that the two countries that routinely threaten and attack their
neighbors are not the so-called "rogue" states, but the two shining
examples of US-armed "democracy," Israel and Turkey.

Ali Abunimah


The Guardian (London), April 3, 2000

HEADLINE: Turks pursue Kurds inside northern Iraq

BYLINE: Chris Morris in Ankara

In what has become an annual event that marks the arrival of spring,
thousands of Turkish troops have crossed the border into northern Iraq
during the past few days to hunt down members of the rebel Kurdistan
Worker's Party (PKK).

Military sources say that the troops, supported by American-made
attack helicopters, are being deployed to prevent PKK infiltration
into Turkey.

Almost anywhere else in the world, thousands of heavily armed soldiers
crossing an international border would be a big news. But this latest
Turkish incursion into Iraq will be greeted with barely a murmur in
the west, while condemnation from Baghdad and other Arab capitals is
unlikely to have much effect.

On Turkey's side, military sources say the latest operation was
launched because evidence emerged that the PKK was re-establishing
positions close to the border.

For several days last week reports emerged of a big build-up of troops
in south-eastern Turkey. Tanks and helicopters were on the move and
some sources said mobile bridges had been constructed across the river
that marks the border. Now the first wave of troops is reported to
have advanced several miles into Iraqi territory.

Northern Iraq has not been controlled by President Saddam Hussein's
government in Baghdad since the end of the Gulf war in 1991. With US
and British planes providing protection from the air, the mountainous
north is run by two rival Iraqi Kurdish groups, one of which is allied
with the Turks in their fight against the PKK. Every year when the
snow begins to melt, the Turkish military launches a cross-border
operation to try to hit the PKK in its isolated camps. Nato's second
largest army has become adept at fighting a guerrilla war in the

The difference this year is that the PKK's jailed leader, Abdullah
Ocalan, has declared a ceasefire from his prison cell and it appears
that the majority of his followers have agreed to give up the armed
struggle against the Turkish state.

There are thought to be only about 300 PKK fighters still on Turkish
soil. The rest have withdrawn into northern Iraq and Iran, where
Ankara still considers their presence a threat.

The Turkish military has said it will continue to pursue the war until
the last member of the PKK has been killed or has decided to
surrender. Negotiation, the generals stress, is out of the question.

As long as Iraq remains a pariah state in the west, Turkey's army is
unlikely to come under pressure to end its cross-border activities. It
already maintains a semi-permanent military presence in northern Iraq,
while insisting that it strongly supports Iraq's territorial

It is this power vacuum in the region, Turkish analysts say, which has
forced Ankara to act. That in turn is another reminder of the failings
of western policy in effecting change in Iraq.

Nearly a decade after President Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait,
he is still in power in Baghdad - isolated but defiant - while Iraq's
people, Arabs and Kurds alike, suffer under the dictatorship.

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