Yet another unwelcome spin off from GW Bush and Tony Blair’s disastrous decision to invade and occupy Iraq began last night, when the Turkish Armed Forces began to move into northern Iraq in large numbers in search and destroy operations against the Kurdish PKK, who have been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish State since 1984.
A military spokesman issued a statement on behalf of the Turkish General Staff, “A ground operation backed by the Air Force was launched at 1900, [1700 GMT on Thursday] the offensive began on Thursday evening, following shelling and aerial assaults against PKK targets in the region. After the successful bombing, a cross-border ground incursion backed by the Air Force started at 1900” (1700 GMT). The spokesman went on to say, “Two divisions of the Turkish Army, 10,000 troops had been sent into northern Iraq overnight as part of the land operation.
With this invasion of northern Iraq it seems the will of the Turkish military has finally prevailed over that of the AK Party led democratically elected government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who were hoping to avoid a military incursion with land forces across the Iraqi border. The rank and file of the AK Party along with many Turks have been taken by surprise by the General Staffs decision to invade northern Iraq at this time, as earlier this week Government Ministers were telling the media that due to the weather there would be no invasion until the early spring. Which they hoped would give Erdoğan enough time to reach and agreement with the PKK to come down from the mountains.
It is not the first time the Turkish military have launched a major land-force into northern Iraq with the aim of destroying the PKK, seven divisions of the Turkish army were sent into northern Iraq in 1995 and six in 1997, neither were successful in destroying the PKK. Most military analysts doubt the Turkish military will be any more successful this time, at best they can hope to disrupt the PKK chain of command and supply.
Not least because it is thought following recent Turkish military air strikes the PKK has withdrawn its fighters from their bases in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains and moved them across the eastern Iraqi border into Iran, whilst setting up small bases in the Sincar Mountains in northern Iraq. Unless the Turkish military has made some sort of agreement with their Iranian counterparts to expel the PKK fighters back across the Iraqi border, it is difficult to see how the current invasion will be any more successful than the previous two I mention above. Indeed for the Turkish Government it can only make a bad situation worse as past history has shown that any military incursion to attack the PKK in Iraq has acted as a recruiting sergeant for that organization.*
Photos above are of
1/ Map of where the Kurds live in the region.
3/ Turkish troops in northern Iraq.