The Turks have been threatening for months to go after the PKK, who have tens of thousands of fighters training in camps inside Iraq, along the Turkish border.
And so the Iranians have spread the rumor, which until now has been accepted at face value, that its own Kurdish dissidents (PJAK) are actually the Iranian branch of the PKK, which the U.S. has designated as an international terrorist organization.
The State Department took Turkey’s insistence that PJAK was allied with the PKK seriously enough that it refused to meet earlier this month with visiting PJAK leader, Rahman Haj Ahmadi, despite his open support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq and his identification with U.S. goals in the region.
Both the PKK and PJAK have training camps in the Qanbil mountain range in northern Iraq. But because of the difficult geography, and their different needs, they inhabit “different sides of the mountains,” Rahman Ahmadi told me in Washington.
“The PKK doesn’t need us,” he said. “They have tens of thousands of fighters, and hundreds of thousands of sympathizers.”
But Ahmadi acknowledges that PJAK and the PKK cooperate to a certain degree, if only to prevent clashes between their own fighters.
“The president of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional government, Massoud Barzani, also has an agreement with the PKK,” he told me. “Does that make Barzani a supporter of the PKK?”
This is not the first time the Turks have played us in Iraq. In 2003, on a flimsy pretext of domestic opposition, they successfully prevented the 4th Infantry Division from crossing Turkey to join coalition forces that liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein.
We can sit by and allow Iran to violate Iraq’s sovereignty, defy the U.S. military, and smash a significant Iranian opposition group on the slim pretext that Iran is “merely” seeking to punish its own rebels, just as Turkey.
Or we can extend protection to the Iranian Kurds who have established training camps in the rugged mountains of northeastern Iraq, and inflict a double blow on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Clearly, the Iranians believe they can thumb their noses at the U.S. military. For more than a week, they have conducted intermittent shelling of Iraqi Kurdish villages in the general vicinity of suspected PJAK bases.
My Iranian sources tell me that the Iranians are hoping to expel PJAK from the area and replace them with Ansar al-Islam, the precursor group to al Qaeda in Iraq.
Ok, I read this article today which suggests that the US government is planning to assist the Turkish government to attack the PKK in Iraq.
As you may know, the PKK has bases in Northern Iraq (aka Southern Kurdistan) from which they attack the Turkish military across the border.
You know how I hate to drag up politics on the old blog.....
But, give me a break GW! Your willing to risk the peace and stability of Kurdistan on Turkey's anti-Kurd campaign of oppression and would-be genocide? Really?
I am appalled at my government.
In other news, Turkeys recent elections saw the first openly Kurdish candidates elected to the Turkish parliament - twenty of them to be exact. This is a big step in a country where being Kurdish is in fact outlawed. How do you outlaw a race of people?
Of course, the Kurds have their own issues. As previously noted on this (high-quality) blog, Iraq won the Asia Cup final a few days ago. This led to much hoopla, flag waving and literal dancing in the streets. Unfortunately for about 50 people, they waved the wrong flag. The Iraqi flag is illegal up here in Kurdistan, so eager Iraq supporters hoisted the hated flag and landed themselves in jail.
I saw at least 200 individual Iraqi flags on the street that evening just between my house and the place we watched the game, so I know most people were not hassled by the fuzz, but it's ridiculous that even 50 were.
Speaking of the fuzz, Todd and I got stopped at a checkpoint yesterday and had to hand over the registration and his ID (he was driving). Our registration is expired (long story) so they told him they'd keep his ID until we could prove we had a new registration.
I wasn't having any of that, so I got out and argued with the officer. He ignored me, so we went to speak to the officer in charge of the checkpoint. I had spoken to the lesser officer in Kurdish, but I wanted to be as American as possible for the leader; i knew I'd get farther. I again explained that it wasn't Todd's car, so they shouldn't keep his license. He didn't care. He said that's just how it's done.
I used Todd to translate, by the way. I think he secretly loves to translate for me when I argue with Kurdish people.
The officer told me I could go ahead and pay 7000 Dinar and get the ID back right away. I told him it sounded like bribery, but I am pretty sure Todd did not translate that.
So, I asked him for a copy of the traffic laws. You know, something written down that I could study to be sure that I didn't break any more laws. He laughed and said that this wasn't America. I said "Well, YOU must have learned these laws somehow since YOU know when I have broken one. Can I get a copy of what you used to study?"
I am pretty sure that Todd translated all of that. The police officer just shook his head and laughed.
And totally caved. We left with Todd's license.
Oh, and we have a thermometer at the office now. It's currently only about 106 degrees. Feels great!