Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has suggested that sending Iraqi military and peshmerga troops to the border with Turkey will not help resolve the problem of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Hashemi, speaking in an interview with the Anatolia news agency on Friday, began by voicing his sadness over the loss of Turkish soldiers in attacks by the PKK. Turkey and all related parties should find a permanent solution to the issue, he added.
“There is no agreement that clearly outlines what the parties should do to establish permanent peace along the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran and to end the violence. The PKK and PJAK [Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan] issue will not be resolved by sending Iraqi military forces and peshmerga to the border region. A military solution is not sufficient on its own. A lot of solutions are needed,” Hashemi was quoted as saying by Anatolia.
The PKK uses its bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey. PJAK is also involved in clashes with Iranian forces.
Remarks by the Iraqi vice president came in contrast to what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said recently. Maliki stated on Monday that sending Iraqi troops to the north of Iraq is the best option to push out members of the PKK and its Iranian wing, PJAK.
Maliki’s comment was welcomed by Turkish leaders, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu highlighting that Turkey will not have to carry out cross-border operations into northern Iraq if Iraq protects its own soil.
Hashemi, nevertheless, admitted that Iraq, like all related parties, has a responsibility in resolving the PKK issue. He has not yet elaborated on Iraq’s responsibilities.
Turkey has carried out scores of air raids and artillery strikes this year in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region to hit PKK targets. Ankara has warned it may conduct a cross-border ground attack, depending on talks with Iraq.
Recently, Turkey’s Parliament passed a bill extending permission, as it has done several times since 2007, for the Turkish military to mount cross-border operations against members of the PKK in northern Iraq during the coming year. Turkish air and artillery operations against suspected PKK members in the Kandil Mountains have intensified since August. The strikes were ordered after a break of more than a year in retaliation for an increase in PKK attacks on security forces inside Turkey.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara following talks with Davutoğlu on Thursday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari underlined that the presence of the PKK in Iraq is not legitimate according to the Iraqi constitution.
“This is unacceptable, and no Iraqi government will accept it,” Zebari said in remarks translated from Arabic to Turkish.
At the same press conference, Davutoğlu reiterated Turkey’s determination to fight the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the majority of the international community.
Davutoğlu said one of the main items on the agenda of his meeting with Zebari was the cooperation of the two countries against the PKK. Noting that the terrorist group, which has bases in Iraq, poses a threat to both Turkey and Iraq’s territorial integrity, Davutoğlu said Turkey has to solidify its position against this threat. “Turkey is determined to end this terrorist activity,” Davutoğlu said.
Davutoğlu also reiterated his appreciation for Maliki’s remarks from Monday.
“If Iraq really ensures full military control on its own soil, this is both important for Iraq’s capacity to control its own soil and to prevent terrorist activity against Turkey. If this is the case, Turkey will have no need to stage cross-border operations [in northern Iraq against the PKK],” he reiterated.
14 October 2011, Friday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL