U.S. Knew Of Turkey's Plan To Hit PKK, Didn't Object

February 26th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Knew Of Turkey's Plan To Hit PKK, Didn't Object

Wall Street Journal
February 26, 2008
Pg. 4
By Yochi J. Dreazen
WASHINGTON -- The Turkish government briefed the Bush administration about its plans to strike northern Iraq well in advance of launching the controversial operation and the U.S. raised no objections, according to American and Turkish officials.
Turkish representatives told U.S. diplomatic and military officials that Ankara was planning to send ground troops into Iraq to strike targets belonging to the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, an anti-Turkish guerilla group, according to officials from both countries. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan personally told President Bush about the plans, the officials said. The White House confirmed the conversation occurred.
In the conversations, U.S. officials urged Turkey to limit the scope and duration of the assault but raised no real objections, according to officials from both countries.
"In terms of the ground operation, we did inform well in advance the U.S. diplomatic and military authorities," Turkish ambassador Nabi Sensoy said in an interview. "They understood why Turkey was doing this."
A senior U.S. administration official confirmed Turkey discussed the planned invasion with the U.S. and said the U.S. didn't give the Turks a firm red light. "We already have a lot of cooperation with them in the area, providing intelligence," he said.
The administration has offered virtually no public criticism of the Turkish strikes, which mark the first large-scale Turkish push into Iraqi territory since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday the PKK was a threat to the U.S., as well as to Turkey and Iraq. "The PKK is a common enemy," he told reporters.
The fighting pits two close U.S. allies against each other. Turkey has political, economic and military ties to the U.S., and the Bush administration often cites Turkey as proof that Islam and democracy are compatible. The Iraqi Kurds, meanwhile, have a longstanding relationship with the U.S. and have supported the administration's political aims in Iraq since 2003.
Behind the scenes, though, the Bush administration has grown increasingly frustrated with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership in recent weeks. Many Pentagon and State Department officials are upset with the Kurds for failing to take strong measures against the PKK despite repeated promises to crack down on the group.
"There's a bit of a sense that the Kurds have kind of brought this on themselves," said a senior U.S. military commander, who added that Turkey had exercised "considerable restraint" in the face of a wave of deadly PKK attacks on Turkish targets.
Kurdish officials have begun to publicly accuse the U.S. of effectively collaborating with the Turkish assaults.
Mr. Sensoy said Ankara wasn't feeling any real U.S. pressure to wind down the effort. "I don't think there is pressure, and I do not expect that there will be any," he said. "Turkey will stop the operation when the predetermined military targets are achieved."
Mr. Sensoy said at least 17 Turkish soldiers had been killed in the fighting, and he estimated Turkish forces had killed 153 guerillas. PKK officials said their casualties were far lower and said the guerillas killed more than 80 Turkish soldiers. The PKK also claimed to have shot down a Turkish helicopter, although Turkey said the cause of the crash was being investigated.
In a statement posted on its Web site, the Turkish military said its forces fired dozens of artillery shells at PKK targets and fought at close quarters with PKK guerillas in four parts of northern Iraq. The military said Turkish forces had found and destroyed PKK shelters, logistics centers, and ammunition and weapons caches. PKK fighters were booby-trapping corpses and laying mines on many mountainous roads, the military said.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the PKK issue was "not solely a military problem," echoing similar comments over the weekend from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

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