Sunday, February 11, 2007


"One clear reason for military invasion by Turkey would be their old ambition to re-annex Mosul 'Vilayet' (province) to its territory. They are still thinking in terms of the old Ottoman empire."
~ Ata Qaradakhi.

It appears that Turkey was indeed attempting to assassinate the governor of Kerkuk back in July 2003, from a little item on TNA:

The US may have been too harsh in its response to its ally Turkey in the July 2003 "sack crisis" in Sulaimaniyah, northern Iraq, but it had "good reasons," according to the account of a U.S. official published Friday.

The crisis took place when 11 Turkish Special Forces soldiers were arrested by U.S. troops and sacks were put over their heads.

The Turks were released after two days, but their arrest unleashed a torrent of criticism in a country where the military is a revered institution. Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey's former chief of staff, said the arrests had "led to the biggest crisis of confidence ever between Turkish and U.S. forces."

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs Matt Bryza, in a interview with Sabah daily, stated that the relationship between Turkey and U.S. continues to go on the right path.

When asked about former State Department official Henry Barkey's statement that the Turkish Special Forces troops detained by the U.S. were plotting to kill the governor of Kirkuk, a city whose status is in dispute, he replied, "He's a smart man. Maybe the U.S. was too harsh in its response to its ally Turkey in the sack crisis, but we had good reasons."

When asked why the 11 Turkish soldiers were treated "like al-Qaeda militants," he said, "As I said, he's a smart man. But we had good reasons. Is there any reason to antagonize one of our most important allies in Iraq, as well as in the world, Turkey?"

He also stressed that the U.S administration would continue to block the so-called Armenian genocide resolution, adding that Washington knows it would damage Turkish- U.S relations.

There were two events in 2003 which involved Turkish state efforts at creating instability in Kerkuk with the first in April 2003. Here's a refresher from TIME:

Even as the U.S. works to stabilize a postwar Iraq, Turkey is setting out to create a footprint of its own in the Kurdish areas of the country. In the days after U.S. forces captured Saddam's powerbase in Tikrit, a dozen Turkish Special Forces troops were dispatched south from Turkey. Their target: the northern oil city of Kirkuk, now controlled by the U.S. 173rd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade. Using the pretext of accompanying humanitarian aid the elite soldiers passed through the northern city of Arbil on Tuesday. They wore civilian clothes, their vehicles lagging behind a legitimate aid convoy. They'd hoped to pass unnoticed. But at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kirkuk they ran into trouble. "We were waiting for them," says a U.S. paratroop officer.

The Turkish Special Forces team put up no resistance though a mean arsenal was discovered in their cars, including a variety of AK-47s, M4s, grenades, body armor and night vision goggles. "They did not come here with a pure heart," says U.S. brigade commander Col. Bill Mayville. "Their objective is to create an environment that can be used by Turkey to send a large peacekeeping force into Kirkuk."

The second widely reported incident was in July 2003, from the Christian Science Monitor:

More than a week has passed since the US-led arrest and release of a Turkish special-forces team in northern Iraq. But with no US explanation yet, Ankara's still seething.

[ . . . ]

Washington has so far offered only vague justifications for the July 4 arrests. According to unconfirmed Iraqi Kurdish intelligence claims, the 11 men taken into US custody were part of a plot to assassinate the new Kurdish governor of Kirkuk.

Absolute nonsense, say officials in Ankara. Improbable, says the Kurdish governor himself. While far-fetched, the allegations tie in with one of the more inflammatory aspects of Turkey's foreign policy: its support for pro-Ankara elements among Iraq's Turkish-speaking Turkmen minority.

Turkey long feared war in Iraq could lead to an independent Kurdish state in the north of Iraq, with incalculable effects on its own restive Kurdish minority. For years it supported Baghdad as a guarantee of Iraq's territorial integrity. Faced with growing US determination to end Saddam Hussein's regime, though, it deepened relations with the Iraqi Turkoman Front, who were also raided by the US Friday.

Ankara insists its concern for the Turkmens is no different from its support in the 1980s of Bulgarian Turks oppressed under Communism. Patrick Clawson of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, doesn't buy it. "What did Turkey do for Turkoman affected by Saddam's Arabization campaigns around Kirkuk and Mosul in the '80s and '90s? Zip. This is purely political."

Absolute nonsense? Really? Yet the State Department's Matt Bryza not only refuses to deny the claim in TNA's article, he stresses that one of those who initially made the claim was "a smart man." Why is the US admitting the Turkish assassination attempt now? It most likely has to do with US support for the Kerkuk referendum coming up in December. Additionally, the US is not going to relinquish control of Kerkuk's oil to Turkey when State Department policy denies Kurdish control over Kurdish oil in "undisputed" Kurdish territory.

As Col. Mayville observed in April 2003, Turkey's objective was "to create an environment that can be used by Turkey to send a large peacekeeping force into Kirkuk." That remains Turkey's objective today. It is also the reason that a WINEP--no friend of Kurds--spokesman points to Turkey's total lack of concern for attacks against Turkmen by Saddam's regime. The fact is that for Turkey, the Turkmen card is, in reality, a red herring, as is the PKK card. Turkey's goal is the oil of Kerkuk and Mûsil.

While State Department flunkies like Bryza are content to admit the truth when it serves US interests, the use of political assassination by Turkey as a foreign policy tool with which to violate the "territorial integrity" of its neighbors is not considered objectionable by the US government per se. Nor is it objectionable for the US government that Turkey conducts false flag operations within South Kurdistan and Kerkuk. If such operations were to clash with US interests, surely the US would forbid Turkish mercenaries operating from US territory.

But Turkish mercenaries, former Special Team members (Ozel Timler), are in the process of conducting "security" operations from Silopî in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, a few short yards from the Habur border crossing into South Kurdistan. One of the major shareholders in Black Hawk Security, Inc., is retired Turkish general Koksal Karabay, who happened to be the officer in charge of the Special Team that was "bagged" by US forces on July 4, 2003, according to a report by Yeni Ozgur Politika from July of last year. The former special teams-turned-mercenaries hope to have everything completed at their Silopî base this year, just in time to create trouble in Kerkuk in the months running up to the referendum.

Additionally, Washington-based Black Hawk Security plans to create bases of operations for its mercenaries in Zaxo and Kerkuk, meaning that they have permission to do so from the KRG. Whether the KRG has willingly agreed to this arrangement as part of its efforts to encourage "foreign investment" or whether they have acceded to US demands for a Turkish mercenary presence in South Kurdistan remains to be discovered.

Regardless of the role of the KRG, the presence of Black Hawk Security in the region provides plausible deniability for the Ankara regime "to create an environment that can be used by Turkey to send a large peacekeeping force into Kirkuk" and all of South Kurdistan, effectively recreating the old Ottoman Mosul Vilayet.

Sunday evening reading assignment: There's a fascinating analysis by Chalmers Johnson, a specialist on East Asia, at Harper's. It begins with an abstract:

The United States remains, for the moment, the most powerful nation in history, but it faces a violent contradiction between its long republican tradition and its more recent imperial ambitions.

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

Several factors, however, indicate that this course will be a brief one, which most likely will end in economic and political collapse.

Military Keynesianism: The imperial project is expensive. The flow of the nation's wealth—from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers—has created a form of “military Keynesianism,” in which the domestic economy requires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.

The Unitary Presidency: Sustained military ambition is inherently anti-republican, in that it tends to concentrate power in the executive branch. In the United States, President George W. Bush subscribes to an esoteric interpretation of the Constitution called the theory of the unitary executive, which holds, in effect, that the president has the authority to ignore the separation of powers written into the Constitution, creating a feedback loop in which permanent war and the unitary presidency are mutually reinforcing.

Failed Checks on Executive Ambition: The U.S. legislature and judiciary appear to be incapable of restraining the president and therefore restraining imperial ambition. Direct opposition from the people, in the form of democratic action or violent uprising, is unlikely because the television and print media have by and large found it unprofitable to inform the public about the actions of the country's leaders. Nor is it likely that the military will attempt to take over the executive branch by way of a coup.

Bankruptcy and Collapse: Confronted by the limits of its own vast but nonetheless finite financial resources and lacking the political check on spending provided by a functioning democracy, the United States will within a very short time face financial or even political collapse at home and a significantly diminished ability to project force abroad.

For the meat of the article, scroll down to read the Discussion. You might want to keep in mind the news on Lockheed Martin and the rest of the war industry that you've read about here on Rastî, from Sibel Edmonds, and from Richard Cummings.

No comments: