"Iraqi Kurds generally sympathize with PKK fighters. It is a force that has been demanding and fighting for the rights of Kurds in Turkey for tens of years now, and the Turks have been very harsh to their Kurdish community by forbidding them from rights."
~ Asso Hardi
~ Asso Hardi
There has been a lot of information let loose lately, so I will point out a number of items for your perusal and consideration that I have been collecting over the last few days.
The first item is more those good people based out of Qendil:
Up a winding series of switchbacks lies Mardu village, northeast of Sulaymaniya. Kurdish farmers tend livestock and harvest peaches, apples and grapes. A few houses among dotted oak trees serve as a makeshift headquarters for the PKK. Male and female fighters, dressed in traditional billowing shalwar pants and olive combat tops, walk freely. Local Iraqis openly support them, and some Iraqi Kurds have left city life and their families to become soldiers with the Turkish Kurd rebels and their Iranian sister movement, Party for Free Life In Kurdistan, or PEJAK.
The villagers toast the guerrillas as champions of Kurdish rights. They say they are willing to endure sacrifices as the price of their association with a movement fighting to establish Kurdish self-rule in Turkey and Iran, where they believe their minority's basic privileges are denied.
[ . . . ]
Some describe the PKK as a vital trading partner and protector in a lawless area. Hussein Rashid, 45, regularly hauls gasoline and kerosene from Iran to sell to the guerrillas. He warned, "If the PKK is not here, then this will be a place for terrorism and Iran will send Ansar al Islam," a Sunni extremist group with links to Al Qaeda.
Shereen Sulaiman, 39, a mother of three, worried about what Turkey might do to the PKK. The rebel fighters "respect the people and serve the area. They even supply the area with electricity. I don't want them to be hurt," said Sulaiman, wearing a red dress with her hair covered by a black veil. "They are Kurds like us."
More on that, with a description of a PKK fighter from Silêmanî, at the LA Times.
Whoever thought that PKK was strictly a Kurdish operation, or even a Turkish Kurd operation, will have a shock coming to them in the next item:
BRITONS are among foreigners fighting Turkish troops with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, The Sunday Times can reveal.
According to PKK fighters holed up in one of the natural fortresses of the Qandil mountain range which runs along Iraq’s Turkish and Iranian borders, several Europeans have joined forces with their group.
At least three Britons were in the PKK’s 3,000-strong force, boasted one fighter as he and a group of men huddled in a room discussing the latest clashes with the Turkish army. Others include Russians, Germans, Greeks, Iranians and Arabs. The PKK is labelled by both Europe and America as a terrorist organisation.
As diplomatic efforts to avert war falter, the PKK’s fighters now lie in wait for the mechanised Turkish divisions gathering menacingly along the border. Previous Turkish incursions have failed to deal a mortal blow to the PKK and geography again conspires against them.
This isn't new so I can't call it news, but there's more where that came from at the Times Online.
Sometimes reality can be like a very cold shower:
Welcome to the latest regional war in the Middle East — Turkey's contemplated invasion of northern Iraq. Among other things, this latest Turkish aggression, preceded years ago by the invasion of Cyprus, threatens to:
• Send energy prices through the roof. With oil prices already at a record $90 a barrel, they will easily keep setting new highs as winter arrives in Europe and America.
• Set back American military and political efforts to stabilize an already convulsed Middle East, inviting even more meddling by Iran and Syria.
• Bring doom upon the Turkish invaders, who failed for more than 30 years to subjugate their Kurdish minority of 7 million, or 10% of Turkey's population. Now they would expand the fight to all 25 million Kurds, who share the mountainous border areas of Iraq, Iran, and Syria. These well-armed Kurds live in a contiguous area the size of Germany and Britain combined.
Okay, the author probably shouldn't use 1950's census figures for today's Kurdish population in Turkey, but he does go on to talk about the "pompous Turkish army". Check it out at The NY Sun.
Anonymous left a nice little link in comments. Following the link, I found this:
Current tightness in the oil markets (peak oil?) has presented the PKK, the Kurdish guerrilla group fighting the Turkish government, with an amazing opportunity. It can become responsible for sending oil prices over $100 a barrel and sowing panic in global markets.
How? This objective can be accomplished through a series of attacks on the BTC pipeline that runs from Azerbaijan to the Turkish port of Ceyhan (in a fashion similar to earlier attacks that PKK has made on less substantial pipelines). With over 750,000 barrels of oil flow a day (1 m a day next year) over 1,092 miles of pipeline, ongoing disruption would result in:
* An immediate price spike that would likely exceed $100 a barrel, an important psychological barrier. This is pricing power in the oil market on par with Saudi Arabia (see the 2004 brief: "A Shadow OPEC" for more).
* A major loss of income for Turkey from pipeline fees, as contractual caveats kick in. Also, substantial disruptions and price hikes for not only Turkish customers, but European customers too. This could put the final nail in coffin for Turkey's EU bid.
* Global recognition of their situation/cause and immediate international pressure on Turkey to resolve the crisis. At a minimum, if Turkey opts for violence, the disruption of the BTC would be a strategic timer on the conflict -- as in the longer it persists, the greater the international pressure to end it.
Okay, actually the PKK hasn't sent the price of oil skyrocketing; the jackasses that run Ankara have done that. But I'm not averse to taking advantage of a situation set up by said jackasses. Don't forget that Turkey has pipelines running natural gas from Iran, too, and PKK sent a warning to the jackasses on that last August. For more on the current speculation, see Global Guerrillas.
Americans love Kurds, right? Think again. Check out the story of Hamid Sayadi:
His story is one of the many that have both nothing and everything to do with 9/11. A witty and eloquent Kurdish-American in his 50s, Sayadi waved the flag of his adopted country and cheered its military for three decades — all to end up stripped to his underwear one day, in the boiler room of his workplace, he says, a ragged and sobbing husk of his former self.
The truth of what happened to him, and why, lies shrouded in the fog of endless war, and in the fog of work as well — that odd space where strangers are forced to co-exist for years on end. In that double blindness, even if the parties involved could agree on facts, who could say for sure what was appropriate and what was cruel, even unlawful?
Find the rest at SFGate.com.
Just in case you don't keep up with R. Tayip Erdoğan's social calendar, he'll be visiting in Washington next week. Word is that he's got ducks in order and plans to present them to Bush. You can read about that from the Fethullacı rag, Zaman. Note a few things, though:
1. Doesn't the list of arms allegedly seized from the PKK resemble some of the stuff found in the train cars HPG derailed back in May? To refresh your memory, check out DozaMe's information--complete with links to the original Turkish media sources. The paşas allowed the contents of one train car to leak briefly into the Turkish media and then the matter was censored, and we never learned what the entire contents was. My money says Erdoğan is bringing the list of all that weaponry and is going to pass it off as "seized from PKK."
What is conspicuously absent from this list of weapons are the American tanks which Erdoğan has insisted are in the PKK arsenal. Obviously the man is a victim of his own media propaganda.
2. The alleged affiliation of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN), the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI), and the Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNCNA) with the PKK would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic. These organizations have no affiliation with PKK.
3. As for Barzanî's alleged small business loans to PKK members, Erdoğan should not confuse the PKK with the Turkish General Staff and OYAK.