"[T]he 'real key issue here is figuring out a way to have the Turks come to grips with this -- the KGK, and to not just try to eliminate them militarily.'"
~ Admiral William Fallon.
~ Admiral William Fallon.
Turkish opposition parties are in a feeding frenzy, like sharks after chum, and, in this case, the chum is Büyükanıt and Erdoğan. The controversy has been raging in the Turkish press since Turkey's retreat from the Medya Defense Zones, and a number of articles have been published in English-language versions of some Turkish dailies. The first is a news analysis from Zaman, a pro-AKP Gülen daily:
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said he does not find the explanations of the chief of general staff “convincing,” and CHP leader Deniz Baykal said he believes the army left the work partially undone and “left pieces within the body after the operation.” Does this row mean that the opposition parties no longer trust the military bureaucracy? Or can this dogfight be a reflection of similar strife within the armed forces? Maybe the two opposition parties are trying to put distance between themselves and the TSK as they may have already realized that their perceived collaboration before the July 22 elections worked in favor of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). In any case, what was said cannot be undone, and the members of the TSK have a longer memory than the public; the CHP and MHP leaders will not find sympathy within army ranks for some time to come.
Actually , the only "perceived collaboration before the July 22 elections" would be the deal between Erdoğan and Büyükanıt. Mîr at Rastbêj referred to this deal in a meeting at Dolmabahçe Palace:
The answer lies in the private meeting between Erdogan and the chairman of the Turkish General Staff ,Yasar Buyukanit, in Dolmabahce Palace, a short time before the July 2007 elections. Apparently Erdogan and Buyukanit came to a deal about Gul's presidency, in which the AKP would touch none of Turkish generals' privileges and would support their policies to the end.
This meeting took place on 5 May 2007. What was the first thing Gül did as president? He visited the TSK in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, in September 2007:
It was immediately after Gül's visit that TSK operations intensified in The Region and that was the confirmation that the deal between AKP and the Paşas had been sealed.
Here's another example of the feeding frenzy:
Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, at his party's group meeting in Parliament yesterday, continued his criticism against the government and the military by saying the operation's end was a surprise "for the world."
[ . . . ]
"We found out from [Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar] Zebari and [PKK broadcast channel] Roj TV about the withdrawal," Baykal said, referring to a statement made by Zebari that came before the Turkish military's announcement that Turkish troops had withdrawn.
Oh, priceless--Deniz Baykal has to get his news from RojTV! And Baykal's not the only one having kittens; so is MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli:
Bahçeli also accused the General Staff of having earned the PKK a good reputation. He said that in its statements about the ground operation the General Staff frequently referred to PKK camps using words of legitimate international warfare such as, “command control units,” “correspondence and logistical installations” and “manned anti-aircraft weapons locations” and therefore legitimized the terrorist group as a guerilla organization.
“We believe that these terms traditionally used to refer to the units and actions of an orderly combatant power, when used in relation with the PKK, attach to the terrorist group a significance it neither possesses nor deserves,” Bahçeli said.
He also said the ground operation, which started on Feb. 21, was begun with pride and great expectations in Turkey but in the end was greeted with disappointment.
Baykal also accused AKP of being space cadets during the fiasco, referring to the change in Erdoğan's speech to the country, which had been distributed to the media several hours before the speech was supposed to be aired. It goes without saying that AKP and the TSK are in deep denial:
However Erdoğan as well as President Abdullah Gül have denied any problem in coordination, and Büyükanıt said in remarks published on Saturday that the prime minister had been informed, though not “minute by minute.”
Büyükanıt repeated assurances on Monday that there had been sufficient coordination among all state institutions and explained that the prime minister had recorded his speech on Feb. 27, before the decision to withdraw had been made.
The thing to watch for now is whether or not AKP changes Turkish law to allow Büyükanıt to stay on as chief of general staff. He's due to retire next year, but if the Islamists need him to maintain the deal, they'll change the law . . . just as they changed the law to allow separatist convict R. Tayyip Erdoğan to become prime minister.
Since there have been so many leaks against the military by the Islamists in the last year, it would be interesting to know whether or not, in making the deal, they threatened to rat out Büyükanıt for all the shit they know he's done in his life, particularly while he was the commander in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. After all, Büyükanıt was the commander in Amed (Diyarbakır) for a portion of the 1990s and that's where the mass grave was found--in the military compound.
Then there was this amazing statement in the opinion section of Hürriyet:
Turkey's military has been thrown on the defensive since last Friday's surprise decision to pull all troops out of Iraq after eight days of often fierce combat with the outlawed PKK separatists in the snow-bound mountains of northern Iraq.
Another opinion-maker at Hürriyet blames CHP and MHP for whipping Turkish public reaction to the fiasco:
Before they [Turkish troops] have even had a chance to get a taste of warm beds back at their barracks, the chorus of voices rises, or more pointedly the long finger of politics points: "Why did you return so early?...."
I say: You go spend a night over there.
Parroting Büyükanıt, I guess this guy forgot what happened to eight other Turkish troops who were returned to Turkey, unharmed, by PKK. Before they get "a chance to get a taste of warm beds back at their barracks," they have to face long prison sentences--a lifetime prison sentence for the ethnic Kurd among them. It must not have been enough to return a bunch of flash-frozen Turkish troops to the homeland.
In other news, it appears that rumors are flying about an attempted resignation by Münir Paşa. Everyone should remember him as the star in a Youtube video which leaked a voice recording of Münir Paşa's confirmation of only 5 killed in Turkey's December bombings of PKK. This news finally made it into Bugün. Büyükanıt vigorously denies any attempt to resign by Münir Paşa.
In the American military, there's an interesting turn of events which has gathered the attention of Turkish media. Admiral William Fallon, the man who put the skids on a Persian Gulf build-up against Iran last year, has stated that Turkey needs to negotiate with PKK. This makes the second time in 24 hours that high-ranking US military officers have suggested the idea, with Lieutenant General Ray Odierno having made a similar, but weaker, statement on the matter yesterday.
Here are some of Fallon's remarks:
"They certainly have instigated lots of trouble, and they've had a lot of casualties in Turkey but the real solution here, to me, is that there's some kind of accommodation reached with this group and with the Turks inside of Turkey, to knock this off," Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of the US Central Command, told a House of Representatives committee hearing on Wednesday. "We certainly recognize the pain the Turks have felt from the outlawed and terrorist activities of this group, but we know that the long-term solution is some kind of an accommodation."
Fallon's remarks came a day after a former senior US commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, said negotiations could be conducted with the PKK after a certain period of pressure on the group. "I believe that the long-term solution in northern Iraq is not a military one. And so -- but obviously there's pressure that has to be put on them, so we can start to talk and have negotiations with these terrorist elements," Odierno, who was second in command in Iraq for 15 months until he returned home in mid-February, said.
[ . . . ]
. . . [T]he "real key issue here is figuring out a way to have the Turks come to grips with this -- the KGK, and to not just try to eliminate them militarily." KGK stands for Kongra-Gel, another name for the PKK. "We certainly recognize the pain the Turks have felt from the outlawed and terrorist activities of this group, but we know that the long-term solution is some kind of an accommodation, to scratch some of the itches of the KGK. And so we'll give them the help that we can, but we're really strongly encouraging them to figure out a political solution here," he added.
I guess these guys aren't close enough to retirement to have made some kind of comfortable arrangement with Lockheed Martin yet, but let's remember that former US General Joseph Ralston rejected a political solution back in 2006, soon after his appointment as Turkey's "PKK coordinator."
We might also consider that after Turkey's recent fiasco, and with full American knowledge that no one can remove PKK from the Medya Defense Zones, and that PKK's support among the people does not diminish, the Americans supported a Turkish invasion knowing that it would fail. Now that it has failed, a political solution is obvious to everyone, not only PKK and DTP.
Call me skeptical but I won't hold my breath for any move on this; the US has never been an ally of Kurdistan and cannot be trusted. However, it's a subject that bears watching. If someone has Fallon's email address, send him this link and a link to this. I mean, his nose might as well be rubbed in it.
In the meantime, let's remember why PKK fights. Here's a video of Turkey's finest in Mersin, repeatedly smashing the head of a Kurdish boy into the sidewalk:
It's why they fight. More at Özgür Gündem.