IRAQ AND THE KURDS….Under threat of military action from Turkey, Iraq says it’s willing to crack down on the Kurdish terrorists who have been making raids on Turkish soil for more than 20 years:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement in Baghdad promising to close the offices of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, news services reported.
“The PKK is a terrorist organisation and we have taken a decision to shut down their offices and not allow them to operate on Iraqi soil. We will also work on limiting its terrorist activities which are threatening Iraq and Turkey,” the statement said.
….[President Bush] held a videoconference yesterday with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, after telephone calls from Rice and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to Iraqi Kurdish leaders on Sunday. The United States is not prescribing a specific formula, U.S. officials said, but wants to see Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq take tough measures, such as securing the borders to prevent guerrilla incursions, interdicting rebel operatives, arresting the group’s leaders or putting Iraqi forces around the PKK camps in the rugged Qandil mountain range.
Isn’t something missing here? I’m not super savvy about the weedy details of Iraqi politics, but even I know that Maliki has something close to zero influence over anything that happens in Iraqi Kurdistan. “Iraqi” troops aren’t going to do a damn thing about PKK guerrillas, and everyone knows it.
And while this might just be an oversight, it’s telling that this story doesn’t include anything about PUK leader (and Iraqi president) Jalal Talabani or KDP leader Massoud Barzani, the two guys who might at least theoretically make a difference here. Ditto for both the New York Times writeup and the LA Times account (though the LAT at least mentions Talabani’s name). By contrast, here’s Juan Cole’s take:
The fact is that the PKK is being coddled by Massoud Barzani and his Peshmerga, who could stop them hitting Turkey if they so desired. The other fact is that the US only has one really reliable ally in Iraq, which is the Kurds, and their paramilitary or the Peshmerga is the only element in the new Iraqi army that fights with any spunk or initiative. The US cannot afford to alienate Barzani or the Peshmerga; hence it is forced to try to wheedle Turkey into inaction in the face of a rather dramatic set of provocations.
Three newspapers, three thousand words, but not even a paragraph or two about the political realities governing the Kurdish region of Iraq? Why do I have to go to the blogosphere to get any real sense of what’s going on?