Turkey eyes intel cooperation with Iran, Iraq
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 9/12/2011 12:00:00 AM | Serkan Demirtaş
Turkey has increased its pressure on administrators in Iraq over the presence and activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
Turkey has increased its pressure on administrators in Iraq over the presence and activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in the country with demands that they share intelligence and cut the group’s logistic channels.
Turkey has also demanded human and technical intelligence from Iran on the PKK’s hideouts in the Kandil Mountains in light of Tehran’s recent incursions into the region, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey launched a fresh diplomatic campaign towards its southern neighbors following the rise in the militants’ attacks since mid-July, which have killed dozens of security forces as well as civilians and pushed the government to adopt a new anti-terror strategy. The undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, paid a two-day trip to Iraq over the weekend while Turkish civilian and military officials gathered for a security summit Monday in Ankara. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu informed the summit on the results of Sinirlioğlu’s visit.
According to the diplomatic sources, the Turkish envoy’s messages to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the head of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, aimed to impress upon Iraqi Kurdish politicians Turkey’s determination at ending the terror threat posed by the PKK. Sinirlioğlu reportedly made it clear that Turkey would not tolerate the militants’ seeking of shelter in northern Iraq from which they infiltrate Turkey to commit attacks.
He also said Turkey would not hesitate to use self-defense if there were no halt to the attacks by the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
One of Turkey’s most important demands from Barzani, whose peshmerga force of nearly 100,000 fighters controls almost all of northern Iraq, is to cut the PKK’s logistic channels.
“Barzani controls all roads linking the Kandil Mountains to the settlement areas of northern Iraq from which the terrorists supply their logistical needs. We have repeated to them [that they need] to cut these channels,” a diplomatic source told the Daily News.
The source said they perfectly understood the difficulties Barzani would face if he were to take on the PKK in an armed conflict, but added that “this is not a hurdle to cooperating with Turkey in its anti-terror fight.”
Turkey also demanded the names of passengers flying to airports in Arbil and Sulaymaniyah from European cities in order to control the PKK’s links in European countries from which the organization receives financial assistance. Both cities are linked to a number of European countries such as Belgium, Germany, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and others through private airlines.
Another issue the Turkish delegation raised during its meeting with Talabani was Ankara’s request that the United States deploy a fleet of unmanned Predator aerial vehicles to the İncirlik base in Adana after U.S. troops pull out of Iraq by the end of this year so that they can be used in surveillance against the PKK. Using the Predators to monitor the Iraqi border would require a separate agreement between Baghdad and Washington, something Sinirlioğlu also mentioned in his meetings with Iraqi officials, according to reports.
[HH] Intelligence sharing with Iran
Speaking at a press conference Monday following a Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç confirmed Turkey’s intention to acquire the systems and added that the Foreign Ministry’s talks were continuing to this end.
According to sources, alongside Iraq, Turkey has also demanded more cooperation from Iran, another neighboring country who is also fighting against the PKK. Iran recently launched a massive operation against the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, an affiliate of the PKK, and reportedly pushed militants back to the Kandil Mountains. Turkey demanded intelligence sharing from Iranian officials about the hideouts and results of Iran’s offensive against the armed group’s members, sources said.
Sinirlioğlu’s visit to Iraq, coupled with Monday’s security summit, fueled speculation over an upcoming ground operation into northern Iraq by the Turkish military.
“Don’t associate today’s meeting with this operation. As our prime minister already said, ‘A ground operation is not something to talk about but something to realize.’ As you know, Parliament’s mandate allows for such an operation until Oct. 17. Whenever it is deemed necessary, it will be realized,” he said.
[HH] AKP calls on Iraq
In line with Turkish officials’ messages to Iraqi officials, a senior ruling party member also urged Barzani and Talabani to do their job in not allowing their territories to become bases for militants. “Our expectation from Mr. Talabani is to help us in the developments within Iraq. The best help he can give is not to make their soil a base for terror groups attacking Turkey,” Hüseyin Çelik, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, told reporters Monday.
In related news, officials from Barzani’s office denied reports that Turkey requested the right to establish a military base in northern Iraq to better fight against the PKK.