And the US reveals its secret offer to Turkey
If Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, had not revealed that there had been a secret offer to the Turkish government to have an “Anti-bin Laden” type joint operation against Murat Karayılan and other military leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based in the north of Iraq, it would possibly have remained a secret for many more years.
Responding to questions from Turkish journalists, Ricciardone said on Oct. 16 that the U.S. had offered the Turkish government its state of the art military technology to hunt down the military leaders of the PKK. However, the Turkish government declined, saying it would continue fighting the PKK “on the basis of its laws and experiences.”
When asked the same day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed that he had turned down the offer on a rather technical basis. “Bin Laden was caught in a house” he said, recalling the U.S. commando raid on a house near the Pakistani capital Islamabad on May 2, 2011. “But the struggle here is in mountainous geography”. (We can assume that the offer was made within the last year-and-a-half.)
As far as has been revealed up to now, this is the second secret offer of assistance by the U.S. against the PKK. The PKK has waged an armed campaign for an independent Kurdish state carved out of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, which has claimed over 40,000 lives over the last three decades. The first offer was in 1999, when Abdullah Öcalan, the founding leader of the PKK, was on run and seeking to hide in European capitals (Athens, Moscow and Rome) like a loose mine. This was after he had been expelled from Syria in 1998 upon Ankara’s threatening Damascus with use of force. It was during President Bill Clinton’s term, and the CIA had offered its Turkish counterpart MİT help in hunting Öcalan down. Then-Turkish President Süleyman Demirel welcomed the offer, and on Feb. 15, 1999 Öcalan was captured at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, brought to Turkey, tried, sentenced to life, and put in a special prison on İmralı Island, south of Istanbul.
There are two questions to be answered:
The second one is, why did the U.S. reveal this secret offer, knowing that it would put Turkish government in a difficult position? An answer to this question could partly be found between the lines of what Ricciardone said. Apparently, complaints from Turkey - especially the recent statements of General Necdet Özel, the Turkish Chief of General Staff - upset the U.S. administration, which underlines the importance of sharing intelligence. Perhaps the U.S. does not want the PKK issue to be discussed over its head on the eve of consecutive elections in Turkey - if you reveal a secret, you can reveal more.
But there is still no satisfying answer to the first question: Why on earth did the Turkish government turn down this offer of assistance against the PKK?