Trouble Brewing between Turkey and US?

The Turkish government has been requesting Iraq to crack down on these groups for ages. The US does not want to interfere it seems even though it classifies the PKK as a terrorist group. Obviously all terrorist groups are not equal in fact from time to time the US has helped out terrorist groups acting against Iran.

Turkey's military chief on Thursday said it was necessary to launch a cross-border military operation into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels but that any decision to do so needed political approval from the Turkish government.

"It is necessary to launch an operation into Iraq," Chief of General Staff Yasar Buyukyanit told reporters. "The (Kurdish Workers' Party) PKK has huge freedom of movement in Iraq."

He also said the military had launched a number of large-scale operations against PKK rebels in south-east Turkey.

Buyukyanit said the operations had been launched as snow melting in mountain passes made it easier for rebels from the PKK to enter Turkey from neighbouring Iraq.

The general's statement will increase pressure on the Turkish government to give the green-light to a cross-border operation aimed at destroying PKK camps in mountainous northern Iraq. The military has previously said there are around 5,000 PKK guerrillas based at the camps.

The Turkish government has repeatedly called on the United States and Iraq to launch its own operations against the PKK, an organization that both the United States and the European Union describe as a terrorist group, the last coming on Wednesday from Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

"Our position is very clear ... If harm is coming to Turkey from a neighbour then that neighbour must do something to stop it," Gul said on Wednesday. "If they do not have the power (to stop the PKK) then international law provides the necessary remedies," Gul said.

While US officials have expressed their sympathy for Turkey's position they say that US forces in Iraq are too stretched to be able to carry out such an operation.

The United States is also concerned that a Turkish operation would upset Iraqi Kurdish groups and might destabilize the region, the only part of Iraq that is relatively free of violence.

Buyukyanit said 13 Turkish soldiers had died fighting PKK rebels in the first four months of the year and complained that the 2003 US- led invasion of Iraq had resulted in a large number of Iraqi army weapons falling into the hands of the Kurdish guerrillas.

More than 32,000 people, mainly Kurdish civilians caught in the crossfire, have been killed since the PKK launched its fight for independence or autonomy in the early 1980s for the predominantly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.


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