Guest Op-Ed: PKK Terrorism Undermines US Policy in Middle East

An informed observer writes anonymously:

‘“With our understanding of the worries of the Turkish friends, we are ready to undertake urgent negotiations with senior Turkish officials to discuss all points of disagreement,” he said. (NYT)

The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Authority (KRG) is not a party to the “negotiations” because they are not a state Turkey recognizes.

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), under US law, is a “terrorist organization.” The Mahdi Army and split-ups and spin-offs (terms derived from the US Internal Revenue Code) are not “terrorist organizations.” The US military is attacking the Mahdi Army, but not the PKK.

The PJak [the Kurdish guerrillas from Iranian Kurdistan, based in Iraq] is not a “terrorist organization,” but consideration is being given to designating the Qods Force or the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps a “terrorist organization.”

A “terrorist organization” attacks civilians in order to achieve a political objective by inducing political decision-makers – affected by public opinion arising from civilian deaths – to change their policies.

Attacks against military forces are – by definition – not “terrorist acts.” They are “acts of war.”

The PKK, during the past two weeks, has committed both “terrorist acts” and “acts of war,” except that, not being a state, they cannot be deemed to have committed acts of war.

Turkey’s General Staff is not interested in “negotiations,” they are interested in actions which would eliminate the PKK as a threat to Turkey’s national security. The “Bush Doctrine” of preemption – applied to justify the invasion of Iraq even although there was no “armed attack” or “imminent threat,” and notwithstanding that no such attack could be predicted on the basis of facts upon which all relevant parties could agree – can be applied without controversy (except by the objections of the KRG) to justify an Iraq incursion by Turkey’s Army.

Will the Maliki Government or the US Government commit do doing anything about the PKK? The Security Council mandate requires the US Government to contribute to establishing and maintaining law and order. Both the PKK and Turkey’s Army, if it made an incursion into Iraq, would be breaching law and order by their activities in Iraq. The responsibility to do something about the activities of the PKK is within the jurisdiction of both the MNF-I and the Iraq Government. Determining which government takes precedence depends upon whether the Iraqi Security Forces are “ready” to assume the responsibility. A state of readiness to accept the responsibility cannot be determined without the consent of the US Government. The three Provinces comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government’s territory have been determined to be within the area of responsibility of the Iraq Government (they have been “handed over” by the MNF-I [Multinational Forces]).

If anything is to be done about the PKK, only the Iraq Government has the formal responsibility to do whatever it is. The US Government should have nothing to do with it. In the past, the US Government would have had over-riding influence with respect to the matters being discussed. The failure to obtain from Turkey’s government transit rights for the 4th Infantry Division was a “tipping point” in the standing, credibility, power and influence of the US Government in the Middle East. It has yet to be determined what, if anything, the US Government does to “force” (the term used in the Saudi Council of Ministers resolution with respect to the establishment of the Peace and Security Committee, now displaced by Quartet Representative Blair) the Government of Israel to make commitments that would satisfy those who are yet to determine whether or not they will attend the November Conference.

That decision by the US Government will be the ultimate defining “tipping point.” The Iraq Government has no power or influence with respect to that decision. There will be an effective November Conference only if the relevant parties have agreed in advance on what should be done at the Conference. That is customary procedure for major international conferences. It is deemed to be “mysterious” in this case.

The Iraq Government is “sovereign” or not “sovereign,” depending upon which issue is being discussed. With respect to the PKK, the Iraq Government should have the jurisdiction and power to make the final decision. The jurisdiction and power should be exercised by the Iraqi Army (and National Police) taking “all necessary measures” to eliminate the PKK. That probably will not happen because the US Government will not endorse or even permit the actions to be taken. There are factions, even within the White House, in favor of restructuring the National Police completely or leaving it as it is. The latter course would be “conservative,” the former “radical.” The US Government must (should) make up its mind. As matters stand, its designations of who is a “terrorist organization” require one result, but its policies are inconsistent. If the “rule of law” is the standard, the MNF-I would cease its attacks against the Sadr Movement (and split-ups and spin-offs) and undertake “all necessary measures” against the PKK in Iraq. Who should determine who is and is not a member of the Mahdi Army? Obviously, Muqtada al-Sadr.

The problem is not “complexity.” The problem is US Government ambivalence. The Bush Administration is ambivalent notwithstanding the clear indication of the will of a majority of Americans expressed in public opinion polls. Which of the US and Iraq Governments, if either of them, will act in accordance with the principle of democracy and the rule of law? The decisive factor appears to be the national security interests of the State of Israel and the Republic of Iraq, in that order. Except for its military presence in Iraq, strictly and accurately construed and applied, the US has no “national security interests” in Iraq or Palestine-Israel. The absence of a “national security interest,” instead of leading to a complete recusal, permits flexibility in determining what is to be done by both Republicans and Democrats. Messrs Hagel, Warner and others are retiring, unable to “stay the course” with the nonsense reflected by the analysis set forth above. No one is loudly blaming them, all implicitly recognizing the nonsense.

It used to be a sign of “sophistication” to cut through nonsense to an ultimate “reality.” In the Internet Era, post-September 11, everyone is sophisticated. Yet the bottom line result is not different. Plus ca change …

As President Putin said in his “seminal” Munich speech, the way to go forward is to go back to the UN Charter.

There is a change. The only country with a clear policy, applied consistently, is the People’s Republic of China. The PRC will prevail in applying “the rule of law.” Which comes first, the political or economic component? The political component comes first, except in the case of the PRC. ‘

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