The Turkish military announced on Monday that it had killed another 41 Kurdish guerrillas inside Iraq. It claims to have killed 151 fighters of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) during the present operation. It admitted the deaths of 2 more Turkish troops, bringing the total loss for Ankara in this operation to 17 dead.
The Turkish ambassador in Washington said Monday that the goal of the incursion was the destruction of the 4,000 PKK guerrillas holed up in the Kandil mountains of Iraq. The Bush administration appeared to give that goal its support. Iraq, in the meantime, complains that Turkey has violated its sovereignty. Even the Sadrists, who have a lot of tensions with the Kurds over the issue of decentralization, demanded that Turkish troops withdraw from Iraq.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports in Arabic that national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie expressed concern that if the Turkish forces prolong their presence inside Iraq, eventually they would come into direct conflict with the Peshmerga, the paramililtary of the Kurdistan Regional Authority.
Turkey released new video of its aerial bombardment of Iraq on Monday. The voice over is Turkish, but it is worth watching at least some of it to gain a sense of the violence:
AFP reports that “Up to 10,000 protestors gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, condemning the government for ordering the incursion. ‘Terrorist Erdogan, hypocrite Erdogan,’ they chanted.”
Opinion polling had been showing that the PKK was extremely unpopular among Turkish Kurds. (The PKK had often killed Turkish Kurds that it considered “collaborators” with the Turkish government; moreover, 99% of Turkish Kurds are not separatists.) But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erfogan is polarizing Turks and Turkish Kurds over this frontal attack on Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is easy to forget what precipitated this Turkish operation, but it was headlines this past summer and fall like this: “13 Turkish Soldiers Killed by Rebels.”
This article in Today’s Zaman suggests that one of Turkey’s motivations for the operation was to divide Washington from its close alliance with Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani, and to begin repairing the frayed Turkish-US alliance. Since the Bush administration had no choice but to tacitly approve and cooperate with a Turkish strike against a terrorist organization that has been killing NATO troops, it has inevitably angered the Kurds.
The Guardian presents video of the Turkish military operation in Iraq, as well as of a riot in Istanbul between pro-invasion crowds and pro-Kurdish demonstrators:
Unlike corporate US media, Aljazeera English is actually covering the Turkish-Kurdish issue and this clip includes interviews with politicians in Ankara and Irbil at the same time. Since it is all in English, you can’t argue that the US news networks could not do the same thing if they cared to. It is sort of a racist practice in much of US corporate media that foreigners are almost never allowed to speak to an American audience with their own voices.
Political violence killed at least 16 persons in Iraq on Monday. Another band of Shiite pilgrims was targeted with a roadside bomb in Baghdad, which killed 4 and wounded 15.
Reuters video on the Arba’in processions of the Shiites in Iraq:
AFP also says that Sunni Arab guerrillas ambushed an Iraqi army patrol near Buhriz in Diyala province, killing all 8 of them, including their comanding officer, a major. The Iraqi army is largely Shiite, but Diyala is majority Sunni, so this violence had a sectarian cast.
McClatchy reports other political violence on Monday:
. . . – Around 7:30 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded at Zafaraniyah neighborhood (east Baghdad) near Al-Noor mosque. No casualties recorded.
– Around 12:30 p.m., two roadside bombs exploded at the Qasim highway near the Shaab stadium (east Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.
– Around 2p.m., a roadside bomb exploded near Al-Dayer church. No casualties or damage reported.
– Around 4 p.m., mortars hit Qadisiyah neighborhood. No casualties recorded.
– Around 5:30 p.m., gunmen using Toyota sedan car opened fire on an army check point near the Um Al-Tibul mosque and ran away. No casualties recorded.
– Police found three dead bodies in Baghdad today. Two of them in Risafa bank : 1 in Ubaidi and 1 in Zafaraniyah while the third was found in Amil in Karkh bank.
– Around 9 a.m., gunmen killed two civilians at the downtown Baquba bus station.
– Early morning, gunmen disguised in the Iraqi army uniform killed a woman at Dowasir village of Bhrz, six km south of Baquba.
– Diyala police found a mass grave for eight dead women at Salam village of Khalis, 16 km north of Baquba.
– Around noon, a roadside bomb targeted a civilian car on the way between Qara taba and Khanaqeen in the north east of Baquba. Both passengers of the vehicle were killed in that incident. . .
– In the morning, a suicide bomber in a wheelchair targeted Brig. Gen. Abdul Jabar Rabiaa Salih, the assistant commander of Samarra operations. Salih was killed and an officer was injured.
– Early morning, a roadside bomb targeted the patrol of Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir, the chief of police of districts and towns, near al-Jamhouri hospital in downtown Kirkuk. No casualties were reported, but there some damage to one of the vehicles.
– Mortars hit a house at Tal Al-Ruman neighborhood in the city today. Three people were killed and four women were injured. All were from the same family.
– This morning, gunmen opened fire on three oil company guards at Bahadriya of Abu Al-Khaseeb, southeast of Basra. One guard was killed and the other two were seriously injured.
– Police found the body of the engineer Ali Mahmoud at Hamdan neighborhood in south Basra. Ali was kidnapped a month ago from his house at a residential compound by gunmen who were wearing police uniforms. ‘