The PKK and Turkey

24 10 2007

I apologize for my extended and unannounced hiatus. I was sick and also incredibly busy. If this were a real blog that people read I probably couldn’t get away with that, but fortunately it is not.

I’m going to start with the gigantic news that’s all over the U.S. press -that Turkey wants to cross its border with Iraq to take out the PKK.

This is not a real countryThe PKK is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. For the uninitiated, there is, in fact, no official Kurdistan – Kurds are spread out over Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and a little bit of Syria and Russia.

Kurds have been campaigning for their sovereignty since the early 20th century, and the PKK functions somewhat like the Irish Republican Army. Their activities are primarily focused on obtaining the independence of Kurdistan, and they sometimes engage in terrorism to that end.

As you can see on the map there, a significant portion of the Kurdish population lives in what is officially Turkey, and there has historically been a lot of tension between Turkey and Kurdish nationalists.

So, some Iraqi members of the PKK crossed the Iraq-Turkey border and killed several Turkish soldiers. I think it was 12. And Turkey wants to cross the border and retaliate.

The problem for the U.S. is that the Kurds are our only friends in Iraq, and we would prefer not to piss them off. It’s a pickle.


I’d almost forgotten about Al-Jazeera English

14 09 2007

That is, the broadcast service, not the web service.

In case you didn’t hear about it yesterday: Sattar Abu Reisha, a leader of the Sunni tribes in al-Anbar who have recently aligned with the United States against al-Qaeda, was killed yesterday by a roadside bomb. Al-Jazeera ran a story on him before he was killed, and this is it.

Part One:

Part Two:

Read the story about Abu Reisha (written before he was killed): Al-Anbar’s Ghost

(I know all these stories are from Egypt and Al-Jazeera so far. Stuff from Palestine and Iran is coming soon.)

Resistance Group Wants to Negotiate With the U.S.

13 09 2007

I know I said that my next post would be a passionate defense of Al-Jazeera, but I was planning on referencing this book by an old professor of mine and I just remembered I let a friend borrow it. So I’m saving the defense.

But I’ll start with a story from Al-Jazeera: Iraq Tribal Leader Offers U.S. Talks.

Islamic Army of Iraq

The Islamic Army in Iraq has offered to begin peace negotiations with the United States if the U.S. provides a timetable for the withdrawal of troops.

The IAI is a nationalist organization composed mostly of Sunni Iraqis with a minority of Shi’a, and many of them are Baathists. Their goal is to remove both the U.S. and Iran from Iraq, and they’ve been involved in more than a few kidnappings. They also were at one time associated with Al-Qaeda, but have severed ties because, according to the article, Al-Qaeda’s “agenda started to reveal itself clearly in October last year.” Also according to the article, the IAI is the largest armed group in Iraq.

I’m using this story to illustrate a point – well, two points actually. Read the rest of this entry »