With an Iraqi delegation in Ankara to discuss the standoff over PKK rebels in northern Iraq, Turkish war planes and helicopters reportedly bombed guerilla bases within Iraq’s borders Oct. 26. However, even as the state-run Anatolia news agency reported the air-strikes, top military commander Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said that day that Turkish leaders will wait until Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets President Bush in Washington on Nov. 5 before deciding whether to mount a cross-border offensive into Iraq. “The armed forces will carry out a cross-border offensive when assigned,” private NTV quoted Gen. Yasar Buyukanit as saying. “Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to the United States is very important. We will wait for his return.” Turkey’s deputy prime minister Cemil Cicek said his government has demanded the extradition of Kurdish rebel leaders based in Iraq’s north. Asked what the US military was planning to do, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of US forces in northern Iraq, said: “Absolutely nothing.” (AP, Oct. 27)
A week earlier, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington and Baghdad were prepared to do the “appropriate thing” if necessary to remove the PKK form Iraqi terrtiory. He did not specify what that implied. Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani responded: “We frankly say to all parties: if they attack the region or Kurdistan experiment under whatever pretext, we will be completely ready to defend our democratic experiment and the dignity of our people and the sanctity of our homeland.” (AFP, Oct. 19)
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