Turkey’s once-close relations with Israel are in jeopardy following the deadly Israeli naval attack on a Turkish-organized “Free Gaza” aid flotilla, with Ankara reportedly instating on a freeze on deals with Israeli defense contractors. But this has not kept the Turkish military from using Israeli-supplied drones against the Kurdish PKK rebels—inside Iraq. According to Turkish sources, the army has been using Israeli-made drones to locate PKK positions, both in eastern Turkey and northern Iraq. After delays of more than two years, a partnership of Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israeli defense firm Elbit delivered six Heron drones to the Turkish military in April. Four more are expected later this month. (Ha’aretz, Hurriyet Daily News, June 20)
This week, 10 members of a group 34 Kurds who returned to Turkey last October after several years in exile in northern Iraq were arrested after being charged with “supporting a terrorist organization.” The group’s return was one of the first visible tests of the government’s new peace initiative in the eastern regions—sometimes referred to as the “Kurdish opening.” More groups of exiled Kurds were supposed to come after the first one, but the heroes’ welcome given to the initial group and the fact that jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said they returned at his command, made the affair politically costly for the government; plans for further returns have been put on hold. (Hurriyet Daily News, June 17)
Comments Yigal Schleifer on his Istanbul Calling blog: “So much for amnesty and reconciliation.”
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Turkish officers in Israel for drone instruction
File under “Life’s little ironies.” From YNet, June 23: