Thousands of Turkish troops backed by helicopters battled Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgents near the Iraqi border April 8, in clashes that left 10 soldiers and seven guerillas dead. The fighting was centered in the provinces of Tunceli, Bingöl, Bitlis and Şırnak. (Zaman, April 9)
In the wake of the clashes, the Turkish press is making much of comments by retired US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Richard Myers that battling the PKK is not a top US concern. “The fight against PKK, which is not an easy job to handle, does not have high priority in the agenda of the US,” Myers told Voice of America April 7. (New Anatolian, April 9)
Turkish sentiments were also inflamed over recent comments by Massoud Barzani, regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan, threatening to invade Turkish territory if Turkey does not accept Kurdish control of Kirkuk. Barzani told Al-Arabiya TV: “We will intervene in Diyarbakir (the southeastern Turkish provincial capital where citizens of Kurdish origin are a majority) if Turkey intervenes in Kirkuk.” He also said of Turkey wants to talk about the rights of the rights of the Turkmens in Kirkuk the Iraqi Kurds will talk about the rights of the Kurds in Turkey. (New Anatolian, April 10)
Both sides say they are trying to mend fences, but this represents a dramatic escalation in the recent sabre-rattling between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.