Saturday, February 23, 2008
GROUND OPERATION; ALL OUR BOYS, NOT NUMBERS...
Latest news reports "Zap" base (Cemto hill and valley where kidnapped Turkish soldiers kept)of terrorists is destroyed and now the target is Kandil. Many soldiers from different units/ areas applied as volunteers to participate the operation at the front and their petitions sent to headquarters. Dozens civilians also apply to Military recruiting offices to volunteer taken under obligation and sent to northern Iraq. Police in cities are in alarm for possible suicide bomb attacks. There are some other reports about the chaos in PKK, between the leading group. There had been some members surrendered to officials in various paleces around the country.
There are two interesting points to pay attention in international news; Operation begin only few days after Bush wanted more involvement of Turkish Forces in Afghanistan and Putin announced they can use force in Kosovo only half an hour fallowing Turkiye announced the Ground Operation "Sun" (name of the daughter of a late martyr).
Ofcourse the greatest opportunism came from our own President; he signed the law on headcarf ban in universities as soon as the operation begin. Could there be a better time to prevent protests?...
Here are some news from Turkish media in English;
(HURRIYET)HIGHLIGHTS - Turkey launches ground operation vs PKK in Northern Iraq
The ground operation started after Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed suspected PKK targets on Thursday, the military said on its Web site. The operation is expected to last 15 days, CNN Turk reported, citing security sources.
-- TV channels and news agencies reported 10,000 troops were taking part in the cross-border offensive and the Turkish troops entered 10 km inside the Iraqi border. But CNN Turk reported 3,000 troops from special forces take part in the operation, citing security sources. Reports say the operation focused on the Hakurk region of northern Iraq.
-- Turkish General Staff said 24 terrorists were killed and several others were wounded in clashes between terrorists and Turkish security teams on Friday. General Staff said in a statement it is estimated that at least 20 moreterrorists were rendered ineffective by artillery and helicopter gunships. Five Turkish soldiers died in clashes, it stated.
The statement said a group of terrorists escaped to the southern part in the clash. The operation merely targeted terrorist organization, it reiterated. "Cross-border operation that was launched by Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) against terrorist organization PKK in the north of Iraq as of 7 p.m. on February 21st, 2008 continues as it was planned," the statement said. Hideouts of terrorists were shelled by artillery and armed helicopters, it added
-- Iraq and the coalition forces based in the country said couple of hundred Turkish troops are taking part in the operation. Turkey's military has only sent several hundred troops into a remote part of northern Iraq to hunt PKK, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters on Friday. Only a "few hundred" Turkish soldiers are taking part in an operation against PKK in northern Iraq, a senior military officer with coalition forces based in Baghdad said.
-- However, Turkish General Staff denied on Friday some new reports about the objective and the scope of the ground operation launched into north of Iraq against terrorist organization as well as the number of troops took part in the operation.
General Staff said in its website that several media organs aired news and archives footage that contradicted with the scope, objective and nature of the operation, including the number of troops, and that comments were made regarding these footage. It said they gave wrong messages to Turkish people and the international community, adding that they have the risk in some cases to lead to unnecessary tensions and expectations. It stated that information --except for given by the General Staff-- should not be given credit. General Staff also noted that terrorist organization released statements full of propaganda under cover of news agency, underlining that these statements should be disregarded.
-- Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said this operation started a new phase in the efforts to isolate PKK. Erdogan repeated that the operation's sole target is PKK. "Iraqi people are not our targets" he said. Erdogan said on Friday he had spoken by telephone on Thursday night with U.S. President George W. Bush about Turkish troops' land offensive into northern Iraq.
-- Oil prices headed back towards record highs Friday with New York crude nearing 99 dollars as the market reacted to Turkeys move into northern Iraq amid persistent concerns about supply, traders said.
-- The Turkish General Staff released the photos of the operation on its official website. The photos can be viewed here. (The site is in Turkish)
Commanders in Ankara on alarm for the past 48 hours
by Metehan Demir
The historical land operation being carried out by Turkish Armed Forces into Northern Iraq is occuring with great secrecy and professional, sources said.
ANKARA - In order to ensure the success of the newly started operation, the last two days have seen a very silent and deep set of preparations.
Sources also told hurriyet.com.tr that all units in connection with the Turkish military's General Staff have been put on alarm, and that all related personnel work vacations have been cancelled for the time being.
COMMANDERS STAYED IN
In Ankara, where the General Staff headquarters of the Turkish military is based, neither General Yasar Buyukanit nor second in command, General Ergin Saygun, nor other unit commanders, have gone home in the past two days due to planning for the operation now underway. Information sharing has been limited to the principle of a "need to know" basis from the General Staff headquarters.
The land operation is being guided and run by the main coordination General Staff War Operations Center. All developments in the land invasion are being tracked on an immediate basis through video images streaming in from satellites and airplanes in the region.
(NTVMNSBC) Turkish opposition leaders back military strike into Iraq
ANKARA - The leaders of Turkey’s two largest parliamentary opposition parties have backed the military operation launched by Turkish troops into northern Iraq targeting the terrorist group the PKK.
Deniz Baykal, the leader of the centre left Republican People’s Party (CHP), said Friday that the ground attack took the fight against the PKK to a new and important stage.
It was essential that Turkey carry through with the operation and eliminate the PKK and its bases in northern Iraq, Baykal said.
“We have to conclude this operation,” he said hours after the Turkish General Staff announced it had sent troops over the border into Iraq. “We should have the responsibility to conclude the issue in a very determined and clear way.”
Once the cross border operation was completed, every effort should be made to ensure the threat posed by the PKK was removed, he said.
Devlet Bahceli, the chairman of the far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said that not only was the operation necessary but there was also the need to temporarily deploy Turkish troops inside Iraq to create a security zone in Iraq’s north.
“Although it is a belated move, this first ground operation under the rule of Justice and Development Party constitutes a very important step and it is deduced from recent statements on the issue that operation would be limited in duration and scope,” Bahceli said.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and cabinet spokesman Cemil Cecik said the Turkish army was conducting operations under severe winter conditions and was working to preserve the unity and security of the country.
“As we stated earlier, these operations target only the terrorist organization PKK and its hideouts,” he said. “We do not have any problems with civilian people living there. They are our sisters and brothers.”
(SABAH) DTP: "Return when mission is accomplished"
Erdoğan said: "we will not have a negative attitude towards Iraqi people. Turkish Armed Forces will return in a short time after reaching the target."
After Turkey's operation to Northern Iraq, the top level politicians of Turkey emphasized that the operation is against the PKK forces in the region and the local people will not be affected by the operation and added that Turkish and Kurdish people are brothers. The Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan stated that he informed the US president Bush about the land operation. Erdoğan said: "we will reach the targets in a short time and then will return immediately. The operation targets are terrorist camps. We do not have a negative attitude towards Iraqi people. I informed the US president Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. Gül spoke to Talabani."
"Stop the operation"
The only political party objecting to the land operation was DTP. Demirtaş said: "our attitude is clear, we are against operation. There are other solutions."
The only political party objecting to the land operation was DTP. Party group vice chairman Selahattin Demirtaş held a press conference and said: "our attitude is clear, we are against operation. There was a permanent solution to Kurdish issue which is dialogue." Demirtaş added: "The people attempted to show DTP as partisan of war. Turkey was dragged into a regional war; only political party objecting to this is DTP."
(Turkish Daily News)24 terrorists, 5 troops killed in clashes
ANKARA – Turkish Daily NewsThe military said at least 24 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists were killed in clashes in northern Iraq, in a statement posted to its website early Saturday. It also said five troops were killed.
It added that it believes around another 20 terrorists have been killed by artillery and helicopter fire, but said the exact toll would be determined once troops reach the targeted area.
"It has been understood from preliminary information that the terrorists have suffered heavy losses under long-range weapons fire and air strikes," it said, adding that many PKK members were also wounded in the continued fighting.
(ZAMAN) Gül invites Iraq’s Talabani to Turkey
President Abdullah Gül has extended a long-awaited invitation to his Iraqi counterpart, Jalal Talabani, to visit Turkey, the presidency announced yesterday.
A visit by Talabani, a Kurd, has long been an issue of controversy in Turkey. Former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer refused to invite him during his term in office and the military has said it would avoid talks with Iraqi Kurds, accusing them of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly said there had been talks with Talabani because he is the president of Iraq, but rejected dialogue at a senior level with Massoud Barzani, leader of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said there were still problems with Barzani since the Kurdish leader has so far not taken steps to win Turkey's trust in the fight against the PKK.
The invitation to Talabani came after the Turkish military launched a ground offensive into northern Iraq to hunt down PKK terrorists. The Presidency Press Office said Gül briefly spoke to Talabani on the phone on Thursday evening to inform the Iraqi leader about the land operation launched by the Turkish troops and to let him know that the National Security Council (MGK), which convened earlier on Thursday, had agreed to take steps to develop relations with Iraq in all areas. He also invited the Iraqi president to visit Turkey during the same conversation.
Talabani accepted Gül's invitation, an Iraqi news report said, but there was no immediate information on when the visit would take place. Talabani has said in the past that he was ready to visit Turkey as soon as he receives an invitation.
Gül's phone conversation with Talabani and the invitation appear to be aimed at containing possible damage in relations with Iraq due to the ground offensive. The MGK said in a statement after its regular meeting that cross-border operations into Iraq will continue as long they are deemed necessary, but emphasized that the top political and military officials attending the meeting also confirmed the importance Turkey attaches to Iraq's territorial integrity and political unity. The MGK said efforts to improve cooperation with Iraq in economic, commercial, cultural, military and energy fields were discussed.
Talks with Maliki
In addition to presidential talks, the prime ministers of Turkey and Iraq also spoke on the phone on Thursday evening, Turkish and Iraqi officials said.
Prime Minister Erdoğan said he informed his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, about the land offensive in their telephone conversation on Thursday. In a statement, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Maliki told Erdoğan that Iraq considered the PKK a threat to their shared border but urged dialogue to promote security.
"Maliki asked Erdoğan to respect the sovereignty of Iraq's borders and the inviolability of its lands ... and stressed the importance of avoiding a military solution," Dabbagh said. "Maliki also said the Iraqi government supports the security and stability of Turkey and considers the PKK a terrorist organization that represents a threat to Turkey and the border areas between the two countries."