The two main political factions in northern Iraq, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), have merged. This new Iraqi Kurdish government has its capital in Ibril, but is moving settlers and gunmen to Kirkuk in an effort to shift the ethnic balance of the city (which is surrounded by lucrative oil fields) to mainly Kurdish. Turkey, in particular, does not want an autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq to have its own supply of oil money.
May 10, 2006: Kurds in the mountain village of Razqa (northern Iraq) reported that Iranian artillery had opened up on their village earlier this month. The first attack was on May 1, but there was a second artillery bombardment sometime within the last week. Several houses were destroyed. Kurds make up approximately 15 percent of Iran's population. The Iranians are concerned that Kurdish guerrillas will stir trouble in Iran's Kurdish region. A Kurdish guerrilla organization PEJAK (Party of Free Life in Kurdistan) has urged Kurds in Iran to oppose the government. The PEJAK is for all practical purposes the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in Iranian Kurdistan. Meanwhile, Kurdish villagers along the Iraq-Turkey border also report more Turkish armored personnel carriers and trucks moving inside Iraq (presumably more than usual).
May 8, 2006: Iran's Supreme National council Secretary Ali Larijan accused the United States of meeting with PKK representatives in the Iraqi towns of Mosul and Kirkuk. Larijan was visiting Turkey (specifically the capital, Ankara). The Iranians offered no evidence, but insisted that the US wanted to cause trouble for Iran and support "separatist movements." Of course the Iranians by making the accusation are stirring up trouble between the US and Turkey.
Turkish sources confirmed the reported military build-up along the Turkey-Iraq border and in southeastern Turkey (the Kurdish region). Turkey now has "more than 200,000" troops and paramilitary security forces in the region. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Turkey's goal is to stop PKK rebels from using their bases in northern Iraq "to launch attacks on Turkey." Turkey usually has several thousand troops inside Iraq (figures run from 2000 to 5000) but that number has increased since the end of April.
April 30, 2006: Turkish sources said that a Turkish special forces unit of approximately 100 troops had moved eight kilometers across the Iraqi border. The unit was in "hot pursuit" of a group of PKK rebels. The Turkish report said that "infra-red cameras" had spotted the PKK rebels "near the town of Cukurca."