Kurdish War: Dead Before the Snows Fall


November 4, 2007: While many Iraqi officials openly claim that Iraq does not have the police or military capability to shut down the PKK, the government has ordered checkpoints on roads used by the PKK (to halt supplies headed for PKK camps) and shutting down PKK offices in northern Iraq. But the Iraqis (Arab and Kurd) have refused to launch a military offensive against the PKK. Thus, while Turkey appreciated the Iraqi efforts, it is still possible that Turkish troops will move into northern Iraq in the next few weeks. This would catch some PKK fighters, and their camps would be destroyed. But most of the PKK would disperse among the civilian population, and continue their attacks on Turkey. The Turks would be back in the Spring, having established their right to operate in northern Iraq. The Iraqi Kurdish government would have to tolerate Turkish troops operating in their territory, or face widespread destruction if the Iraqi Kurdish troops attacked the Turks.

November 3, 2007: If Turkey is going to launch a major anti-PKK offensive into Iraq, it has to do so in the next month. Why? It's a one word answer: weather. The Kandil Mountains, where the PKK has its Iraq bases, are tough terrain under any circumstances, but when snow hits, the area becomes nearly impenetrable. Certainly special operations forces can maintain surveillance in these conditions, and launch raids, but it is hard for a conventional force to push into the area on the ground. Airmobile forces are useful but when bad weather sets in the helicopter may be grounded and the airmobile infantry force is cut off from supply and support.

October 31, 2007: The government of Iraq said that it is establishing "more check points" in Kurdistan to try to isolate the PKK's bases in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq. The Iraqi government said the checkpoints will restrict the movement of PKK fighters. The Iraqis are increasing the checkpoints in an attempt to show the Turkish government that they are fulfilling their commitment to "act" against the PKK.

October 30, 2007: The Turkish military said that its forces had killed 15 PKK rebels in firefights on October 29 and 30. Three Turkish soldiers died in the clashes. The firefights took place along the Turkey-Iraq border.

October 28, 2007: The PKK said that it buys US weapons on the arms market, and does not receives any weapons from the US. This was in response to Turkish complaints that American weapons have turned up in PKK arsenals.

October 27, 2007: Iraq and Turkey are reportedly discussing "non-military options" for dealing with the PKK. One of the options is Iraqi interdiction of PKK supply lines in Iraq. An Iraqi spokesman confirmed that Iraq is interested in "practical steps and measures" that will "disrupt" the PKK.

October 25, 2007: Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his government would decide if and when its forces entered Iraq to strike at PKK rebels and PKK bases. The statement was directed at US diplomats, who have been urging Turkey to "refrain" from launching an attack into Iraqi territory.

The Turkish government said that its troops had engaged a PKK force along the Iraq-Turkey border in Semdinli province. The government claimed that at least 30 PKK rebels died in the firefight.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders said that there "is no military solution" to Turkey's struggle with the PKK.


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