2011-10-27

Turkey, Iran to work together against PKK/PJAK?

Although the two countries share common ground when it comes to Kurdish extremists, policymakers see good reason to keep Tehran at a distance.

By Alakbar Raufoglu for SES Türkiye -- 27/10/11

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After a summer of nearly daily clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK, Turkey and Iran have indicated they are ready to work together in fighting the terrorist group -- and its Iranian offshoot PJAK -- in northern Iraq.

  • Iraqi Kurdish security personnel investigate a hole in a house caused by Iranian shelling near Qandil this summer. [Reuters]

    Iraqi Kurdish security personnel investigate a hole in a house caused by Iranian shelling near Qandil this summer. [Reuters]

On Friday (October 21st) Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi in Ankara, with the threat from Kurdish militants high on their agenda. But it is not yet clear what actions will be taken, and whether these will include joint co-ordinated operations.

The two countries signed a border security agreement in 1999, pledging to exchange intelligence information and co-ordinate anti-insurgent actions along the Iran-Turkey border. But Ankara continues to harbor suspicions, as Iran has covertly supported the PKK in the past. The level of actual co-operation to date has waxed and waned.

Meanwhile, analysts and policymakers debate the wisdom of bringing Tehran into Turkey's anti-terrorism strategy.

Alaettin Parmaksiz, a retired major general and author of several books on PKK operations, says the two countries have fundamental differences.

"Turkey is a NATO [member] country," he told SES Türkiye. "Our systems for fighting terrorism are different than Iran's."

Turkey operates within the rules of democracy, whereas Iran isn't bound by the same rules of engagement, Parmaksiz said. "Iran is facing political and economic isolation in the international arena, therefore they are approaching us," he added.

Similarly, Caroline Glick, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy, says that Iranian military co-operation with Turkey lends the regime credibility.

"If it is participating in joint military operations with a NATO member, that can only be beneficial for Iran's international standing," she says, while pointing out that both countries have common interests in weakening Kurdish nationalist movements.

Veteran diplomat Murat Bilman, who headed the Strategic Research Department at the Turkish Foreign Ministry for years, says Turkey has long realised that it can't finish off the rebels alone, as the PKK has close co-ordination with PJAK and other terrorist groups.

"Regional co-operation is very important," he told SES Türkiye, "The link between PJAK and the PKK should be cut."

Gerald Robbins, a Turkey analyst at the Foreign Policy Institute in Washington, DC, asks if any safeguards will be placed on intelligence sharing. Failure to do so "can be a serious concern, considering Turkey's NATO membership and Iran's belligerence towards Israel", he said.

There are also broader regional rivalries that may limit Turkish-Iranian co-operation. Although Turkey and Iran have sought to improve relations -- especially through trade -- the two countries are at odds over Iraq, Syria and the Arab Spring countries, and have different agendas towards Israel and Palestine.

Ziya Meral, a London-based Turkish analyst on the Middle East, argues that Iran and Turkey have entered a strained phase in their relationship, largely due to Turkish feelings of being let down by the Iranians on the uranium enrichment deal and Ankara's decision to allow a NATO radar system to be installed in Turkey.

"Also, Iranian and Turkish policies towards Iraq are in contention with each other, so there can't be a partnership there beyond the PKK/PJAK issue," he told SES Türkiye.

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  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    The PKK is a trick played by the EU and the USA against us. Think about it: high-level officials of the PKK live in luxury, but those children, that they call guerrillas, die of hunger. Why doesn’t anyone see this? Everyone should know that nobody can destroy us as our ancestors have repeatedly shown in the past. And we are faithful people, so they can never fool us.

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    As people from the Southeastern Anatolia, we know the inside story better than others. You are right in what you are saying. A handful of crooks are enjoying this process. The US, on the other hand, is managing the PKK through Israel and Syria. Do you think those PKK executives don’t know that this issue cannot be solved through terror? They do know. Let’s imagine Turkey is divided. Then what? Murat Karayılan (a former thief) will become the prime minister, the rapist, that is Karayılan’s henchman, will become the interior minister, and the baby killer will become the health minister? Come on! You’re an idiot if you believe all these.

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    I’m hereby calling to the Site Managers. A very nonsense term is being used in articles. You show Pkk as Kurdish militans. Pkk is not an organisation of Kurdish militans but a terrorist organisation and they have no connection with the Kurdish people. If you write down another article in favour of Kurds’ terrorist organization, site managers will be sued, for your information…

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    Corrupt soldier killers.

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    The people writing their comments here are either do not live in Turkey or did not understand the reality of the country. This problem has been continuing since the foundation of the republic. We must solve this problem with common sense, fraternally and by respecting each other.

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    Being a Kurd in the republic-era Turkey is very hard.

  • Anonymous translation missing: en_GB, datetime, distance_in_words, almost_x_years

    My animos or whatever friend, stop commenting bare nonsense, your capacity is not enough to see or understand the reality, don’t muddle the people’s brains. What are you defending, what are you accusing? You’ve turned the subject into a childish five-finger exercise, be smart a little bit…

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Happy is a man who can say I am a Kurd. Kurds, Turks, Russians, Armenians – we are all brothers and sisters in this country. I am a Kurdish person myself and I believe that this war will not end unless a Kurdish state is established. Many guerrillas from our side die martyr too, leaving thousands of mothers and fathers crying after them. We don’t want this anymore. We want our own state.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    We are all brothers and sisters.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Release Abdullah Ocalan and guerrillas. We want freedom.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Nobody can stand against the guerrillas. What you call children is a 900-guerrilla strong force. Those guerrillas, whom you call children, bump your soldiers off. Come to Qandil, Zaho, Zagros or Mahmour if you dare. Come and see how many of you can survive.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Are you an idiot? Don’t you see that the PKK is the US’ stooge? I am an Ottoman child following Ataturk’s path. I feel sorry for those kids on the mountains. They are all uneducated and brainwashed. They are being used. I’m calling out to them: Wake up and see now! Why do you let the US deceive you? This is exactly what they want. This country cannot and will not be divided. You should understand this. Turkey can wipe the PKK off the face of the earth in one week, but there are other reasons. You should understand.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    In PKK problem, I do not understand why such struggling solutions are being produced while there is an easy solution like giving the Kurdish people to their freedom..

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    KURDISH NATION has started 25 times of rebellion since these years because our justice-dependent nation has standed and will stand…

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Hypocritical Policy, You can say about what Ankara’s Politicians have done, In one side they support “Arab Spring” Under the right of every nations to get his freedom, And in second side (Exactly in Northern Kurdistan “Southestern Turkey”) They do wildly violence about Kurdish Right in the same right.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    We are all brothers and sisters. However, I also think that Kurdish rights must be recognized. Please don’t let people die anymore. It’s sad for both sides.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Please do not hesitate to send your comments relating to the news published in SES Türkiye. We hope you’ll use this forum to interact with our other readers in Southeast Europe. In order to make this experience interesting, we kindly request you to follow the rules stated in the comments policy. By sending your comments, you’ll be assumed to have accepted these rules. SES Türkiye, while promoting the discussions on all subjects including the sensitive ones as well, the comments being published here are the opinions of the senders only. SES Türkiye is not under the necessity of approve or join to the opinions, views or thoughts being put into words in these comments. SES Türkiye, while promoting the constructive discussion, supports avoiding of usage of copy-paste materials, blank links or one-line slogans. Your messages are being controlled by the Forum Moderator. Comments found exploiting, offensive or using bad language will not be published. Comments Policy of SES Türkiye.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    I am a Kurdish person too, but I am fed up with poverty and unemployment. It seems to me that we will have to take to the mountains and join this war. Because we want to like human, but nobody understands and wants to understand us. I want a country where all beings live, peace prevails and everyone can earn their living.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Kurdish problem can never and never be solved as long as mentalities that ignoring other nations, trying to root out their culture and language do exist. When the conflicts stop, Kurdish problem stops as well and no development or progress happens and they say that we finished PKK. But conflicts stop for a solution, almost reaching to a finishing point and incapable jackals disturbed by this lay an ambush and martyr the soldiers. Army says they did not do it, PKK says they did not do it, I wonder who does it? When we think, we should know that we are trapped in the game. PKK never ends. Because there is a public support of millions behind this. When foreign forces and money are involved, it inflames further. According to me, the way for solution is that we should accept each other and try to start living in brotherhood. The first step of this can be possible by closing the big economic gap between the regions and passing to an education system in mother tongue. AKP is moving towards it however but it’s steps are very slow. I hope these steps will be more comprehensive and speedy. Mothers should not cry anymore, they do not deserve crying, they should laugh. We want a country living in brotherhood.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    These lands already belong to all of us, what are you defending? You think PKK is on your side and supporting it however there are some other factors in it. Your eyes are unfortunately still closed. When will you understand that PKK is using you for baiting and PKK is being used by the some other countries for baiting?

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    Instead of fighting against each other, I would like to fight in the front line with my Kurdish brothers against the outside traitors who created this malady in our home country, caused us set by the ears, it’s a pity.

  • Anonymous over 2 years

    PKK is a terror organization and its end will be disappointment like any organization. Regarding Kurdish people, they can consider themselves that they have moved one step further only when they learn not to bother to get rights by sheltering under the activities of the organization. Other are exploiting PKK for their own benefits and PKK is exploiting Kurdish people to serve the others. The situation is so simple, fellows.

Name: Anonymous - Have your comments posted immediately!


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