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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Iraq Moving to Block Movement and Supplies of the Kurdish PKK

On the 23rd of October it was being reported that Iraqi officials were closing down the offices of the Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to stop them from operating in Iraq.

"The PKK is a terrorist organization and we have taken a decision to shut down their offices and not allow them to operate on Iraqi soil. We will also work on limiting its terrorist activities which are threatening Iraq and Turkey," a statement from Maliki's office said.

Protesters demonstrate against a possible major cross-border operation into northern Iraq by Turkey against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas, in front of the Turkish Consulate in Berlin October 27, 2007. Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops on the frontier before a possible cross-border operation against about 3,000 PKK guerrillas, who launch deadly attacks into Turkey from Iraq. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski (GERMANY)

Today we see reports of further actions that Iraq is taking to avoid a Turkish incursion of Northern Iraq.

BAGHDAD - Iraq will set up more checkpoints along its northern frontier to keep out supplies for Kurdish rebels, who have been striking the Turkish military in raids across the border, the Iraqi foreign minister said Wednesday.

Hoshyar Zebari said Iraq would set up the checkpoints along with the border with heavily Kurdish southeastern Turkey to stop fuel, food and other supplies from reaching the Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has killed dozens of people inside Turkey over the past month. He said they would also take other unspecified measures against the rebels.

Zebari, who is Kurdish, told reporters that Iraq would also restrict the movement of PKK fighters in order to "prevent them from reaching the populated towns and areas" inside Turkey.

The Iraqi official's comments came after he discussed the border issue with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Baghdad.

Turkish helicopters have begun pounding rebel hideouts in Turkey with rockets, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his nation would exhaust all diplomatic options before ordering a cross-border offensive.

Zebari warned that a Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq would have "serious consequences for the entire region and could undermine its stability."

He said Iraq was ready "to cooperate actively with the Turkish government to find practical measures" to prevent the attacks staged by Kurdish rebels from Iraqi territory.

These are the types of actions that need to be taken by Iraq to show solidarity with Turkey against the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group internationally by a number of states and organizations, including the USA, NATO and the EU.

Here is a list of who has the PKK listed as a terrorist organization:

* Austria
* Australia
* Azerbaijan
* Afghanistan
* Belgium
* Bulgaria
* Canada
* Cyprus
* Czech Republic
* Denmark
* Estonia
* Finland
* France
* Germany
* Greece
* Hungary
* Iceland
* Iraq
* Ireland
* Italy
* Kazakhstan
* Latvia
* Lithuania
* Luxembourg
* Malta
* Netherlands
* Northern Cyprus
* Norway
* Philippines
* Poland
* Portugal
* Romania
* Slovakia
* Slovenia
* Spain
* Sweden
* Syria
* Turkey
* United Kingdom
* United States

We, along with Britain has been encouraging Iraq to take tangible actions against the PKK to forestall the Turkish incursion, as evidence by a phone call that was reported by VOA between the U.S, Britain and Iraqi officials back on the 23rd of this month.

The United States and Britain made a joint call late Monday for Iraq to take immediate steps to halt cross-border attacks by Iraqi-based Kurdish PKK militants into Turkey. The issue dominated a Washington meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Rice and her British counterpart are welcoming statements by the Iraqi government condemning the attacks by the PKK.

But they say it is time for the government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional authorities in northern Iraq to take tangible action to halt the PKK operations, which have raised the specter of large-scale Turkish military intervention in Iraq.

The joint appeal by Rice and Miliband capped a day of intensive diplomatic activity on the Iraq-Turkey crisis that included a telephone call by President Bush to Turkish President Abdullah Gul stressing the U.S. commitment to work with Turkey and Iraq to combat PKK attacks.

The PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, has long been listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. It has been fighting the Turkish government for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey for more than 20 years and has recently stepped up hit-and-run attacks against Turkish forces and civilians from mountain hideouts in northern Iraq.

Iraq has maintained that PKK militants are operating out of rugged border areas beyond the reach of its security forces, while Turkey alleges that Iraqi Kurdish authorities have turned a blind eye to PKK activities. At a joint press appearance with Rice, Foreign Secretary Miliband said Iraq's stated promises to deal with the PKK are no longer enough:

"Words are not going to be sufficient," said David Miliband. "There needs to be real deeds. The hurt and anguish of the Turkish people is real and evident to anyone who looks at the situation."

Miliband said Iraqi action is essential if the Turkish government is to be able to resist public pressure to intervene in Iraq, action that U.S. officials say could shatter the relative peace of northern Iraq and have broader security and political consequences.

This is a developing story....