Turkey demands key role in efforts to resolve israel-lebanon conflict

Turkey’s prime minister tayyip erdogan offered himself as a troubleshooter yesterday at the lebanon conference in rome. He has good relations with israel and other arab states, as well as a large army with a lot of practical war experience. As a "un peace angel," erdogan was able to kill several birds with one stone: he strengthened his reputation at home and his basis for negotiations with the eu, and at the same time put prere on the united states to help him with his way of "solving the kurdish question.

Erdogan has been prime minister of turkey since march 2003. A devout muslim, erdogan comes from a poor background, which is why he knows how to speak the language of the "common man in the street". He made crude promises to the war-weary and economically recession-stricken population. At the beginning, it looked as if he was going to redeem it: the economic situation seemed to stabilize and a few concessions to the kurds were also conceded, raising hopes that this source of conflict could also be eliminated.

But this was only a short phase, in the meantime the economy is on a dizzying downward slide, the exchange rate is totally in the basement, the parliament just passed with the anti-terror law the most restrictive piece of legislation in the history of turkey, which is highly controversial among all social classes, the negotiations about the admission of turkey to the eu failed again, the fights with the pkk flared up again and currently the turkish army is preparing a rough invasion in the kurdish areas in northern iraq. Ostensibly to liquidate the pkk once and for all, but incidentally it is also about oil: there are huge deposits of the "black gold" in the kurdish region of kirkuk.

The image of erdogan, who likes to see himself as the representative of the common people, is more than tarnished and the iraq invasion is a tricky ie in which the turkish interests collide with those of the usa.

For days, the turkish media have been making propaganda for a un peacekeeping force under turkish leadership. Erdogan, who at the same time is calling for active nato involvement against the pkk in northern iraq, has a lot to put on the line for this: turkey is the only muslim-majority member state of nato, the government in ankara has good contacts with israel, syria and iran, and a large army with battle-hardened soldiers. In the past, the turkish army has led the so-called peacekeeping forces in afghanistan and participated in operations in bosnia, kosovo and somalia.

For 20 years the turkish army has been fighting the kurdish guerrillas

But it was not only abroad that the turkish army was able to gain practical experience: for more than 20 years, the world’s second-largest nato army has been trying to fight the kurdish guerrillas pkk – by the way, still and repeatedly with german weapons, tanks and other war equipment. The flagship of the turkish navy, the frigate "salih reis", was built in hamburg at the blohm und voss shipyard and was one of the most modern warships in the world – and one of the most expensive – when it was handed over at the end of 1998. But that did not interest the turkish government at the time, because the deal was handled by hermes kreditanstalt. The "salih reis" will not be deployed in kurdistan for lack of opportunity, but it could prove extremely useful with the un peacekeeping force.

On 14. In august 1984, the pkk started the armed resistance against the turkish occupation. Turkey struck back with merciless harshness – and with the usa and europe behind it: tens of thousands of people lost their lives, hundreds of kurdish villages were destroyed, the vegetation in the kurdish mountains was irretrievably destroyed, millions of kurds were forced to flee. There is only one thing that the turkish army has not succeeded in doing in more than 20 years and despite the financial and military support of the usa, frg and other nato countries: to destroy the pkk.

The kurdistan labor party (partiye kerkeren kurdistâne – pkk) wanted to lay down its arms voluntarily. Three times in the past, most recently their leader abdullah ocalan called for the world peace day, 1. September, 1998 an indefinite unilateral cease-fire. But instead of accepting this offer, turkey put syria under military prere. Near the syrian capital damascus, the pkk had its headquarters at that time. Because the turkish military literally brought heavy artillery to the syrian border, syria caved in and ocalan had to leave the country. The kurdish leader disappeared for days, appeared in italy to "put the kurdish question on the european agenda," as he said at the time, but had to leave italy again, disappeared in russia with shirinovksi, then suddenly reappeared in athens. But he also had to leave greece and was flown out to the greek embassy in nairobi/kenya. There he was arrested by the turkish secret service, presumably with the support of the american cia and the israeli mossad. So much for good relations with israel.

Ocalan was sentenced to death, but the sentence was not carried out. Since then, he has been the only prisoner on the prison island of imrali in the mediterranean sea, and for the last two years or so, fighting between the pkk and the turkish army has flared up again – although the turkish army has never stopped its attacks. The border with iraq has been crossed several times in the past. However, saddam hussein’s government obviously did not bother, so that there were no international sanctions against turkey. Because: "where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge," commented norman paech, a hamburg-based volkerrechtist and current member of the bundestag for the left party, on the tolerance of the "international community of values" towards turkey’s military operations in iraq.

Iraq as a problem area

But the cards were reshuffled, and political friendships could quickly turn into enmities, which turkey could not afford. On the one hand, the transatlantic nato partner, the united states, has suddenly become a direct neighbor and will vigorously defend its interests in iraq. And these interests also include the oil of kirkuk. And the usa has little interest to come to terms with the turks besides talibani and barzani. Kirkuk is on kurdish territory. The kurdish parties in northern iraq, patriotic union of kurdistan (puk) and kurdish democratic party (kdp) are among the closest allies of the usa in iraq, puk leader celal talabani has been iraqi president since 2005. With him, there will certainly be gentlemen agreements that neither the u.S. Nor iraqi kurds want turkey to disrupt this truce.

Talabani and kdp leader med barzani, both actually tribal forts rather than party leaders, once fought against each other by choice, but also in alliance with turkey against the pkk. However, friendship stops at money or ol, as is well known, which is why talabani and barzani have vigorously forbidden any military operation by turkey in northern iraq. This is exactly how dismissive the u.S. Has been so far of erdogan’s threat to invade northern iraq. Regardless of this, turkey is bringing the troops into position: according to turkic media, 200.000 soldiers will be stationed on the border with iraq, 40.000 are to invade iraq, 40 generals are to lead the operation.

By leading the un peacekeeping mission, erdogan has strengthened his negotiating position on iraq. With so much active and planned military action, it is no wonder that "the alienation of the people from the military" is a major concern in ankara. The practice of this "alienation" is considered treason, a crime punishable by heavy prison sentences under the recently enacted anti-terror law. Under the new law, conscientious objectors are considered terrorists and will be punished severely.

While erdogan is still threatening to attack pkk positions in northern iraq, they are already being massively bombed by the iranian army. So much for "good relations with iran". However, the world gets nothing of it, because hardly about it is reported. The iranian press keeps quiet about this for good reason, and kurdish media have enormous difficulty reporting from the war zone. Recently, kurdish journalist silan aras was killed in one of these iranian bombings.

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