Turkey, Iran and Iraq launch first joint anti-PKK operation

Turkey carried out airstrikes on PKK positions in Iraq’s Asos region. (Google Maps)
Updated 30 November 2017

Turkey, Iran and Iraq launch first joint anti-PKK operation

ANKARA: Turkish jets carried out airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in northern Iraq’s Asos region in coordination with Iraqi and Iranian intelligence on Monday, according to pro-government media reports in Turkey.

A Turkish General Staff statement said that the airstrikes with 30 fighters aircraft were launched in a region located 180 km south of the mountainous border with Turkey.

During the operation, which was supported by airborne warning and control planes, 41 targets were demolished, including tunnels and shelters used by the terror group, the statement said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's referendum on Sept. 25 on independence from Iraq united the three countries in a common perception of threat. Following the Kurdish vote, Iraqi and Turkish forces conducted joint military drills on their shared border.

Ankara is concerned that the PKK may exploit a power vacuum in northern Iraq. Sharing intelligence for cross-border operations against the outlawed PKK is especially important in winter when terrorists seek refuge in northern Iraq’s mountainous regions, rendering operations difficult and dangerous, according to experts.

“Such a first-ever trilateral intelligence sharing will contribute a lot to Turkey’s anti-PKK terror operations,” Abdullah Agar, a security expert and retired special warfare and commando officer, told Arab News. "With this operation, we have seen Turkey produce an impact in a region 180 km away from its borders thanks to cooperation with central Iraqi and Iranian authorities.”

“This cooperation in identifying the locations of PKK targets and marking their coordinates is expected to grow further in the coming period,” he said.

Agar noted that this tripartite cooperation also shows a determination by the Turkish state to achieve a military equilibrium on multi-fronts to compensate for its deteriorating relations with the US, which traditionally provided Turkey with intelligence on PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.

In a series of operations across Turkey and northern Iraq during October, 152 PKK terrorists were killed and 129 hideouts were destroyed.

Ali Semin, a Middle East expert at the Bilgesam think tank in Istanbul, told Arab News that Turkey’s latest anti-PKK operation succeeded because Iran and Iraq have been intelligence sharing.

“It was just the beginning of these three countries boosting their counterterrorism cooperation in the near future. A joint operation with aerial attacks against PKK headquarters in northern Iraq’s Qandil and Sinjar mountains may be expected in early 2018,” he said.

According to Semin, as Tehran became isolated in the region because of international sanctions, it felt obliged to form a coalition with the Turkish and Iraqi central governments to preserve its regional gains.

“The region needs a collective security cooperation to defeat separatist Kurdish rebels active in these countries,” he said.

The PKK and its Iranian offshoot, Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), have been waging an insurgency against the Turkish and Iranian states, and both countries consider Kurdish separatism a common threat.


Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

Updated 19 min 23 sec ago

Erdogan’s ‘hypocrisy’ over Israel’s land grab in Palestine

  • Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risked accusations of hypocrisy on Monday as he repeated his denunciations of Israel’s occupation and annexations in Palestine while allowing the Israeli airline El Al to resume cargo flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

The first such flight in 10 years landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment for US medical teams fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As the plane touched down, Erdogan was sending a message to US Muslims restating his support for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem and his rejection of Israeli oppression.

“Last week we witnessed that a new occupation and annexation project, which disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law, was implemented by Israel,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate that Al-Quds Al-Sharif, the holy site of three religions and our first qiblah, is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”

Israel’s new unity government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz is expected to move forward soon with plans to annex swaths of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Meanwhile, as Arab News reported this month, Turkey is in controversial talks with Israel over mutually beneficial maritime borders in the Mediterranean. Erdogan is attempting a risky political balancing act, analysts told Arab News.

“I think Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because the political benefits of blockade and isolation have weakened,” said Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical risk company Stratfor.

“But at the same time, they do want to keep some of that tradition of sympathy for Palestine alive for those remaining supporters who still prize the issue.”