Friday, November 02, 2007

The Kurds learn what happens when you cross the U.S.


Here's the cause and effect, presented in reverse order, of what happens to a people when they get in between us and our oil. If you don't line up and start whistling dixie you'll be threatened with violence and worse (remember, Bush offered to bomb the Kurds on Turkey's behalf). If the PKK's strikes against Turkey can't be justified, which I contend they cannot, then how is it Turkey's aggression -- a country that, with Clinton's support, ethnically cleansed the Kurds throughout the '90s -- can claim the moral high road? It certainly helps that the PKK is a pack of godless socialists, our traditional enemy. It sure feels good to be slaughtering those pinko commies again.

Rice brands PKK 'common enemy'

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, has said Washington views Kurdish fighters who have launched attacks on Turkey from Iraq as a "common enemy".

Rice, on a visit to Turkey, said at a press conference on Friday that Washington and Ankara needed to show "commitment and persistence" against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ali Babacan, Turkey's foreign minister, said in the same press conference that Rice's visit to Turkey marked the start of closer co-operation between the Nato allies against the PKK.

Rice said that Washington and Ankara were working together on intelligence sharing to combat the separatist group.

Rice will later attend wider talks in Istanbul to discuss Ankara's strategy against the PKK, who have launched attacks against Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.

Iraqi officials are also attending the Istanbul conference, which was originally meant to focus on Iraq's long-term stability.

The meeting comes amid concerns that Turkey may launch cross-border raids against fighters from the PKK.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, is also attending the talks.

'Common enemy'

Turkey has accused the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq of harbouring PKK fighters.

The separatist group is said to use bases in the mountainous region for cross-border attacks as part of its 23-year campaign for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Rice told reporters earlier en route to Turkey: "We have certainly been concerned that anything that would destabilise the north of Iraq is not going to be in Turkey's interests, it is not going to be in our interests and it is not going to be in the Iraqis' interests. That's been the reason for urging restraint.

"But we understand the need to do something effective against this PKK threat ... The PKK is an enemy of the United States just like it is an enemy of the Turks."

'Low expectations'

Rice held talks with Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, shortly after arriving in the country and will later meet Abdullah Gul, the president.

Erdogan is due to meet George Bush, the US president, in Washington next week to discuss how to tackle the PKK.

Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Istanbul, said the Turkish public's expectations over Rice's visit were low.

"Nothing really concrete [was set out], and I think from the Turkish public opinion point of view it will be quite disappointing," she reported after the press conference.

"Saying that the US was going to double efforts to share intelligence is not going to be satisfactory [to the Turkish public]," she said.

"I think the key sentence in the press conference came from Babacan when he said he expected the US to take 'concrete steps'. At the moment we are not hearing about any concrete steps."

Troops amassed

Both Baghdad and Washington strongly oppose any unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq on the grounds that it would destabilise the only relatively calm region of the war-torn country.

Turkey has reportedly massed up to 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq and has threatened a military incursion to strike at PKK bases unless Baghdad and Washington promise to crack down on the fighters.

The White House has offered Ankara "actionable intelligence" on the PKK.

"We have no time to lose. All instruments – diplomatic, political, socio-cultural and military - are on the table," Babacan said.

He also said that Turkey may restrict flights to northern Iraq.

Turkish troops have been engaged in major operations targeting the PKK since October 21 when a group of fighters, who Ankara says came from northern Iraq, ambushed a military unit, killing 12 soldiers and capturing eight.

The army says it has since killed 80 fighters on Turkish territory.

A top PKK commander on Thursday called on Ankara to present a peace plan that could end the group's rebellion, which has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

Turkey refuses to have any contact with or make any concessions to the PKK.

Iraqi Kurds sign four oil deals
By Mark Gregory
BBC News

The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq has announced four new oil exploration deals with international energy companies.

The news is likely to upset the central government in Baghdad and the US.

Both have been pressing the Kurds to hold off negotiations until national oil and gas laws for opening up Iraq's energy wealth are in place.

Development of Iraq's oil reserves has been held up by disagreements between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities.

These laws will set the framework for investment by foreign energy firms and for dividing oil revenues between the communities.

But increasingly the semi-autonomous Kurdish area has signalled that it will go it alone without waiting for a national consensus.


In the latest move, the Kurdish authorities have announced four exploration contracts and two refinery deals, worth around $800m (£400m), giving rights to look for oil under Kurdish territory.

French and Canadian companies are involved along with other foreign investors that have not yet been named.

There has been no official reaction from either Baghdad or Washington but neither will be pleased.

A few weeks ago the Kurdish government signed agreed its first ever exploration deal with a foreign oil firm, Hunt Oil from Texas.

The Iraqi national oil minister in Baghdad described this deal as illegal.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration sees a national accord on energy policy as central to healing Iraq's wounds and creating the conditions for prosperity.

The Kurdish authorities insist their energy deals comply with the expected terms for national laws.

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