by Gene Rossides
August 22, 2006
The August 2006 issue of Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, the Journal of the International Strategic Studies Association, details Turkey’s aggression plans for operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, and in the Aegean.
The distinguished editor-in-chief of the journal is Gregory R. Copley who has participated in several American Hellenic Institute conferences. Mr. Copley is also the editor of the 16th edition of Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook, which is more comprehensive than the CIA’s World Factbook. It has 2,343 pages and sells for $397.
It is an indispensable source for foreign affairs and defense specialists in the 246 countries it covers.
The article on Turkey in the August 2006 issue is a Staff Report which means it has been reviewed and edited by several key persons at the journal. It strongly reinforces the view of the American Hellenic Institute expressed in the 2006 Greek American Policy Statements that a fundamental reexamination of U.S.-Turkey policy is needed in the interests of the U.S. The 2006 Policy Statements have been endorsed by AHEPA, The Hellenic American National Council and the other leading membership organizations.
The article points out that The Turkish Army and the Turkish jandarma (paramilitary police) have some 260,000 to 265,000 forces already stationed in southeastern Turkey, ready to move in strength into Kurdistan if necessary.
The article states that Turkey’s armed forces are concerned that Iran might try
to move quickly through Iranian Kurdistan to control the oilfields of Iraqi Kurdistan.
It adds that Turkish Special Forces units are working within the area arming and supporting Turcomen Iraqis in preparation for what they believe could be imminent Iranian attempts to destabilize and control the region.
Since March 2006, the Turkish Army has conducted 53 operations into Iraqi Kurdistan, ostensibly against bases and assets of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), but in reality much of the activity has also been used to build a network of capabilities based on the Turcomen of the region. Significantly, one of the Turkish operations against the PKK was conducted with Iranian forces, and the Iranians have themselves conducted eight operations against the PKK since March 2006.
The article then details actions by PKK forces and Turkish forces including the use of chemical weapons by Turkish forces as follows:
The PKK responded with 69 operations against Turkish targets, and during the ongoing operations from March 2006 until the end of July 2006, the Turkish forces suffered 165 casualties, including 144 soldiers, seven junior Army officers, and a lieutenant-colonel. As well, 36 Iranian troops were killed during the period, and 43 PKK combatants were known casualties.
It was reported by highly-reliable first-hand sources that Turkish forces, using chemical weapons, killed 14 Kurds on March 25, 2006. Documentary evidence has been seen by Defense & Foreign Affairs on issues relating to Turkish infrastructure of chemical and biological weapons, as well as a 1986 written order by a Turkish general authorizing use of chemical weapons against Kurds.
The article points out that a command center for the invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan was built in the mountain area of Gabar in the Simak region in the past several months. The Commander of the Turkish Forces, General Yasar Buyukanit was in charge until July 31, 2006 when he was named Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces.
The article characterizes Gen. Buyukanit as a tough commander and a committed anti-Kurd, who is known to be unimpressed by plans spearheaded largely by the Turkish commercial sector and some politicians for Turkey to enter the European Union (EU). It was felt that he would be more ameneable than Gen, Ozkok had been to ending the EU negotiating process by taking decisive action to achieve Turkish strategic objectives in its immediate neighborhood, particularly in Iraqi Kurdish areas and in the Aegean Sea.
It should be noted that former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, during an appearance on the Charlie Rose TV program on August 14, 2006, sounded the alarm regarding Turkish plans to invade Iraqi Kurdistan and called for the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraqi Kurdistan between the 260,000 Turkish troops on the Turkey – Iraqi border and the Iraqi Kurd forces.
Ominously the article states:
There is some suggestion that the whole period of conflict in the region not just the ongoing war in Iraq and the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, but also the Iranian-sponsored conflict against Israel would provide extensive cover and rationale for Turkey to widen its military operations to consolidate its position in Cyprus and certainly to attempt to create a de facto end to Greek control of much of the Aegean Sea.
The article concludes: [T]he Turkish General Staff appears to believe that the end game with regard to the EU negotiating process is at hand, and with it an end to the need for constraint on the question of territorial claims in the Aegean and with regards to Cyprus.
What should the U.S. do now to forestall possible action by Turkey in Iraq and elsewere? The events of the last few month should be a wake-up call for the U.S. government and the Greek American community that aggression by Turkey in northern Iraq and in the Aegean Sea and further aggression in Cyprus is possible.
The U.S. should promptly take the following actions:
1. inform Turkey that any invasion of northern Iraq is unacceptable and would be resisted by the U.S.;
2. follow Holbrooke’s suggestion and put U.S. troops in northern Iraq between the Turkish forces on the Turkish -Iraq border and Iraq -Kurd forces actions speak louder than words in dealing with Turkey;
3. publicly state that the maritime boundary in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey is long-settled by treaties the Lausanne Treaty of 1923; the Italy -Turkey Convention of January 4, 1932; the Italy-Turkey Protocol of December 28, 1932 and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty. The U.S. is a signatory of the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty and is obligated by U.S. law to carry out its provisions. The State Department has refused to declare publicly what the law is and should do so now.
4. publicly inform Turkey to remove promptly its 40,000 armed forces and
equipment from Cyprus. Such a statement would put the public spotlight on those troops and help prevent any aggressive action by the Turkish general staff;
5. publicly call for the prompt return to Turkey of the 120,000 illegal Turkish
colonists/settlers from Anatolia illegally in Cyprus in violation of the Geneva
Convention of 1949;
6. publicly call for the tearing down of Turkey’s barbed wire fence across the face
of Cyprus. The several openings in the fence have led to 10 million crossings in
over 2 years without serious incident and have demonstrated that Greek and
Turkish Cypriots can live and work together peacefully as they have done in the
past before the Turkish government instituted a program of apartheid;
7. state publicly that the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is caused by the Turkish government by having 40,000 armed troops in Cyprus illegally occupying 37.3% of Cyprus, and the Turkish barbed wire fence. Remove the Turkish troops and the barbed wire fence and the alleged isolation of the Turkish Cypriots would vanish;
8. Oppose any Turkish troops as part of an international security force between Lebanon and Israel as provocative and harmful to efforts to bring peace between Lebanon and Israel.
Call and write to President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, your two senators and your representative and urge them to take the above action in the interests of the U.S.
Gene Rossides is President
of the American Hellenic Institute
and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury