Assume the Position

Saturday, March 01, 2003
Between Iraq And A Hard Place. Glenn Reynolds sees Turkey's failure to allow US forces to deploy from Turkey as good news for an independent Kurdistan. I don't, I see it as bad news for the Kurds. A US attack from the north and south will pin Hussein's forces in place in central Iraq. Without the option of deploying from Turkey, a US attack solely from the south will pin the Kurds between retreating Iraqi forces and the Turks—not a good place to be.

Additionally, any presence of US reserve forces in northern Iraq would tend to moderate the actions of Turkish forces. For example, Turkey would not be able to extend their buffer forces below US staging areas; without a US presence, the Turks would have free rein to move as far south as they wish.

Right now, the situation for the Kurds depends on whether Iraqi Kurdistan becomes a battlefield or not; the status of post-Hussein Iraqi Kurdistan (independent, semi-autonomous within an Iraq republic, or other) is a side issue that can be hashed out later.

UPDATE: Also, right now, it seems Ansar Al-Islam is attacking the PUK in Khormal.

While the PUK was preparing for the US attack on Iraq and at the same time engaged in the Iraqi Opposition meeting, the fundamentalist Islamic group Ansar Al-Islam launched an attacked [sic] against the PUK forces in the town of Khormal outside Sulemani, a PUK stronghold.

Khormal has been a battle ground for different Islamic fundamentalist groups, including Ansar Al-Islam and the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, leading to the depolutation of the area. The displaced people have settled in the nearby villages and towns an Sulemani.

Early this morning some of the remaining people fled the town fearing their lives because of the fighting between the PUK forces and Ansar Al-Islam.

The KDP/PUK government has got enough trouble without needing to face an unchecked Iraqi army fleeing northward from central Iraq.

UPDATE 2 - March 3, 2002: Thanks Professor, the weekend Instalanche™ from the mention in this post was a nice surprise, even if I was offline and missed it. I would have put out the welcome mat sooner, but, better late than never…

Welcome, InstaPundit readers. You are invited to wander through the archives, however, the specific posts on some facets of the Iraqi Kurdistan issue are "Fantasy Countries and Assumed Homogeneity" on this page and "Kurds is Kurds" from August 2002 (you may have to scroll way down if the internal anchor doesn't jump to the post). A January post that may explain my being "less optimistic" in general about the potential of some democratic movements is "There Are No 'Good Guys'" (a title that's actually a bit too pessimistic).

Friday, February 28, 2003
The US Is/Is Not A Party To The Geneva Conventions. Right!

Whenever war becomes more imminent, you start running across seemingly contradictory assertions regarding the status of the US under the Geneva Conventions. The reason both assertions are right (or wrong), is because The Geneva Conventions™ are not a single document or treaty. The historical "Laws of War" may be generally considered to consist of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, with the earliest Geneva Convention being the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded on the Field of Battle, signed in Geneva on August 22, 1864, which is also known as the Red Cross Convention.

The major Hague conferences were held in 1899 and 1907, action moved to Geneva in 1928 ((Chemical and Biological Weapons) and 1929 (Treatment of POWs). In the aftermath of WWII, a major rewrite resulted in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; and additional protocols have been adopted since then. Since "war" is traditionally conducted between nations, the term "armed conflict" is now used, instead; and describes both warfare conducted between nations and within nations (civil wars, insurgencies, etc.).

This is where the major Geneva Conventions stand today, and the source of the contradiction/confusion about the United States status:

  • Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
  • Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
  • Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
  • Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977
  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977.
The United States ratified (with reservations), and is bound by, the 1949 Geneva Conventions; the United States has NOT ratified, and is NOT bound by, the 1977 additional protocols. (Ratifications)

As many people became aware of because the Global Warming Treaty, there is little meaning to signatures on the conference document or during the limited open sign-up period. States become bound by ratification, accession or succession. (The following come from the International Committee of the Red Cross commentary on Protocol I, 1977, footnotes and citations have been removed.)

Signature does not definitively bind States to the Protocol; this is achieved by ratification and accession dealt with in Articles 93 '(Ratification)' and 94 ' (Accession)'. By signing the Protocol, States undertake to seriously consider the possibility of ratifying it; they are not obliged to proceed to ratification if they come across major obstacles in the interim.

Ratification is the act by which a State Party to the Conventions, which is a signatory to the Protocol, binds itself definitively to this instrument so that it applies to its relations with the other Contracting Parties. If the State concerned wishes to do so, these two steps can be replaced by the single act of accession.

Moreover, there is the possibility of "notification of succession"; by means of such notification a newly independent State continues its participation to a treaty established on his behalf, before it became independent, by the former administering power.

Accession gives the Parties to the Conventions the possibility to bind themselves in a single act instead of doing so by the two-stage process of signature followed by ratification, as laid down in Articles 92 '(Signature)' and 93 '(Ratification).' It remains the only possible way for States which are not signatories, as the Protocol has no longer been open for signature since 13 December 1978.

Additionally, a country may become party to a treaty with "reservations" and/or "declarations" which detail the interpretation it has for specific articles or may even declare itself exempt from certian articles. For instance, Protocol I entered into force in 1978, the United Kingdom did not ratify (bind itself to the protocol) for some twenty years (1998), and its accession contains numerous reservations and declarations, including:
(a) It continues to be the understanding of the United Kingdom that the rules introduced by the Protocol apply exclusively to conventional weapons without prejudice to any other rules of international law applicable to other types of weapons. In particular, the rules so introduced do not have any effect on and do not regulate or prohibit the use of nuclear weapons.

(b) The United Kingdom understands the term "feasible" as used in the Protocol to mean that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.

(d) Re: ARTICLE 1, paragraph 4 and ARTICLE 96, paragraph 3

It is the understanding of the United Kingdom that the term "armed conflict" of itself and in its context denotes a situation of a kind which is not constituted by the commission of ordinary crimes including acts of terrorism whether concerted or in isolation.

The United Kingdom will not, in relation to any situation in which it is itself involved, consider itself bound in consequence of any declaration purporting to be made under paragraph 3 of Article 96 unless the United Kingdom shall have expressly recognised that it has been made by a body which is genuinely an authority representing a people engaged in an armed conflict of the type to which Article 1, paragraph 4, applies.

(g) Re ARTICLE 44, paragraph 3
It is the understanding of the United Kingdom that:

- the situation in the second sentence of paragraph 3 can only exist in occupied territory or in armed conflicts covered by paragraph 4 of Article 1;

- "deployment" in paragraph 3(b) means any movement towards a place from which an attack is to be launched.

(i) Re: ARTICLE 51 and ARTICLE 57
In the view of the United Kingdom, the military advantage anticipated from an attack is intended to refer to the advantage anticipated from the attack considered as a whole and not only from isolated or particular parts of the attack.
(j) Re: ARTICLE 52 It is the understanding of the United Kingdom that:
- a specific area of land may be a military objective if, because of its location or other reasons specified in this Article, its total or partial destruction, capture or neutralisation in the circumstances ruling at the time offers definite military advantage;

- the first sentence of paragraph 2 prohibits only such attacks as may be directed against non-military objectives; it does not deal with the question of collateral damage resulting from attacks directed against military objectives.

(k) Re: ARTICLE 53
The United Kingdom declares that if the objects protected by this Article are unlawfully used for military purposes they will thereby lose protection from attacks directed against such unlawful military uses.
(l) Re: ARTICLE 54, paragraph 2
The United Kingdom understands that paragraph 2 has no application to attacks that are carried out for a specific purpose other than denying sustenance to the civilian population or the adverse party.
(m) Re: ARTICLE 51 - 55
The obligations of Articles 51 and 55 are accepted on the basis that any adverse party against which the United Kingdom might be engaged will itself scrupulously observe those obligations. If an adverse party makes serious and deliberate attacks, in violation of Article 51 or Article 52 against the civilian population or civilians or against civilian objects, or, in violation of Articles 53, 54 and 55, on objects or items protected by those Articles, the United Kingdom will regard itself as entitled to take measures otherwise prohibited by the Articles in question to the extent that it considers such measures necessary for the sole purpose of compelling the adverse party to cease committing violations under those Articles, but only after formal warning to the adverse party requiring cessation of the violations has been disregarded and then only after a decision taken at the highest level of government. Any measures thus taken by the United Kingdom will not be disproportionate to the violations giving rise there to and will not involve any action prohibited by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 nor will such measures be continued after the violations have ceased. The United Kingdom will notify the Protecting Powers of any such formal warning given to an adverse party, and if that warning has been disregarded, of any measures taken as a result.
(n) Re: ARTICLE 56 and 85, paragraph 3c
The United Kingdom cannot undertake to grant absolute protection to installations which may contribute to the opposing Party's war effort, or to the defenders of such installations, but will take all due precautions in military operations at or near the installations referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 56 in the light of the known facts, including any special marking which the installation may carry, to avoid sever collateral losses among the civilian populations; direct attacks on such installations will be launched only on authorisation at a high level of command.
The UK's reservations and declarations essentially place their obligations at the level of the 1949 conventions; in other words, they might as well never have become a party to the protocol—the way they have done so is simply for public relations, to be able to say they are a party without it having any effect. The US hasn't been playing that game, and takes the more straightforward route of refusing to join.

Thursday, February 27, 2003
Fantasy Countries and Assumed Homogeneity. Jim Henley has a series of posts he's collectively calling "The War of the Kurdish Suppression." (Going backwards from here, then down, down, down, down, and there's probably a few more that I've missed.)

Before I turn to Kurdistan, here are a few rhetorical questions about another fantasy country: Aztlan.

What would you propose be done if the MEChAnistas take up arms to liberate Aztlan? Would you be outraged over the "War of Chicano Suppression" if the US refused to simply turn over the entire southwest to Marxists demanding self-determination and autonomy based on their ethnic heritage? If the MEChA fighters were forced out of the US and started staging terrorist attacks from northern Mexico against San Diego and El Paso, would you condemn US raids against their bases even if the US had the permission of the Mexican government? What if the MEChA "freedom fighters" were being supported by the Mexican government, or had taken over Mexico making it South Aztlan and were still trying to "liberate" North Aztlan (California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, etc.)?

Now consider the equally mythical Kurdistan: West Kurdistan is Northeastern Syria, East Kurdistan is Northwestern Iran, South Kurdistan is the northern third of Iraq and some more of Iran, and North Kurdistan is eastern third of Turkey and a bit of Armenia. That's the way the Kurds historically define it, and the Turkish portion is what the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) wanted to take.

I'd previously addressed the "Kurds is Kurds" assumption as it related to another misconception ('our supposed friends, the Kurds, are harboring Ansar Al-Islam, another bunch of Al Qaeda supporting terrorists'), but that same assumption makes it easy to believe that any action taken against any other specific group of Kurds constitutes action against all Kurds. When it came to Afghanistan, there weren't many people in the US who thought attacking the Taliban equalled attacking all Afghans, few proposed an "Afghans is Afghans" rational any time the US killed some of the wrong Afghans. That there could be wrong Afghans to kill meant that most everybody grasped that Afghans were not a homogeneous group and some were valid targets (the Taliban) and some weren't (Northern Alliance/United Front, etc.) But when it comes to Kurds, such distinctions seem to get missed.

Unlike the MEChAnistas, who are still mostly stuck in the campus rhetoric stage, the PKK have been real terrorists for years. The Federation of American Scientists, always sympathetic to an oppressed minority, take most of their entry from the US State Department's "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 Report," but begin with a brief mention of the Kurds' grievances against Turkey:

Geography, politics and history have conspired to render 30 million Kurds the largest stateless people in the Middle East. The Government of Turkey has long denied the Kurdish population, located largely in the southeast, basic political, cultural, and linguistic rights. As part of its fight against the PKK, the Government forcibly displaced noncombatants, failed to resolve extrajudicial killings, tortured civilians, and abridged freedom of expression. The PKK committed widespread abuses, including the frequent murder of noncombatants, as part of its terrorism against the Government and civilians, mostly Kurds. Estimates of the total number of villagers forcibly evacuated from their homes since the conflict began vary widely from 330,000 to 2 million. A credible estimate given by a former Member of Parliament from the region is around 560,000.

Founded in 1974 as a Marxist-Leninist insurgent group primarily composed of Turkish Kurds. The group's goal has been to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, where the population is predominantly Kurdish. In the early 1990s, the PKK moved beyond rural-based insurgent activities to include urban terrorism. Turkish authorities captured Chairman Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya in early 1999; the Turkish State Security Court subsequently sentenced him to death. In August 1999, Ocalan announced a "peace initiative," ordering members to refrain from violence and requesting dialogue with Ankara on Kurdish issues. At a PKK Congress in January 2000, members supported Ocalan's initiative and claimed the group now would use only political means to achieve its new goal, improved rights for Kurds in Turkey.

Since 1984 the separatist PKK has waged a violent terrorist insurgency in southeast Turkey, directed against both security forces and civilians, almost all of them Kurds, whom the PKK accuses of cooperating with the State. The government of Turkey has in turn waged an intense campaign to suppress PKK terrorism, targeting active PKK units as well as persons they believe support or sympathize with the PKK. In the process, both government forces and PKK terrorists have committed human rights abuses against each other and noncombatants. According to the Government, from 1984 through November 1997, 26,532 PKK members, 5,185 security force members, and 5,209 civilians lost their lives in the fighting. A state of emergency, declared in 1987, continues in six southeastern provinces facing substantial PKK terrorist violence. Parliament voted in October to lift the state of emergency in Bingol, Batman, and Bitlis provinces. A regional governor for the state of emergency has authority over the ordinary governors in the six provinces, and six adjacent ones, for security matters. The state of emergency allows him to exercise certain quasi-martial law powers, including restrictions on the press and removal from the area of persons whose activities are deemed detrimental to public order. The state of emergency decree was renewed for 4 months for all provinces in November.

Primary PKK targets are Turkish Government security forces in Turkey but also has been active in Western Europe against Turkish targets. Conducted attacks on Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in dozens of West European cities in 1993 and again in spring 1995. In an attempt to damage Turkey's tourist industry, the PKK has bombed tourist sites and hotels and kidnapped foreign tourists. The PKK committed numerous abuses against civilians in northern Iraq throughout 1997. For example, on August 4, five persons were reportedly kidnaped from the village of Gunda Jour by a PKK band. Iraqi Kurds reported that on October 23, a PKK unit killed 14 civilians (10 of them children) and wounded 9 others in attacks on the villages of Korka, Chema, Dizo, and Selki. On December 13, seven Assyrian civilians reportedly were ambushed and killed near the village of Mangeesh. Many villagers in Dohuk and Irbil provinces, particularly those from isolated areas, were reported to have abandoned their homes and temporarily relocated to cities and lager towns to escape PKK attacks.

Approximately 4,000 to 5,000, most of whom currently are located in northern Iraq. Has thousands of sympathizers in Turkey and Europe.

The description of the PKK as "Marxist-Leninist" is a bit prosaic and understated, here's a description written by Michael Radu, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, after Ocalan was arrested by the Italian police in November 1998.

Born in 1948 in a village in Eastern Turkey, Ocalan studied political science at Ankara University, where he became a Maoist. By 1973 he had organized a Maoist group - which initially included Kurdish as well as Turkish militants - whose goal was socialist revolution in Turkey. After years of recruiting and indoctrinating followers, the PKK was formally established on November 7, 1978. In the previous year, he committed his first known murder, that of an ideological rival accused of working for the government.

Since then, the group has evolved into a deadly insurgence against Turkey, reaching a strength of some 5,000 by 1992. From his bases in Syria and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Ocalan conducted a ruthless campaign, ostensibly for Kurdish independence but, as widely available PKK internal documents suggest, the ultimate goal is the creation of a Maoist state in areas of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. (Skeptics are urged to visit their website at http;/ Ocalan's ambitions were clearly defined in 1995 at the Fifth Congress of the PKK, where the "Resolution on Internationalism" stated that "By effectively arguing in favor of socialism and by spreading socialist ideas to the people of the region, [the PKK] is the vanguard of the global socialist movement." In 1984 the PKK was a founding member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), a sort of loosely structured Maoist version of Lenin's Comintern that also includes Peru's Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso).

Indeed, the similarities between the PKK and the Shining Path are striking: like the latter's founder, Abimael Guzman, Ocalan is a Maoist with global leadership ambitions; their tactics are particularly bloody, even by terrorist standards, and the main victims are civilians who refuse to submit to their groups. Frequent targets include teachers, members of village self-defense groups, and elected local officials. So far, since the beginning of its operations in 1980, the PKK is primarily responsible for a war that has left some 30,000 people dead (compared with 25,000 for the Shining Path). In addition, the PKK was responsible for a number of murders of Turks in Germany, which is the reason the German government has also issued a warrant for Ocalan's arrest.

For almost two decades, Ocalan has operated from Syria and Syrian-occupied Lebanon. However, last October, after Turkey very nearly went to war against Syria, Damascus backed down, closed PKK camps and expelled Ocalan. First he fled to Moscow, where he has enjoyed close relations for decades. While the Russian government denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, on November 4 the Duma unanimously voted to demand that he be given asylum. Two days later, 109 socialist and communist members of the Greek Parliament - one third of the entire body - issued an invitation to Ocalan to come to Greece as "leader of the world's most oppressed people." The collective invitation, supported by Greece's deputy speaker Panayiotis Sgouridis, was renewed by a Greek Socialist parliamentarian in Rome, after Ocalan's arrest.

To its credit the Russian government, under pressure from Turkey and the United States, expelled Ocalan, forcing him to flee to Italy. The terrorist leader's choice was not accidental: Italy's government is dominated by ex-communists of the party of the Democratic Left and supported by the unreconstructed ones.

Radu's piece ends with a prophectic paragraph,
Italy already has had a bad record in dealing with foreign terrorists: they routinely walk away from its jails, are given asylum or allowed to transit freely. It is also important to see if the ex-communists dominating the government in Rome have indeed become democratic or still share Ocalan's beliefs in "proletarian internationalism," and put them above justice and good sense. Furthermore, an Italian refusal to extradite Ocalan will irreparably damage Europe's already tense relations with Turkey and make a further mockery of the European Union's pontifications about "human rights" and international law. Indeed, if Ocalan goes free after a campaign that has left 30,000 dead in the name of Maoism, while Pinochet is put on trial for the deaths of 3,000 in winning Chile's war against communism, then we will know that the European capacity for political hypocrisy has not been exhausted by the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Italians released him in January 1999. Before we pick up the rest of his travels, a brief look at some of the PKK's exploits in the 90's. I'll ignore their direct actions against their opposition in Turkey (where they invariably ended up killing more Kurds than Turks) and just concentrate on those things that kept them classified as terrorists. These were culled from the "Chronologies of Significant Terrorist Incidents" portion of the annual State Department reports, conveniently collected on the Naval Postgraduate School's site. [A few of the "No one has claimed responsibility" entries may not be PKK actions, I included them because the timeframe, targets, and methods seemed to fit.]
24 June - Western Europe
Terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) staged a wave of coordinated attacks in more than 30 cities in six Western European countries. The attacks consisted primarily of vandalism against Turkish diplomatic and commercial targets, and included the take-over of one Turkish consulate.
27 June - Turkey
Terrorists threw handgrenades at a number of hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists in the Mediterranean resort area of Antalya. Twelve foreigners were among the 28 persons injured. Earlier, on 9 June, Kurdistan Workers Party leader Abdulla Ocalan threatened that his group would start to use violence against tourist facilities in Western Turkey.
5 July to 14 October - Turkey
In eight separate incidents within this period, the PKK kidnapped a total of 19 Western tourists traveling in southeastern Turkey. The hostages, including U.S. citizen Colin Patrick Starger, were released unharmed after spending several weeks in captivity.
25 July - Turkey
A terrorist bomb planted in a trash can next to an automatic teller machine in the Hagia Sophia district of Istanbul exploded and wounded two Italian tourists.
18 August - Turkey
Terrorists threw a handgrenade underneath a Hungarian tourist bus in front of a hotel. Three foreign tourists and five Turkish bystanders were injured.
4 November - Western Europe
The PKK staged a second round of coordinated attacks against Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities in six Western European countries. The assaults consisted mainly of firebombings and vandalism, but one person was killed and about 20 injured.
24 March - Turkey
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is believed responsible for bombing the Central Bazaar in Istanbul's historic tourist district. Four tourists, including two Romanian women, were injured by the blast.
27 March - Turkey
A bomb detonated in the gardens of the Saint Sophia Mosque and Museum in Istanbul, injuring three tourists: one German, one Spanish, and one Dutch. The Metropole Revenge Team of the political wing of the PKK claimed responsibility.
2 April - Turkey
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for bombing the IC Bedesten, the old bazaar at the center of the bazaar complex, in Istanbul. Two foreign tourists, one Spanish and one Belgian, were killed, and 17 others were injured.
21-22 June - Turkey
In the coastal towns of Fethiye and Marmaris, bombs killed one foreign national and injured 10 others at tourist sites. The PKK claimed responsibility for the attacks on German television.
22 June - Turkey
Two bombs detonated within minutes of each other at a beach and park in the resort town of Marmaris, wounding 12 persons, including four British nationals, one of whom died five days later.
8 August - Turkey
The PKK kidnapped two Finnish nationals, stating that they did not have "entry visas for Kurdistan." The Finns were held for 22 days before being released unharmed.
12 August - Turkey
A bomb detonated in the Topkapi Bus Terminal, killing one Romanian consular official and wounding seven other people. The PKK is suspected.
12 December - Turkey
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is believed responsible for a bomb blast outside a store in Istanbul, which injured eight persons, including four Romanian tourists.
22 April - Netherlands
Two Turkish citizens were shot by Kurdish extremists at a coffeehouse in The Hague. Four men were arrested in connection with the attack.
13 July - Turkey
Kurdish separatists abducted a Japanese tourist at a rebel checkpoint near Siirt. No demands were made, and the kidnappers released the hostage unharmed on 17 July. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is suspected.
20 August - France
Assailants threw a molotov cocktail at a building in Paris that houses a Turkish sporting and cultural association, injuring six persons and causing minor damage. Witnesses reported seeing three people flee the scene. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) may be responsible for the attack.
5 September - Germany
Arsonists attacked two Turkish-owned facilities. In Luebeck, arsonists set fire to a bistro. Two persons died and 20 were injured. Arsonists also firebombed a nightclub in Freital. There were no injuries. Authorities suspect the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
- Turkey
A pipe bomb exploded outside a Coca-Cola Company warehouse in Istanbul, causing minor damage to the building and to a vehicle. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
12 July - Austria
Four Kurdish militants occupied a Reuter news agency office in Vienna and held two employees hostage for several hours before surrendering. The attackers are suspected Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) sympathizers.
24 July - Germany
Turkish leftist militants seized a German Social Democratic Party (SPD) office in Frankfurt for several hours, taking four party officials hostage. The activists demanded improved conditions for political prisoners in Turkey and SPD support for their plight. Police forces stormed the office and arrested them.
26 July - Germany
Armed assailants briefly occupied a Turkish consulate office in Berlin. The attackers tied up four staffers and painted leftist slogans on the walls. The Turkish Communist Party Marxist/Leninist (TKP-ML) is suspected.
5 August - France
Unidentified assailants killed the local chief representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party at his Paris residence. No one claimed responsibility for the killing. [PKK and PUK were both aligned against the KDP in Northern Iraq --lp]
27 August - Germany
Turkish leftist militants shot at a vehicle carrying two members of a rival exiled-leftist organization, killing one of the occupants and injuring the other.
11 September - Iraq
Kurdish refugees seized nine UN employees near Sairanbar. A World Food Program official, a UNICEF official, and a UNHCR employee were among those taken. A crowd of refugees demonstrating near the UN offices seized the workers as thousands chanted anti-US slogans and threw rocks at UN employees. The refugees later released all the hostages.
13 September - Iraq
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) militants kidnapped four French workers for Pharmaciens Sans Frontieres (Pharmacists Without Borders), a Canadian UNHCR official, and two Iraqis.
21 January - Iraq At the Atrush refugee camp approximately 400 militants took 1,500 Turkish male refugees hostage and fled to nearby Garo mountain after the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) closed the camp. There are approximately 5,000 to 8,000 persons remaining at the camp. UNHCR and Turkish Government officials believe the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is responsible.
21 March - Germany
Suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) detonated an improvised explosive device next to propane/butane gas tanks outside a Turkish-owned fast-food restaurant in Bad Vilbel, injuring one person and causing extensive damage.
25 March - Netherlands
Suspected members or sympathizers of the Turkish Grey Wolves organization or the PKK set a fire at a home in a predominantly Turkish neighborhood in The Hague, killing a mother and her five children, and causing extensive damage.
13 October - Turkey
Nine PKK terrorists kidnapped two Bulgarian and one Turkish engineers from a coal mine. The Turkish engineer was found dead, but the Bulgarians were released unharmed on 16 October.
10 December - Turkey
Authorities defused a powerful time bomb found inside a gas cylinder at a Turkish facility adjoining the international ATAS oil refinery in Mersin. The ATAS refinery is a joint venture of Royal Dutch/Shell group, Mobil Oil, British Petroleum (BP), and Turkey's Marmara Petrol.
1998 [PKK attacks slack off when Ocalan is expelled from Syria. He flees to Moscow and ends up in Italy at the end of the year.]
10 April - Turkey
Two Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members on a motorcycle threw a bomb into a park near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, according to press reports. The explosion injured two Indian tourists, one New Zealander, four Turkish civilians, and two Turkish soldiers. On 12 April authorities arrested the two PKK members involved in the attack.
3 June - Turkey
Armed PKK militants kidnapped a German tourist and a Turkish truck driver at a roadblock in Agri, according to press reports. The German tourist was found unharmed the next morning near the kidnapping site, but the truck driver still is missing.
In January 1999 the Italians refused both Turkey's extradition and Ocalan's political asylum requests. Abdullah Ocalan began his "mystery tour."
The final chapter in this extraordinary story began in January when the Kurdish rebel leader left Italy for an undisclosed destination.

He spent some time shuttling around Europe in a private plane in search of sanctuary.

At one stage he tried to enter the Netherlands but his plane was not allowed to land. There were also reports that Switzerland, Greece, and Serbia had refused entry.

In early February, Turkey's mass circulation Hurriyet ran the headline: "Like a Ping Pong Ball."

Where did Ocalan wind up? Remember what Michael Radu said about the Greek socialists? On February 15, 1999, the Turks captured him as left the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and went to the airport. Who, if anyone, assisted the Turks is, to my knowledge, still an unanswered question, with the Greeks, Kenyans, CIA and everybody else denying they had anything to do with Ocalan being in Kenya or setting him up for capture.
8 February - Greece
A bomb exploded near the Turkish Consulate in Komotini, wounding a member of the bomb squad and causing minor damage. The US Embassy reported that a telephone caller to local authorities warned of and later claimed responsibility for the bomb on behalf of a group called the Support to Ocalan--The Hawks of Thrace.
16 February - Austria
Kurdish protesters stormed and occupied the Greek Embassy in Vienna, taking the Greek Ambassador and six other persons hostage. Several hours later the protesters released the hostages and left the Embassy. The attack followed the Turkish Government's announcement of the successful capture of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.
- France
Sixteen Kurdish protesters occupied the Kenyan Embassy in Paris and took seven Kenyan officials hostage. According to press reports, local police were able to end the occupation and gain the hostages' release without injuries.
- Germany
Kurdish protesters occupied the Kenyan Embassy in Bonn and held one person hostage for 12 hours before surrendering to police, according to press reports.
- Germany
Approximately 40 Kurdish protesters stormed the Kenyan National Tourist office in Frankfurt and took four employees hostage. The protesters released the hostages several hours after being assured no arrests would be made.
- Germany
Approximately 75 Kurdish protesters occupied a travel agency located in a building housing the Greek Consulate in Leipzig. Three travel agents were held hostage until authorities stormed the premises and freed them, according to press reports.
- Germany
According to press reports, Kurdish protesters occupied the Greek Embassy in Bonn and held one person hostage for 12 hours before surrendering to police.
- Italy
Approximately 30 Kurdish protesters occupied the Greek Consulate in Milan and held six persons hostage for four hours before surrendering, according to press reports.
- Netherlands
Approximately 150 Kurdish protesters stormed the Greek Ambassador's residence in The Hague, taking the Ambassador's wife, their eight-year-old son, and a Filipino servant hostage. The protesters released the hostages early the next day and were arrested.
- Switzerland
According to media reports, Kurdish protesters stormed the Greek Consulate in Zurich, taking the building's owner and a Swiss police officer hostage. On 17 February, US Embassy officials reported the release of both hostages unharmed.
- United Kingdom
Approximately 100 Kurdish protesters stormed and occupied the Greek Embassy in London, taking one night watchman hostage. On 18 February the protesters left the Greek Embassy and surrendered to British authorities.
17 February - Germany
Approximately 200 Kurdish protesters armed with clubs broke into the Israeli Consulate in Berlin and briefly took one Consulate worker hostage. Israeli guards shot and killed three protesters and wounded 15 others during the attack.
Ocalan, finally in the hands of the Turks and facing the death penalty, gave up his blustery rhetoric and his promises of becoming a martyr and told the PKK to turn to the path of peace, lay down their arms and embrace democracy, and give up the idea of creating an independent Kurdistan in Turkey. His ploy didn't work and he was convicted and sentenced to death on June 29, 1999. Of course, that's not the end of the timeline. Ocalan appealed and lost in the Turkish Security Court, then he started appeals through the European Court of Human Rights.

Time to leave Ocalan enjoying his stay as the only prisoner on the Turkish prison island of Imrali and get back to the PKK. What did they do with their "Chairman's" call to work peacefully for Kurdish rights in Turkey? It took them a year, but in February 2000, the PKK "announced a formal halt to its 15-year war against Turkey." Well, at least some of them did.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) statement on Wednesday followed reports of the rebels splitting on whether to follow Ocalan's peace moves.

The group said in a statement on Wednesday that it would push Kurdish rights "within the framework of peace and democratisation".

Echo call for peace

The PKK said that its push for peace was "inseparable" from the fate of Abdullah Ocalan, now on death row in a Turkish prison.

After his capture last February, he ordered his men to stop fighting, leave the country and prepare for a transformation into a peaceful, democratic, political party.

The PKK said its congress, which met in January, "has confirmed the decision of our party leader to stop the armed struggle."

Turkey has dismissed Ocalan's calls for a political dialogue as a tactic for avoiding the gallows, and said the guerrillas must surrender without preconditions.

Turkey put on hold any decision to hang Abdullah Ocalan, pending a review by the European Court of Human Rights.

Disown renegades

Many of the guerrilla fighters have withdrawn to northern Iraq where they are engaged in heavy skirmishing with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) fighters.

The congress called for an end to the conflict with the KDP in Iraq, and disowned a group of renegade PKK fighters believed to be active in Turkey's eastern Tunceli province.

The congress also announced changes to its logo, with a burning torch inside a star replacing a hammer and sickle inside a star.

Then, apparently before the EU process could finish, Turkey commuted Ocalan's sentence to life without parole in October 2002. "The decision is a formality in line with Turkey's abolition of the death penalty in August to meet criteria for European Union entry."

In April 2002, the PKK changed its name to KADEK (Congress for Freedom and Democracy in Kurdistan). The Turks didn't buy it:

However, Tuesday's move was immediately denounced as cosmetic by the Ankara government.

Correspondents say the name change is widely seen as an attempt by the PKK to distance itself from its violent past in an effort to circumvent the ban on its activities and be accepted as a legal party inside Turkey.

The PKK has been outlawed in Britain, France, Germany and Turkey, and branded as "terrorist" by Ankara and Washington

Europe didn't buy it, either; the EU added the PKK to its list of terrorist organizations that May.
Turkey has welcomed a European Union decision to add two outlawed Turkish groups to its list of terrorist organisations.

The EU has added 11 new organisations to the list, among them the Turkish separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and the far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party or DHKP-C.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, called it a significant development.

A senior security official, Feyzullah Arslan, said he hoped Turkey would now be able to extradite a number of alleged suspects from Europe, including the DHKP-C member, Fehriye Erdal, who's wanted in Turkey in connection with the killing three years ago of a prominent Turkish businessman.

The foregoing had little or nothing to do with Iraq or the Iraqi Kurds. If anyone wanted to call it "The War of the Kurdish Suppression," it still doesn't have anything to do with Iraq or a US war against Hussein. So, now I'll turn to where the Iraqi Kurds come into the picture.

The two main parties that control Iraqi Kurdistan have had a long and often unhappy relationship with the PKK; and they didn't buy the name change in the end, either. This BBC story comes from January 2002 (emphasis added).

[I]n a joint statement, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that they "categorically reject baseless and provocative accusations" that they were planning an independent state and understand the "legitimate concerns of neighbouring countries, especially of Turkey".

Turkey provides valuable access for the landlocked Iraqi Kurds to the outside world and hosts the American air base that protects the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

In return, the Kurdish parties, who have been governing the area south of Turkey's border with Iraq since 1991, have been trying to maintain good neighbourly relations with Turkey.

"It is our primary duty to safeguard the security of our borders and the stability in the region," the joint statement added.

In performing this "duty", Iraqi Kurds have prevented Turkey's main Kurdish rebel party, the PKK, from operating in their area. This has involved armed clashes and allowed the Turkish army to enter their region to pursue the PKK.

The KDP, being more nationalist than socialist, rarely had good relations with the PKK; but the socialist PUK had on-and-off alliances with them. That association was beginning to break up when the US brokered a peace and powersharing agreement between the KDP and PUK in 1998, and the post-September 11th world fairly well severed it completely, meaning the PKK kills PUK forces just like it had been killing KDP forces all along. The Turkish incursions into Northern Iraq, including the Turkish Air Force raids on PKK camps that so dismay Jim, were quietly accepted (and possibly welcomed) by the PUK & KDP.

A February 3, 2003 interview with Jalal Talabani, "Vice President of the Kurdish Regional Government and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party."

What is the current state of relations between the PUK and Turkey?

They are good. We have no problems.

But traditionally they have not been good…

A year ago, they were not good. But now, they are not bad. Relations are normal. Before, we were cooperating with PKK, and Turkey was very worried about our policy. But when the cooperation between PUK and PKK ended, there was no longer cause for any kind of animosity.

Also, the PUK's relations with Turkmens have always been very good, and this is reflecting on Turkey's attitude toward the PUK.

What was the outcome of your talks with the Turkmen Front on Thursday?

We received a high-level delegation from the Turkmen Front. We have an agreement with them for cooperation on a wide range of issues. We decided to strengthen and extend our cooperation on all levels, for the future of Iraq, and for the future of our respective ethnic groups.

To what extent does the Turkmen Front represent Turkish interests in Iraq?

Well, let me say very frankly that the Turkmen Front has a very good relation with Turkey. And the policy of Turkey is to protect and defend Turkmens everywhere.

The new government headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said they would protect both Turkmens and Kurds in Iraq. He said they consider both Kurds and Turkmens as their relatives and brothers. So, if they come to northern Iraqi, they will come to defend us.

Is it a positive thing to have Turkish troops in the area?

We prefer that this area remain without foreign troops. But we cannot prevent anyone from entering our area.


Because we are weak! How can we prevent them? If there is a war, do you think Europe or other countries will be able to stop the Americans? If they cannot stop them, how can we? Do you think we are so strong? Don't forget, we are Kurdish. We are not the Peoples Republic of China.

And, it's not just the PKK that's a problem…
How will you deal with the threat posed by the Ansar Al Islam group?

This is a problem. Ansar Al Islam is now a mixed terrorist group. They have about 150 Arabs who came from Afghanistan. They have 100 fundamentalist Kurds from Iran. They also have some Arabs from Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria, as well as Kurds from Iraq.

They are a terrorist group. They have declared war against all secular parties. They consider these parties as against Islam, and they consider the PUK and other secular parties as the agents of Zionism and Christianity.

The government of Kurdistan cannot wait forever while they commit crimes and then hide in the mountains. We are planning to get rid of them. If they surrender, Okay. If they are willing to lay down their arms, Okay.

If some of the members are willing to change their ideology and join other Muslim groups that are not against the government, Okay. Otherwise, we are obliged to do something to finish their activities in the area. We will be glad to have the U.S. help us, but if not, we will have to do it by ourselves.

The problem facing the KDP/PUK Kurdish Regional Government in Northern Iraq is that they are barely able to defend themselves against the other Kurdish threats — the PKK and Ansar Al-Islam, who are both being supported by Iran. Some reports say the PKK may have fled northern Iraq and moved its bases into northern Iran, since Syria is still holding to its deal with Turkey.

That becomes the US's problem in a war against Iraq. The idea that the KDP/PUK forces would have any role greater than defending their current territory is ridiculous. Somewhere, Jim Henley got the opposite idea,

Also, are "light weapons" enough for the Kurds to fulfill their planned offensive role of providing the bulk of the manpower for the drive south on Baghdad?
I doubt that was ever a serious proposition. For both military and political reasons, nobody would want the Kurds attacking Baghdad. But, 'What can be expected from Kurd forces?' asked during some meeting quickly gets turned into 'The Administration is considering plans to use Kurdish forces during an attack on Iraq' by the press, and then it starts to spread around as 'the plan to attack Baghdad.'

Back to the interview…

Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish Regional Government, maintains that Kurdish-ruled areas will not be used in a U.S.-led war on Iraq. Is this correct?

That is true. America's plans do not include the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq, nor do they include using Kurdish forces. The Americans have their own forces. They asked us only to protect and defend our own area, not to participate in any attack against the Iraqi forces.

Second, it is not good for future relations between Kurds and Arabs if we were to attack Arab cities like Mosul or Kirkuk. If we attack Kirkuk, we would provoke Turkey. If we attack Mosul, and there are casualties, this would create a kind of animosity between Kurds and Arabs. For this reason, we are not planning to attack any Arab or Iraqi towns.

Our plan is to defend our area and protect our people, but we are also looking to liberate Iraq. Perhaps we will participate in a popular uprising. If there is an uprising, it will be in Baghdad and other main cities, and it will start when people see that the regime is close to collapsing. I am sure the Iraqi people will rise up and liberate towns that are now controlled by the Iraqi regime.

Are you going to send PUK forces to Baghdad?

We don't need to send PUK forces to Baghdad. We think that the people of Baghdad - whether Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Sunnis, or Shi'ites - will rise up against the regime as they did after the Gulf War.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz threatened that Iraq would attack any government, which helps the U.S. pursue its plan against the Baghdad regime. Are you worried they may target areas under Kurdish rule?

If American troops come to our areas, they must first get permission from Turkey, otherwise they cannot come - unless they come by parachute, but I don't think a huge army will be able to come by parachute.

We are expecting Turkey to grant permission to the Americans. When the U.S. army crosses the Turkish border and enters northern Iraq, we expect a reaction from the Iraqi regime.

But I have a question: Can the Iraqi regime really pose a threat to us when it is under attack by the Americans? I don't think so. It is my impression that when they are under attack, they will lose control, the army will not obey their orders, and the regime will collapse.

This is only propaganda. If you remember, they did the same thing during the 1991 Gulf War. They announced that if the American army comes, they would do such and such, and they would defeat them.

They claimed it would be a second Vietnam. And the result was 80,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendering without fighting. This is pure propaganda by the Iraqi regime. The regime is very weak. Saddam Hussain is totally isolated from the people, and the army. We are not afraid of them.

All-in-all it was a fairly straightforward interview with surprisingly little political rhetoric and bravado. But it runs directly counter to this communiqué.
London ( 24 February 2003: In a communiqué issued by 23 Kurdistani political organisations of south kurdistan, Kurds, Turkmens and Assyrians condemned the planned Turkish-US invasion of south Kurdistan.

"There is no justification for invading South Kurdistan... for the sake of saving the democratic experience and in order not to tilt the balance of power in the region, we strongly stand against the Turkish invasion," the communiqué said.

"The Kurdistani nation stands firm against every kinds of invasions and will not kneel. It [the nation] is ready to give whatever sacrifices it takes in order to stop the Turkish invasion and any invasion of Kurdistan."

The forces urged the Kurdish dispora to fight back. "We urge the Kurdish and Iraqi Diaspora to condemn the Turkish policy by every possible means, including condemnations and demonstrations."

Below are the 23 organisations that signed the communiqué:

The Kurdistan Communist Party – Iraq
The Kurdistan Social Democrat Party
The Democratic Labour Party
The Democratic Mesopotamia Party
The Kurdish Hizbullah Revolutionary Party
The Islamic Movement of Kurdistan – Iraq
The Turkomen Cultural Association of Kurdisan – Iraq
The Brotherhood Turkomen Party of Iraq
The Unity Turkomen Party of Iraq
The Democratic Turkoman Party of Kurdisan
The Iraqi National Party
The Kurdistani Popular Party
The Democratic Movement of Kurdistan Nation
The Farmers and Toilers Movement of Kurdistan
The Toilers Struggle Movement of Kurdistan
The Freedom Party of Kurdistan
The Kurdish National Association
The Faly Kurdish Association
The Association of Toilers of Kurdistan
The Kurdistan Freedom Congress
The Movement of Democratic Demands of Kurdistan
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
The Unity of National Democrats of Kurdistan (YNDK)

That was a bunch of Kurds getting together and the only statement they could agree on was, "Let's cut our throats so Hussein won't have to." There's no thought or realism behind it, it's just what they think they have to say to keep up appearances.

The Turks (probably including Turkey's Kurds) don't want a million Iraqi Kurds running to Turkey, the KDP/PUK joint government doesn't really want Turkish "protectors" but knows they need somebody to help them while the US is busy, because 1) nobody wants the Iranians coming in, 2) Ansar Al-Islam needs to be put down, and 3) the PKK are liable to pop up anywhere. Additionally, Turkey has to consider the effects on its efforts to join the EU, which won't happen if it is engaged in an inappropriate occupation of northern Iraq. (Though with France and Germany playing Masters of the EUniverse, Turkey might be having second thoughts about whether it's worth joining or not.)

Baghdad is 450km south of Turkey, it's also 450km north of Kuwait. Attacking from both directions would be advantageous, not only from a military standpoint, but also out of consideration for the Kurds. It is not, however, absolutely necessary. If the US was giving no thought to its self-imposed obligations to the Iraqi Kurds, Turkey could have been told to take a hike, the US could invade from the south and let Hussein's army do whatever it wanted as it scurried northward from Baghdad shouting, "Run away! Run away!"

Consider one of Vice President Talabani's comment's once again: "Can the Iraqi regime really pose a threat to us when it is under attack by the Americans? I don't think so. It is my impression that when they are under attack, they will lose control, the army will not obey their orders, and the regime will collapse." That can be reassuring to the Kurds only if the US has some portion of its forces attacking from the north, otherwise the Kurds are sitting in the Iraqi army's line of retreat.

In the end, it seems the whole 'sellout of the Kurds' argument came up, not out of concern for the Iraqi Kurds, but as just another smokescreen tossed out by those who oppose the war. I say that because here is Jim's August 2002 summary of what he thinks US should do. It's basically an isolationist approach:

I have previously said that I do not argue for maintaining the status quo rather than war. In some ways the status quo is worse than going to war. It is (one more time) like poking a trapped animal with a sharp stick.

1. End the sanctions.

2. End the no-fly zones.

3. End the inspections.

4. Rescind the "regime change" finding.

Make it clear, as we did in 1991, that we will annhilate Saddam, his family, his government and his army if he attacks us with nukes, chemicals or biological weapons or provides such weapons to people who attack us. And oh by the way, tell Saddam that just as it's none of our business if he acquires weapons-of-some-destruction (as opposed to using them on us), it's also none of our business what Israel does to Iraq if he uses WSDs on them.

The unstated, but obvious, part of that policy is the 'oh by the way, tell Saddam that it's none of our business what he does to the Kurds in northern Iraq, either.'

In other words, even if the Administration's plan results in "The War of the Kurdish Suppression" by the Turks, Jim's prescription results in Hussein being able to carry out his own suppression of the Kurds. Which is worse for the Iraqi Kurds? While Turkey's overall human rights record is poor, and its attempt at forced assimilation of minorities makes it worse, it is necessary to remember that the situation in Turkey is far different than in places like the former Yugoslavia. Turkey hasn't been physically exterminating its Kurdish population or driving them out of the country. The Turkish Kurds displaced from their villages during the war against the PKK are almost entirely internal displacements, with most of them going to Turkey's cities — they were not driven into Iraq, nor did they flee to Iraq. The direction of fleeing Kurdish civilians between Iraq and Turkey has been from Iraq to Turkey, not vice versa. That should indicate which side most Kurds think is worse.

Kurdistan does not exist and The Kurds™ are not one big happy family. Given a measure of autonomy after the Gulf War, the PUK and KDP in northern Iraq spent 1991 - 1998 in open warfare among themselves, with the PUK getting assistance from Iran (and the PKK), while the KDP got help from the Iraqi army. The "renegade" members of the PKK who broke with KADEK are still out there, so the Turks have a valid issue if they are concerned the PKK might use an influx of refugees as cover to re-establish themselves in Turkey, which is one reason to make sure the refugee camps are established on the Iraqi side of the border. I agree with Jim's assessment that the status quo isn't working, but I think reverting to the pre-1991 status would be worse for everybody, including the Iraqi Kurds, over both the short and long terms.

A Diplospeak Reminder from the wrangling over the draft first resolution on Iraq during October 2002.
Instead of threatening "all necessary means" should Iraq refuse to cooperate, the Bush administration has proposed the words "serious consequences," a nuanced diplomatic approach the United States hopes will sound less belligerent yet still afford tacit U.N. approval for the use of military force, if necessary.
Something to keep in mind now that they are wrangling over the second resolution. "Serious consequences" has gotten enough media play that the general public believes it means "war," but don't be surprised if the US gets its version of the second resolution passed and suddenly there are arguments that "serious consequences" includes everything except "war."

Original content copyright © 2002-2005 Lynxx Pherrett. All rights reserved.