Turkey makes its point, withdraws … for now

posted at 9:20 am on February 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Turkey has ended its incursion into northern Iraq, according to the Iraqi government, and its troops will return home shortly. The raid intended to wipe out PKK bases in the Zap valley, and some sources in Turkey claim that they have succeeded:

Turkey wound down its major ground offensive against Kurdish PKK rebels inside northern Iraq on Friday, although it declined to confirm an Iraqi minister’s statement that it had already withdrawn all its troops.Turkey sent thousands of soldiers into remote, mountainous northern Iraq on February 21 to crush rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who use the region as a base for attacks on Turkish territory. Washington feared the incursion could destabilize an area of relative stability in Iraq….

A Turkish military source, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed only that Turkish forces had fully withdrawn from the key Zap valley in northern Iraq, long a major PKK stronghold, and most had already arrived back in Turkey.

The invasion made its point. The Turks rightly had lost patience with the Iraqis over their inability to control PKK terrorists in Zap. The valley has not come under Iraqi control, and PKK had flourished there as a result. The terrorists used their isolation to conduct attacks in Turkey that Ankara could no longer tolerate.

The US had pressed Turkey to avoid attacks on Iraq, but in the end could not stop the Turks from retaliating against terrorists. Instead, the US tried to contain the fighting to Zap and keep the situation from escalating into the rest of Iraqi Kurdistan. In that, we seem to have succeeded; the Turks did not attack areas controlled by the Iraqi security forces.

Americans and Iraqis have to come to a better solution to the PKK menace. While Kurds in Turkey have legitimate grievances, we cannot allow terrorists to operate in Iraq, especially under our protection. It not only works against the entire mission in Iraq, it will eventually destabilize the relationship between what we hope will be the only two moderate Muslim democracies in the region.

We need both Turkey and Iraq as partners to bolster our fight against radical Islamist terrorists. We don’t need them fighting each other, with the US in the middle.

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Barack Hussein O’Jesus just said that he wants to bomb Maliki and meet with the PKK.

Akzed on February 29, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Gotta love the name: ZAP Valley!

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Now more than ever before: Damn commies!

MarkoMancuso on February 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM

I’ve long thought that the Kurds should have their own country. Since Kurdistan is currently part of Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, all three would be equally aggrieved if the pieces were combined to make a new Kurdistan.

It should be done, but it’s perhaps a measure of the limitations of our power than we can’t effect such a development.

MrLynn on February 29, 2008 at 9:27 AM

I agree in thinking the Kurds deserve their own country. Since the Turks, Arabs, and Persians all seem to hate the Kurds (perhaps the Persians less so, since Kurdish is a Persian-related language?), frankly, they probably deserve to have their own independent nation.

Won’t happen though, at least not in the current geopolitical landscape.

The Kurds have been interesting in that although by language and culture and ethnicity they’re closer to the Persians, they’ve been demonstrably closer to the Turks in their knack for administrating. I’ve heard that Kurdistan is arguably the most effectively and efficiently run areas of Iraq.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Marxist/Leninists . . . therein lie political philosophies Barack can embrace.

rplat on February 29, 2008 at 9:34 AM

I think our position re: the PKK has been pretty poor. We do need to work with the Turks and the proper Kurdish factions to come to a solution. The Turk-PKK conflict has killed 40,000 people. 40,000. The Turkish ambassador to the US has called them the “deadliest terrorist organization in the world today” and I’d have to say, there’s a good case to be made. We shouldn’t paper over this because it’s inconvenient. It goes against what we’ve told the rest of the world, not to mention the Turks are a NATO ally.

CP on February 29, 2008 at 9:35 AM

moderate Muslim democracies

Sorry, won’t happen. Turkey is on the fast track to full Islamization and Iraq can NEVER be moderate democracy, as most of it’s citizens are eather Shi’a or Sunni extremists. Iraq can be eather moderate non-democracy, or non-moderate democracy or non-democratic non-democracy. I prefer the first option. How about you?

Aristotle on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

CP on February 29, 2008 at 9:35 AM

And this is an American problem because….????????

While this nation can’t be isolationist, it is sheer lunacy to think that we can “work with the proper factions” to resolve issues that date back to when the Ottoman Empire was carved up at the end of WWI.

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Correction: non-democratic non-democracy should be non-moderate non-democracy

Aristotle on February 29, 2008 at 9:43 AM

…we cannot allow terrorists (PKK) to operate in Iraq, especially under our protection.

You mean like: Al Qaeda and hundreds of similar groups operating right at this very moment under the U.S.’s nose?

Turkey didn’t allow the U.S. to invade Iraq from the North. Surely the result would have been better. But who cares?

You can’t tell everybody what to do all the time, even if you’re America…Especially if you’re the America of George W. Bush and soon the more miserable, weaker America of Hussein or Hillary.

Indy Conservative on February 29, 2008 at 9:47 AM

Turkey has done everyone a favor whether they recognize it or not. We should adopt the simple rule: KILL THE TERRORISTS = GOOD THING, PLEASE DO – regardless who they are or where they are.

jimbo2008 on February 29, 2008 at 10:00 AM

If one of America’a allies had allowed a foreign power to invade Coalition-controlled territory we’d be hearing screams to high heaven but this can be rationalised away because the Kurdish nationalists are also….Marxists. Gee its just like the Cold War. Thank God our Turkish allies helped bolster us against the Soviet Union and Fidel. Sheesh.

aengus on February 29, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Aren’t there any prisoners? Where is Turkey holding them? What interrogation techniques are the Turks using. Was there “collateral” damage? Were innocent women and children hurt? What is the name of Turkey’s prison where prisoners are held? What are the conditions there like? Has the red cross visited? Has CNN and the NY Times been allowed in to investigate? What color ribbons are being used to show solidarity with the terrorists being held by Turkey? Has Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid commented yet? Was anyone waterboarded?

Until I have clear answers to all these questions, the Turks are considered in violation of international law and I suggest we cut off all aid and assistance and cooperation with them. We have long experience dating back to Vietnam in how to run the war at home for public consumption. It’s high time the Turks commit national suicide as well!

JiangxiDad on February 29, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Turkey is on the fast track to full Islamization …

Aristotle on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

They are in the process of moderating and modernizing interpretations of Islam.

Buy Danish on February 29, 2008 at 10:10 AM

They are in the process of moderating and modernizing interpretations of Islam.

Buy Danish on February 29, 2008 at 10:10 AM

No they aren’t. I was truly amazed at the amount of people here who have fallen for this BS. The centrality of jihad in Islam and general hatred against the kufr can not be modernised away by changing around a few hadiths. The Turks know that most westerners will not study Islam and are in fact counting on it.

aengus on February 29, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Cut and Run can be spun into victory!

Can we not blow another $200 billion on nation building in Iraq this year, please?

We’re broke.

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Turkey is on the fast track to full Islamization and Iraq can NEVER be moderate democracy, as most of it’s citizens are eather Shi’a or Sunni extremists.

They are? I’d sure like to see those numbers.

Pablo on February 29, 2008 at 10:27 AM

We’re broke.

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 10:26 AM

Nonsense.

You just don’t like the way the government is spending the money it has.

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM

Highhopes:

Not trying to support Alphie’s argument here, since I support the war on terror fully, including the Iraq and Afghanistan operations (and actually wish we’d take Iran’s government down before it’s too late).

But…

For the wrong reasons, Alphie’s right: We’re BROKE.

I work for US Treasury Department Headquarters. RIGHT next to the White House. Flip over your $10 bill. I am sitting in the building you see on the back of that bill right now.

Alfie (and lots of liberals) are wrong in thinking it’s the war that’s got us broke. It ain’t the war. When you look at the details of the federal budget and see how much the war effort is taking up, it needs to be put into perspective.

Most folks don’t know that the US government budget really needs to be thought of in two huge different chunks, one much larger than the other: The DISCRETIONARY chunk, and the NON-DISCRETIONARY chunk.

Stuff like the war, like social programs excluding the entitlement programs (this will become important in a minute), like operating the federal government’s agencies and their bureaus, etc., is part of the discretionary budget. That’s the part that gets submitted to OMB and to Congress for review, edit, and approval every year.

The discretionary piece is a SMALL slice of the entire federal budget pie…maybe 30% to 40%…the HUGE piece is the Non-discretionary piece. And what makes up this piece?

The ENTITLEMENT programs: Social Security (huge), Medicare (Even HUGER and dwarfs Social Security), and Medicaid (not that big, actually, by comparison to the other two).

Both Barry O and Shrillary want to mandate universal health insurance coverage. In other words, add MORE ENTITLEMENT to the non-discretionary budget, when we can’t borry money FAST ENOUGH to cover what we currently have, let alone once the baby boom generation starts retiring in droves. SOON.

Alphie’s right. We’re broke. But for entirely the wrong reasons. Barry O. could stop the war on a dime tomorrow, and the change in how broke we are really wouldn’t make much of an impact. SERIOUSLY.

Even IF the libs don’t take POTUS, and don’t keep both houses of congress, we’re broke. If they sweep POTUS and both houses, we’re gonna be one hell of a lot MORE broke.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 10:53 AM

They’re called “non-discretionary” funds for just that reason: OMB and Congress have NO discretion to change the non-discretionary portion of the federal budget. They’re ENTITLEMENTS. We HAVE TO PAY them. We have no choice but to pay the social security, medicare, and medicaid payees. And if we don’t take in enough revenue (that’s right, your tax dollar and mine) to cover what we have to pay for both the discretionary and non-discretionary portions, there are only a couple of options:

1. BORROW it (Bureau of the Public Debt) and drive up the national debt and our interest owed on that debt

or

2. PRINT lots of money (Bureau of Engraving & Printing, who make the paper bills, and the US Mint, who stamp the metal coins), beyond the amounts demanded for normal economic commerce in the economy. This is often a BAD idea because it tends to send inflation skyrocketing and is one of several reasons why Germany collapsed economically after WWI. Which resulted in the Third Reich. Which resulted in an even huger World War later. Lots of dead and maimed people and lots of money lost, whole economies destroyed. Like I said, BAD idea.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 10:59 AM

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Thanks for the response, I have fond memories of watching Reagan’s first inaugural parade from outside your building.

I agree we are “broke” in the way you delineated discretionary and non-discretionary budgets. I somehow don’t think Alfie was railing against the portion of the budget that includes entitlement programs.

That being said, one of my greatest fears is that Obama will do what the Clintons did in 1993. They essentially gutted the military by diverting all the funding to their pet liberal projects. The so-called “peace dividend” that was spent on social welfare is part of the reason terrorists were able to commit the 9/11/01 atrocities and part of the reason why the military is straining to keep up the mission after five years of combat in two theaters. We need a robust military and neither Democrat running for office is fit to be the troops Commander-in-Chief. This is the one area where McCain really is the best choice even though the rest of his agenda is far to left-of-center to be President.

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 11:09 AM

Shirotayama,

Are you going to refuse to take your generous government retirement package at the end of your career?

Or is it just us private sector employees you think should give up their benefits for American Empire expansion?

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Highhopes, you say “I agree we are “broke” in the way you delineated discretionary and non-discretionary budgets. I somehow don’t think Alfie was railing against the portion of the budget that includes entitlement programs.”

I agree with you, the impression I got is that Alphie was railing against the war and trying to argue that it was the war that has us broke.

I was trying to simultaneously refute his argument and yet set the record straight for a conservative blog-reading public. Since I really enjoy it when other conservatives are right when they speak, and have the facts behind them.

You also say “one of my greatest fears is that Obama will do what the Clintons did in 1993. They essentially gutted the military by diverting all the funding to their pet liberal projects. The so-called “peace dividend” that was spent on social welfare is part of the reason terrorists were able to commit the 9/11/01 atrocities and part of the reason why the military is straining to keep up the mission after five years of combat in two theaters. We need a robust military and neither Democrat running for office is fit to be the troops Commander-in-Chief. This is the one area where McCain really is the best choice even though the rest of his agenda is far to left-of-center to be President.”

Highhopes, I could NOT agree with you more. At the end of the 1st Bush admin, and beginning of the Clinton admin, I actually worked for a large 3-letter intel agency and we worked closely with the military. The gutting of our agency, and I’m sure most of the others in “the community” as well as the military itself, actually began during Bush 41. Well…not gutting…Bush 41 FROZE further development. The true gutting started when the Clintons came into office.

Things got so bad, I chose to leave an established career in my early 30′s, got to MBA school, build an entirely new career, worked for a number of years in the private sector before coming back into government again several years ago when a company I was working for looked like it was about to go belly up. (fortunately for them they turned it around and if I’d been able to hang on, I’d be a LOT richer than I am now!)

I’m with ya. Assuming Obama (or even Hillary) wins, my top priority will be to try and find a federal position outside of DC proper, since I don’t give this city 8 years before some jihadi gets hold of a nuke and detonates it in a Hertz or Penske truck on 15th Street right underneath my office.

THIS is one among several reasons why I railed against people deciding not to vote this year because McCain is the GOP (likely) nominee. Faced with voting for the greater or lesser of two evils, I’ll pick the lesser. I’m not a fan o McCain’s record myself. But by comparison with Bambi or Hitlery, there’s just no choice. Survival instinct drives me to vote for whoever the Republican nominee is next November.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:22 AM

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Generous government retirement package? ROTFLMAO!

What the heck are you smoking this morning? Or are you just misinformed?

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Alphie,

FUCK YOU. I DO work for a living. And I’ve EARNED my retirement.

So go FUCK YOURSELF.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM

He’s right, it’s not bad. It’s the ONLY plan I know of where you get to keep your medical coverage after retirement and THEY cover it, and if you kick off, your spouse and minor children get to keep your coverage too.

Why’d you think I:

a) Came BACK into government, and
b) STAY here? I’ve had private sector offers. GOOD ones. Fact is, I enjoy working for the feds and don’t wanna leave.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Alphie, what freakin’ EMPIRE EXPANSION are you blathering about?

From where I sit, our empire is CONTRACTING. Radical Islam on the rise, wanting to rebuild a modern Caliphate. China’s rise into the new superpower, if not yet, SOON. China also holding a significant enough portion of my employer’s debt where if they came calling for repayment of ALL of it without warning, both you AND me AND everybody else would see chaos of a type no one in our generation has yet seen.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I’m out. Need to get back to work.
You guys need at least some return on your tax buck.

Toss whatever you want back at me, Alphie.
I won’t see it.

Shiro out.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:29 AM

They’re called “non-discretionary” funds for just that reason: OMB and Congress have NO discretion to change the non-discretionary portion of the federal budget. They’re ENTITLEMENTS. We HAVE TO PAY them.
Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 10:59 AM

…Or else what?

This has to be the most idiotic flim-flam in the 10,000-year history of human government. All those times leaders cliamed: “Build me a temple, or a giant lizard will eat all of us,” look like sheer genious compared to this “entitlement” gibberish.

“We have to pay the funds according to the schedules Congress set up because Congress’ hands are tied — by Congress!”

Geesh. At least give people some credit here. Even if we all know it’s not true, couldn’t these people have the common decency to at least PRETEND they think there’s a giant lizard out there?

No, of course they can’t. They have to take half of my income, and then treat me like I’m a brain-dead imbicile to boot.

logis on February 29, 2008 at 11:35 AM

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Whoa man, ouch, right in ‘e eye, man… You want Olby to see that nastitude?

Akzed on February 29, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Shirotayama,

You’re the one who referred to the benefits American private-sector workers have bought and paid for through special taxes as “the problem.”

If the Turks have managed to do in a week what the U.S. military has failed to do in six years (and a trillion dollars), maybe we should hire them to handle Iraq for us.

Or is a little competition bad for U.S. government employees?

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Oh, good God. Alphie made it in here?

*sigh*

Pablo on February 29, 2008 at 11:48 AM

OK, finished up my morning assignment and about to head out to bring my lunch back, figured I’d check and see what came back.

Akzed: Beggin’ pardon but I’ve typically been one of the one-third of the federal workforce that actually WORKS and has to carry the other two-thirds. I get just a wee bit sensitive when some yahoo figures they have the right to ask me to give up a retirement I’ve actively worked hard to earn. I’d never ask anyone else to give up their retirement benefits, and definitely empathize when companies and entire industries shrivel up and leave workers hanging out to dry with no retirement…particularly when they were led to expect a good one. Heck, if things get bad enough for the government, it’s not outside the realm of the possible for federal retirement benefits to crumble also.

As far as Olby goes, well, whatever. I was responding to somebody suggesting I give up a retirement I earned. Not sure Olby’d fault me for that. And if he wants to waste his time on me, well, whatever. Truly, I’m small potatoes around here.

ALPHIE: ACTUALLY, sir, a little competition IS good for U.S. government employees. Please Google “OMB Circular A-76″. It’s all about public/private sector competition and the outsourcing of federal functions that ought to be handled by the private sector. A-76 is something the Bush administration has pushed VERY VERY hard for. And a number of federal (mostly defense-related) functions and activities HAVE been outsourced to the private sector. You’ve simply never heard about it on the news. But watch A-76 fade to irrelevance once the libs get back in power.

As for the relative effectiveness of the Turkish military vs. US military in Iraq, my response is: I’m a civilian employee, bub. Go ask a military man that question. I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable enough about military operations to respond intelligently on that specific point.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Logis,

You say “…Or else what?”

Good question. Answer: The payees will probably sue us. And win.

You also said “We have to pay the funds according to the schedules Congress set up because Congress’ hands are tied — by Congress!”

Good point. You’ll get no argument from me.

Shirotayama on February 29, 2008 at 12:09 PM

alphie on February 29, 2008 at 11:41 AM

First, let me welcome you. I imagine your comments will continue to be a source of amusement :D

I mean the ignorance on display is spectacular.

Of all your missstated and misunderstood comments, this

You’re the one who referred to the benefits American private-sector workers have bought and paid for through special taxes as “the problem.”

is probably easiest to refute.

If those benefits were actually completely paid for by those special taxes, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that we’re paying out more than we’re taking in. So clearly, those benefits are not bought, and not paid for, by the special taxes.

Me? I’d rather the gov’t give me that money, and let me invest it myself.

apollyonbob on February 29, 2008 at 12:09 PM

OK, so why does the terrorist KLA gets its own pseudo-country?

corona on February 29, 2008 at 1:17 PM

And this is an American problem because….????????

While this nation can’t be isolationist, it is sheer lunacy to think that we can “work with the proper factions” to resolve issues that date back to when the Ottoman Empire was carved up at the end of WWI.

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM

A resolution to this situation is in our interest for several reasons – we don’t need Turkey getting into a war with the non-PKK Kurds; we don’t need Turkey and the central Iraqi gov’t to be at odds over this; the PKK are terrorists and we undermine our policy vis-a-vis the GWOT by ignoring them; ignoring the PKK and condemning Turkey for dealing with them is counterproductive to our important relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally and key player in the region. When I said “work with the proper factions”, I didn’t mean I expect a kumbaya moment. But, we have a relationship and some influence with the non-PKK Kurds who have a very effective security force and we can provide intelligence cooperation with the Turkish government.

CP on February 29, 2008 at 1:58 PM

CP on February 29, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Thank you for the clarification. Yes, it is in our interest for the reasons you stated. I was primarily responding mostly to the “We do need to work with the Turks and the proper Kurdish factions to come to a solution.

I am by no means an isolationist and I fully understand that global power comes with global responsibility BUT I also believe that America shouldn’t unilaterally insert itself into every single global squabble. If the world is so concerned about the Darfur region of the Sudan, why isn’t the UN or some other nation/group taking the lead on resolving the problem instead of whining that the US hasn’t done enough? Why was every nation willing to let Saddam Hussein ignore the disarmament sanctions until the US said “not so fast?”

In the case of the Kurdish/Turkish dispute, I think we need to tread lightly for some of the same reasons you say we should act. Most importantly because it seems to be sending mixed messages. We want the central Iraqi government to stand up and take on more responsibility yet we then get involved in what is essentially a squabble between Iraq and Turkey? I’d be in favor of having Dr. Rice act as an intermediary but we don’t need to be taking sides in a border dispute between our NATO ally and our best hope at attaining a politically stable and democratic(ish)Middle Eastern government.

highhopes on February 29, 2008 at 3:01 PM