NATO's Secret Kurdish War: Turkey Prepares Iraq-Style Attacks Inside Syria
Recent reports detail a Turkish military buildup on the Turkish-Syrian border with various accounts mentioning the deployment of troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers and missile batteries two kilometers from Syrian territory, with 25 tanks from the Mardin 70th Mechanized Brigade engaged in exercises along the border.
The Turkish rationale for the military escalation is that forces of the Democratic Union Party, an ethnic Kurdish group that Ankara accuses of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, have assumed control of the Syrian cities of Efrin (Afrin), Kobane and Amude (Amuda) near southeastern Turkey.
The secular, left-wing Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been struggling for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey since 1978 and is labelled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.
The Turkish government has been waging a counterinsurgency war against the PKK for 28 years in Turkey, and over the past decade in northern Iraq, with the active support of the Pentagon and NATO. In fact, the campaign against Kurdish opposition groups is another, unacknowledged, American and NATO war, one to be added to a growing list that includes Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and now Syria.
In recent years, for example, NATO and the Pentagon's European Command and Central Command have become increasingly involved in supporting Turkish military attacks against the PKK and other Kurdish groups in Turkey and Iraq. (Turkey is in European Command's area of responsibility; Iraq is in Central Command's.)
In September of 2005 the joint top commander of U.S. European Command and NATO at the time, Marine General James Jones (later the Barack Obama administration's first national security advisor), met with members of the Turkish general staff and signed a memorandum of understanding for a NATO counterterrorism center in Turkey.
His comments at the time included these:
"We discussed specific Turkish concerns, obviously, with regard to the PKK.
"Turkey is ideally suited to host the Center of Excellence-Defense Against Terrorism. Turkey has the second largest armed forces in NATO, is strategically located, and has over 30 years [of] experience combating terrorism."
The NATO Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism had been inaugurated in Turkey on June 28, 2005.
In July of 2006 the Turkish head of state, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on NATO to openly join the anti-PKK counterinsurgency war, stating:
"NATO, which joined in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, should also do the same here.
"It would be good to make tripartite efforts (Turkey, NATO and the US) and to get some results."
The following month his request was partially realized when the U.S. appointed former top NATO and European Command commander Joseph Ralston as Special Envoy for Countering the Kurdistan Workers Party, which position he still holds.
Operational and logistical support rendered the Turkish armed forces in their decades-long war against the PKK and affiliated groups has not been limited to Turkey itself.
Ankara has been conducting regular large-scale incursions and deadly air strikes in Iraq as well. As the latter nation was occupied by the military forces of the U.S., Britain and the Multi-National Force -- Iraq (which consisted overwhelmingly of NATO members, candidates and partners) from 2003 until the end of last year, Turkish attacks inside the country could only have been launched with the knowledge - and the authorization and cooperation - of the U.S. and NATO.