Separatist leader pledges resistance on eve of Turkish vote to sanction Iraq cross-border raid.
“I think it is pretty difficult to say troops shouldn’t [invade] when the Turkish soldiers are being killed, and their villages attacked”
Celtic, Karlstad, Sweden
There had been some uneasiness among ruling party MPs and some abstentions could have come from MPs from the Kurdish southeast, he said
George Bush, the US president, strongly urged Turkey not to carry out cross-border strikes.
“We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don’t think it is in their interests to send troops into Iraq,” he said at a White House news conference on Wednesday.
“There’s a better way to deal with the issue than having the Turks send massive troops into the country – massive additional troops into the country,” the president said.
In a telephone conversation on Wednesday before the vote, Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, had told Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, that Baghdad was “absolutely determined” to end the presence of Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
He assured Erdogan that he had given orders to the autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq to take action against the PKK.
Turkey’s Anatolia state news agency said al-Maliki had also asked for “a new opportunity” to help resolve the issue through diplomatic means and proposed talks.
Erdogan was said to have responded that he was willing to meet Iraqi officials to discuss the issue, but warned that Ankara would not tolerate “further waste of time”, the agency said.
Turkey and Iraq signed an accord last month to combat the PKK but failed to agree on a clause allowing Turkish troops to engage in “hot pursuit” against fighters fleeing into Iraqi territory as they did regularly in the 1990s.
Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, had earlier added his voice to those urging Turkey not to launch an attack against the PKK in Iraq following a meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, on Wednesday.
Talabani said: “We hope the wisdom of our friend Prime Minister Erdogan will be so active that there will be no military intervention.”
|Iraq’s president has urged Turkey not to
attack the PKK in northern Iraq [AFP]
The Iraqi president said his country wanted to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
“We are ready to co-operate with the Turkish authorities and we are for activating the committee formed by America, Turkey and Iraq to solve this problem.
“We consider the activities of the PKK against the interests of the Kurdish people and against the interests of Turkey.
“We have asked the PKK to stop fighting and end military activity,” he said.
The autonomous Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq had warned Turkish MPs on Wednesday that the vote to authorise an armed incursion would be illegal.
Jamal Abdullah, a regional government spokesman, said: “If the Turkish parliament gives the authorisation to the army to enter another country, we consider this illegal and a violation of international law and the United Nations’ charter.”
Mahmud Othman, a senior Kurdish politician, said: “PKK members are present in the Kurdistan region but the regional government is preventing them from carrying out any attacks against Turkish targets.
“The Iraqi government is taking a position of giving in to Turkey. The military is not a solution; it will worsen the situation.
Othman said that the Turkish government had refused a proposal from the Iraqi Kurdish government to offer an amnesty to PKK fighters.
Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, has backed Turkey in its tough stance against the PKK.
On a visit to Turkey on Wednesday, al-Assad said: “Without a doubt, we support the decisions taken by the Turkish government against terrorism and we accept them as a legitimate right of Turkey.”
Opposition to a Kurdish state has pushed Turkey closer to Syria and Iran, with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Syria signing an agreement on boosting economic, political, security and energy co-operation during al-Assad’s trip.
In an exclusive interview on Tuesday, Murat Karayilan, the head of PKK operations in northern Iraq, told Al Jazeera that the group would confront Turkish forces if they attacked.
Karayilan said: “If Turkey is going to use violence against our movement, our leader and our people, then we will respond.
Speaking from his camp in the Qandil mountains straddling the Iraq-Turkey border, he said: “It seems Turkey is preparing for an attack, then we have to resist.”