Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE KIRKUK FIASCO....Juan Cole is suspicious about the timing of the recent Turkish raids on Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq, which came just as Condoleezza Rice was flying to Kirkuk to meet with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani — a meeting that was angrily cancelled after Barzani learned about the raids:

Was Rice's trip to Iraqi Kurdistan Deliberately Sabotaged?

....Look, it is absolutely impossible that Condi plans out a trip to Kirkuk and a meeting with Barzani with full knowledge that while she is there, Turkey will send 500 Turkish soldiers into northern Iraq to occupy the villages of Kaya Retch Binwak, Janarok and Gelly Resh. Or even that when she set out on her trip, she knew that Turkey was planning to bomb Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday, killing 3, wounding 8, and displacing 300 Kurdish villagers....So there are only two possibilities.

Not to keep you in suspense, the two possibilities are (a) a U.S. screwup of fairly monumental proportions or (b) Turkish treachery, possibly including some sympathetic moles inside the State Department. "I'll bet you State is looking into this fiasco as we speak and if you hear fairly soon that someone high in the department (or another department who has similar clearances) suddenly resigns to spend more time with his family, you can reasonably speculate that he was the source of a leak to [Turkish chief of staff Yasar] Buyukanit — if indeed there was one."

Kevin Drum 2:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Why would anyone in the Bush regime want to make Rice look bad? It reflects back on the Presidency.

And BTW, Frist!

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 19, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

It could also have been a leak from within the military. There must have been plenty of logistical digging in front to get Condi to Kirkuk. Remember that there is an American Air Force Base in Turkey. There are bound to be many personal connections there.

Posted by: bemused on December 19, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we've armed Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkey, etc, basically every player in the region, including Iran, if you go back to the St. Ronnie days. Statistically there's bound to be some embarrassing killing going on at the wrong time, where we're kind of implicated on both sides. It's a wonder it doesn't happen more often.

Posted by: Trypticon on December 19, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Or should I say that it reflects badly on her "husband".

I think it's the Turks acting in what they perceive is their best interest and to hell with what Washington or anyone else feels about the matter.

BTW, have the Kurdish forces killed any unarmed civilians? If not, then why the hell are they being called "terrorists" rather than "army"?

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on December 19, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

From the Washington Post:

(quote)

U.S. military personnel have set up a center for sharing intelligence in Ankara, the Turkish capital, providing imagery and other immediate information gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the separatists' mountain redoubts, the officials said. A senior administration official said the goal of the U.S. program is to identify the movements and activities of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is fighting to create an autonomous enclave in Turkey.

The United States is "essentially handing them their targets," one U.S. military official said. The Turkish military then decides whether to act on the information and notifies the United States, the official said.

"They said, 'We want to do something.' We said, 'Okay, it's your decision,' " the official said yesterday, although he denied that the United States had explicitly approved the strikes.

(end quote)

Shooting themselves in the foot has not been a rarity in this administration. Why should this be any different? Why would the CIA and DIA feel the need to clear anything with the State department, especially considering how many times the State department has been in the back seat (or not even in the car) in this Iraq adventure?

Posted by: Neal on December 19, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

The PKK terrorists have, over the past two decades, have killed over 30,000 Turks, some unarmed civilians. That is the equivalent of ten September 11 attacks, in a country with a population of 71 million.

I have seen their handiwork with my own eyes, and those bastards get no sympathy from me.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Turkish bombings of N Iraq were done with the full knowledge and support of the US.

Posted by: Disputo on December 19, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

And as for Condi? She is "an errand girl, sent by grocery clerks."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

By any measure, Kindasleezy Rice is an abject failure as Secretary of State. Before joining government as George W. Bush's concubine, her supposed field of expertise was "Soviet Affairs" and look at what has happened to our relationship with Russia - it is in the toilet. Some expert. She is a talentless hack, just like 95% of the Bush Administration.

When her lesbian past becomes front page news, the right-wing nutters will dump Rice like a load of contaminated collared greens. She should have stuck to playing the piano and being a shill for the large multinational oil companies.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 19, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, Disputo - the US gave them real-time intel.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

She and Gates both blew it in the waning days of the Soviet empire. They missed all the signs and ignored the intel community that practically called the date and time of the collapse. (Which is another reason I trust the intel community on the Iran NIE instead of these morons.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 19, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Look, it is absolutely impossible that Condi plans out a trip to Kirkuk and a meeting with Barzani with full knowledge that while she is there, Turkey will send 500 Turkish soldiers into northern Iraq

Why is it impossible? Hasn't it been proved time and time again that Condi Rice is a 4 alarm idiot?

Posted by: MNPundit on December 19, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, I love a good round of Condi-bashing as much as the next leftie, but in this case it strikes me as missing the obvious.

Cheney and his minions at the Pentagon have been trying to undermine Condi since day one; rather than chalking this up to another episode of Condincompetence, I think it's more likely that Cheney suggested the bombing date to the Turks.

Posted by: Disputo on December 19, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, Disputo.

Cheney and Bush view the State Department as an annoying distraction or scapegoat. Nothing more.

Posted by: cowalker on December 19, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

WE DON'T GIVE A FLYING F%^& ABOUT IRAQ.

Posted by: sdfa on December 19, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

If you schedule enough 'surprise' visits, something embarrassing like this is bound to happen.

Posted by: Tom Veil on December 19, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. has been giving real time aerial surveillance to the Turks and has sent Special Forces teams into the area to help the Turks, so there are no surprises here.

Probably just trying to find a balance between hypocrisy and pacifying allies.

If we simply harbor and protect the terrorists from the Turks, we appear Taliban like, which is bad for the Bush anti-terrorist image and offends the Turks, whereas if we allow the Turks to kill too many Kurds, we risk more instability in Iraq, so a compromise is to give the Turks a hunting license to kill a certain number of PKK during hunting season.

Posted by: Luther on December 19, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

There's a commenter over at Cole's place who I think might be on to something with this story: it's entirely possible that the Turkish operation and Rice's trip were intended to coincide, as a way of strong-arming the Kurds into making some important concessions over federalism and the status of Kirkuk. "See?" was the message, "we have the ability to cause big headaches for you if we choose to do so, so let's cut the bull here..." Of course, Rice has a sterling record of being able to expertly negotiate Mideast politics, so this plan definitely won't completely backfire and cause myriad problems down the road that will be ten-times harder to fix than they would have been without all the needless provocation.

Posted by: jonas on December 19, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Ricy, nobody respects her in all those foreign intelligent circles. But hey, I bet loyal Bushism GOPers can still bounce a quarter off her ass.

Posted by: me-again on December 19, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

News reports have said, and common sense confirms, that the Turks gave the US advance notice before entering US-controled Iraqi airspace. Unless you want to conclude that our relations with Turkey have degenerated to the point of Turkey being willing to risk a shoting war with us in order to strike at the Kurds, you have to conclude that these raids were made with US foreknowledge and at least tacit consent.

Posted by: rea on December 19, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

How about: (c) We need the supply routes to remain open from Turkey because 70% of the stuff we need for the Iraqi occupation comes through Turkey. So the Kurds get screwed by us yet again.

Turkey Gets a Free Hand in Iraq

"Toying with the Kurds - then abandoning them - is not new to the United States. In 1974, Henry Kissinger encouraged Iraqi Kurds to riot against their government in order to drain the energy of the Iraqi army and divert Baghdad's attention from supporting Syria's efforts to combat Israel."

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 19, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Listen, someone had to make a decision on the Turkey situation sooner of later. I guess they came down on Turkey's side. We do need those bases for deliveries into Iraq. Turkey, which uses american combat aircraft almost certainly had to warn the Air Force that they were going into Iraq. Can you image if they didn't? The State Department is doing so bad, they got to have Gates push for a increase in their budget.

Posted by: james b on December 19, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe the US came down on both sides, James. First, we have to understand that the PKK (being Turkish Kurds) are illegal aliens in Iraq as well as a terrorist organization. With the US telling the Turks where 3 of the PKK cells were, the Turkish Air Force could then concentrate their fire on specific areas where the PKK are know to be with less collateral damage to Iraqi civilians.

Barzini now has finally gotten the message that neither Turkey nor the US will put up with him harboring the PKK in Iraq. The PKK, BArzini, & the local civilians harboring the PKK now have choices to make.

Posted by: bob in fla on December 20, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Barzini now has finally gotten the message that neither Turkey nor the US will put up with him harboring the PKK in Iraq

So much for Iraq being a sovereign country....

Posted by: Disputo on December 20, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

Can you spell I-S-R-A-E-L? They're on very good terms with the Turks, both countries want a hardline US policy on terrorism, and both countries are presently aggrieved with the US (with the NIE and the PKK).

Posted by: toto on December 20, 2007 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Dick Cheney is simply shocked to hear of these unforeseen developments...

Posted by: Tim B. on December 20, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

TkhgCQ comment3 ,

Posted by: Spfkmycn on June 28, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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