February 2001

Turkish troops threaten new Middle Eastern war - Appeal to to halt the war danger in Iraqi Kurdistan

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish question

Patrons: Lord Avebury, John Austin MP, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, John Bowis MEP, Julie Christie, Harold Pinter, Noam Chomsky, Arthur Miller
Turkish troops threaten new Middle Eastern war

Appeal to to halt the war danger in Iraqi Kurdistan

While the attention of the world has remained drawn to the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and their increasingly elusive search for a lasting settlement, another great threat to peace in the Middle East has manifested itself in the form of a massive incursion of Turkish troops deep into Northern Iraq. This build up of forces has been taking place since well before Christmas and has to date reached an estimated total of ten thousand armed men. They have been crossing the Iraqi border in small units of about 500 men plus vehicles and are now dispersed across the territory of South Kurdistan known as the ³no fly zone², which remains under UN protection and the administration of the Iraqi Kurdish parties, KDP and PUK. Admittedly there have been repeated incursions in the past of Turkish army units into Northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK guerrillas, but this time the depth of penetration greatly exceeds that in any previous operation: the Turkish army is thought to have advanced more than 300 km into Iraqi territory. They are now working closely with Iraqi Kurdish parties, particularly the PUK whose leader Jalal Talabani has recently returned from Ankara. Indeed Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has claimed that his country¹s troops are merely providing technical support for the PUK and KDP¹s actions to remove the PKK from their land.
The lack of any comment from journalists in the world¹s media or from Western governments on what appears to be a major preparation by Turkey for armed conflict is in itself cause for the gravest disquiet. It is hard to avoid concluding that Europe and America are turning a collective blind eye to Turkey¹s actions because they subscribe toTurkey¹s war aim of eliminating the PKK guerrillas. It it inconceivable of course that Western intelligence agencies are unaware of the unfolding events in this strategically and economically crucial part of the world. Exactly how far the aims of this present operation were detailed in the 1998 Washington Agreement is uncertain. But it is clear that the objective comes at the cost of threatening to embroil the neighbouring states of the region in a new Middle East war. The PKK, who have been standing firmly by their peace proposals and awaiting positive signals from Turkey, have warned that an outbreak of fighting risks spreading uncontrollably throughout the region and inside Turkey itself. This dangerous game plan certainly has high stakes for all concerned. Another sinister aspect is the possibility that Turkey is seeking to establish a more permanent presence in the area. There is even speculation that Turkey is ready to make some deal with Baghdad which would enable Saddam to regain regional control over its sovereign territory.
We believe that Turkey is not simply acting alone in this potentially explosive military campaign and urge all those parties involved to halt their war preparations. We are furthermore issuing this appeal to urge those in responsible positions at the highest level of government in Europe and America to exert their influence to deter Turkey from its present path of confrontation. We also urge Ankara¹s political and military rulers to think again before it is too late and a major Middle Eastern war ensues, with unforeseen consequences.These events are as important for peace in the Middle East as the Palestine-Israel conflict and should be recognised as such by the world¹s media.
There is still time for a peace process to begin with a positive response on all sides and the good offices of international authorities. &n bsp; 3 February 2001

Patrons of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign:

Lord Avebury, John Austin MP, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, John Bowis MEP, Julie Christie, Harold Pinter, Noam Chomsky, Arthur Miller

Other signatories:
Lord Hylton, Cynog Dafis Welsh Assembly AM, Rhodri S Thomas Welsh Assembly AM, Simon Thomas MP, Tony Benn MP, Jermy Corbyn MP (Vice-Chair Parliamentary Human Rights Group), Rudi Vis MP, Sir Peter Lloyd MP, Ken Coates (former chair, sub-committee on Human Rights of the European Parliament), Malcolm Harper (Director United National Assoication), Mr Etherington MP, Dr Mohammed Ahmed (Ahmed Foundation for Kurdish Studies), Hans Branscheidt (Medico International), Roger Tompkins (lawyer), Gareth Peirce (lawyer), Hugo Charlton (lawyer, Green Party Spokesperson for Home Affairs and Human Rights), Jenny Jones (Greater London Authority Assembly Member, Green Party), Eamonn McCann (journalist; chair of Derry and NW Ireland Branch, NUJ), David Morgen (journalist), Susan Raven (journalist), John Haylett (Editor, Morning Star), Alexander Fitch (journalist), Sarah Parker (Socialist Solidarity Network), Hewa Jaff (Liberal Democratic Party), Mr Evgeniou (Lobby for Cyprus), Andreas Gavrilielides (Secretary Greek-Kurdish Solidarity Campaign), George Evgeniou (Articistic director, Theatro Technis), Zinar Hogir (Chair Kurdish Community Centre Croyden). Plus 100 more (26 February 2001)