Turkey and Iraq on Friday signed an agreement to fight against
terrorism, but still differed over Turkey's military incursion into
northern Iraq to strike bases of the outlawed Kurdish Workers'
Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay and his visiting Iraqi
counterpart Jawad al-Bulani signed the counter-terrorism agreement,
though the two sides were unable to reach a consensus on the 4th
article which envisages "hot pursuit" of PKK elements in northern
Iraq, said concerned Turkish sources.
The agreement stresses the will of both countries to fully
implement concerned UN Security Council resolutions on
Both countries also affirmed that they are responsible to judge
the people who support and participate in financing, planning,
preparing and implementing activities of terrorist organization on
the basis of "judge or extradite" principle.
The pact, however, falls short of meeting Ankara's demand to
send troops in pursuit of PKK rebels fleeing across the border into
northern Iraq, Turkish private NTV television said.
The deal came a day after Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan urged the United States to act against Kurdish rebels,
warning that continued inaction was harming U.S. ties with its NATO
Atalay told a joint press conference with al-Bulani after the
signing ceremony that the two countries will maintain negotiations
as "it was not possible to reach a deal (now) on an article about
strengthening of security and cooperation in border regions and
advancement of measures against terrorist organizations in border
"We believe that the Iraqi government's positive perspective and
will on cooperation in fight against terrorism will contribute to
measures that hinder activities of the terrorist organization PKK
which is particularly carrying out its activities in north of
Iraq," he added.
According to the Turkish official, he and al-Bulani discussed
ways to hinder activities of the terrorist organizations,
particularly the PKK, and the two countries' cooperation in this
regard as well as Turkey's assistance to train Iraqi security
"The two countries pledged to prevent the use of their
territories by terrorist groups for accommodation, training,
planning and propaganda and for staging terrorist attacks on the
other country," said Atalay.
For his part, al-Bulani expressed that the Iraqi government has
been trying to enhance cooperation with its neighbors as a
multilateral fight is required against terrorism which is a problem
upsetting all countries and societies in the world.
The PKK is one of several terrorist groups in Iraq, many of
which are not of Iraqi origin, al-Bulani said, calling on the
governments of neighboring countries to work together to put an end
to heinous attacks on security forces and civilians.
He stressed that terrorism is a problem upsetting all countries
and societies in the world.
According to the Turkish army in June, among the total of some
5,000 PKK militants, some 2,800-3,100 are based in northern
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the
United States and the European Union, launched an armed campaign
for an ethnic homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey in
1984, sparking decades of strife that has claimed more than 30,000
The group has increased attacks on Turkish troops in
southeastern Turkey in recent months, which led to rising Turkish
demands for an incursion into northern Iraq to crush the rebels
However, the Iraqi side, particularly the Kurds controlling
northern Iraq, fears Turkish army's cross-border incursion could
pave the way for unprompted its military action inside the Iraqi
It insists that if the two sides reach an agreement in this
regard, the agreement must specify that such pursuits could not
take place without a prior permission from the Iraqi
CNN Turk TV channel quoted Kemal Kirkuki, deputy speaker of
Iraq's Kurdish parliament, as saying that any move that would
involve violation of the Iraqi border has to be approved by the
The Iraqi interior minister had no right to sign such an
agreement without approval from the Iraqi national parliament and
the Kurdish parliament in northern Iraq, he stressed.
Al-Bulani arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Tuesday.
His visit is a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
reached by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his
Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki in early August when Maliki
In the MoU, the PKK was declared a terrorist organization, with
Maliki assuring Turkey that Iraq will not allow the presence of
terrorist groups within its borders.
During Maliki's visit, Turkey and Iraq had agreed to crack down
on PKK rebels active in the Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq. But
the embattled Iraqi prime minister was believed to have scant clout
in the Kurdish region to persuade the local Kurds to take actions
against the PKK.
Ankara threatened military incursion into northern Iraq to
strike the PKK base if Baghdad and Washington fail to curb the
Just a day before al-Bulani's arrival in Ankara, a top Turkish
military commander targeted the US in remarks indicating that the
military has little patience left with U.S. inaction over threats
posed by PKK, saying that launching a military operation into Iraq
to crush the PKK remained a viable option for Turkey.
Regarding Turkey's demands on the issue, Washington consistently
says it is committed to jointly working with Turkey in the fight
against the PKK within the framework of a trilateral mechanism
between Ankara, Baghdad and Washington.
Yet Ankara doesn't seem to pin high hopes on the inactive
trilateral mechanism, attributing considerably high importance to a
strong bilateral cooperation with its neighbor on the ground.
By maintaining a legal basis for a cross-border operation or hot
pursuit of PKK terrorists via the eventual counterterrorism
agreement with Iraq, the ongoing fight by Turkish security forces
against the PKK is expected to be made much more effective.
US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said last week during
his visit to Turkey that Ankara should establish "political
dialogue" with Iraqi officials, hinting at the establishment of
dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish administration in particular.
However, Ankara has repeatedly stated that it accepts only the
central Iraqi government as the counterpart for establishing
cooperation in its fight against the PKK based in northern Iraq,
which is autonomously governed by the Iraqi Kurdish leadership.
(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2007)