PKK operation debate rattles old axis in Turkey

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PKK operation debate rattles old axis in Turkey
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Mart 06, 2008 11:17

Turkish General Staff and its traditional allies the opposition parties exchanged harsh words over the ground operation to hunt down the outlawed PKK separatists in northern Iraq.

Haberin Devamı

"The ending of the ground operation had surprised whole world and Turkey... Why Turkey decided to end this when it reached its the most successful (point)? Everybody wonders the answer of this question", Deniz Baykal, leader of main opposition party CHP, said on Tuesday at the party meeting. The nationalist MHP's leader also criticized the General Staff for helping the image of the outlawed separatists by issuing statements that effectively depicted them as worthy opponents.                         

 

However the military rejected on Tuesday opposition politicians' criticism of its handling of a major ground offensive against PKK in northern Iraq. "For the first time in our 24-year struggle against terrorism, the Turkish armed forces have become the target of such meaningless attacks," the General Staff said in a statement posted on its Web site. "These attacks hurt the determination of the Turkish armed forces to fight terror even more than the traitors do," it said, describing the criticism as "unfair and underhand". CHP said on Wednesday in a statement the debate was held democratically.         

 

Haberin Devamı

The statement did not name the critics, but it was clearly aimed at MHP leader Devlet Bahceli, who also said the General Staff had lent to the PKK a certain prestige by speaking of outlawed separatist command centers as if they were a conventional enemy army. Bahceli and his MHP are usually staunch backers of the armed forces and are quick to accuse the Islamic AKP government of lacking respect for soldiers.

 

Bahceli said Wednesday that the government was the responsible party that shouldreply to MHP's political assessments. "The government is the addressee regarding MHP's political assessments. It is the party to respond on this issue and it has the political responsibility," Bahceli said in a written statement.     

 

Haberin Devamı

Observers say such a debate is very rare, noting MHP and CHP are the fierce supporters of a military solution for the PKK problem and the army's role in the process. Moreover CHP sees the army as a proxy against the Islamist policies of the governing AKP.

 

Turkey's military has been thrown on the defensive since last Friday's surprise decision to pull all troops out of Iraq after eight days of often fierce combat with the outlawed PKK separatists in the snow-bound mountains of northern Iraq.

 

The military said the ground operation had achieved its objectives, including the deaths of some 240 PKK members and the destruction or seizure of PKK equipment and facilities. Both the General Staff and the government say Turkey reserves the right to send troops back into northern Iraq against the PKK if this is deemed necessary.

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