(Todayszaman) Iraq announced yesterday it would not send troops to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in its north but vowed to cut supplies to the terrorist group in an attempt to ward off a possible Turkish incursion.
Iraqi Defense Minister Abdel Qader al-Obeidi told lawmakers at an emergency session in Baghdad that Iraq had "no intention" of redeploying badly needed troops from the center and south of the country to carry out such a mission, according to Agence France-Presse. He instead appeared to put the onus on the US military to take action by saying that security in Iraq was the responsibility of the US-led coalition forces.
The special session of the Iraqi parliament was called after an attack by PKK terrorists infiltrating Turkey from Iraq left 12 soldiers dead on Sunday. In addition to al-Obeidi, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and National Security Minister Shirwin al-Waili were updating lawmakers on government moves to prevent the incursion and crackdown on the PKK.
The government says it is determined to take all measures, including a cross-border operation, to stop the PKK's increasing attacks. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who on Sunday rejected Turkish demands for the arrest and return of PKK leaders in northern Iraq, yesterday said he expected the terrorist group to announce a unilateral cease-fire later in the day. "The PKK has decided to declare a cease-fire from their side tonight," he told reporters at Sulaimaniya Airport in Iraq's northern Kurdish region before flying to Baghdad.
On Sunday night, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Talabani for discussions he has held with the PKK, saying the president of a country should not talk to a terrorist group.
As tension grew between Turkey and Iraq, calls for restraint from the international community also increased. In a statement, European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn sided with Turkey but cautioned Ankara against sending troops into Iraq.
"The European Commission expresses its solidarity with Turkey in the fight against terrorism," Rehn said in a brief statement. Yet, it wants to see Turkey and Iraq "tackle this problem through cooperation ... and by respecting international law."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is due to meet Erdogan today in London, also urged Turkey to show restraint in responding to the PKK attacks.
The German government also condemned the PKK's latest attack but called on Turkey to show restraint. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Turkey to "react in a measured way in order to avoid a dangerous destabilization of the region," warning that there is a "fear that this latest provocation could unleash a spiral of violence in the region."
In Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer condemned the attack and said the alliance remains in solidarity against terrorism.
Chief Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh said that Turkey was an "important" player in the region's landscape. "We're very worried about what's happening in that area, and we urge everybody to refrain from violence, but resort to dialogue to solve this issue peacefully," Judeh added.