Monday, October 22, 2007
On The Down Low
I mentioned earlier, in relation to the recent PKK attack on Turkish forces that left twelve Turkish soldiers dead and eight missing, that it's the captured soldiers that are more likely to have an inflammatory impact on that situation. So I wasn't at all surprised to note that in the English-language Turkish press, as well as in the Turkish military press briefings, the emphasis has been on the casualties. The only mention I found of the missing soldiers was this paragraph from Today's Zaman:
An intelligence source speaking to Today’s Zaman on condition of anonymity said 10 to 12 soldiers were revealed to have been missing in a headcount after the attack. The source added it was not clear whether they ran away in panic or had been kidnapped.
Even after this deadly attack, I still get the impression that Turkey is ready and willing to exhaust all the possible diplomatic avenues to avoid engaging in a cross-border operation, mainly because it's in no one's interests, least of all their own, to send Turkish forces into northern Iraq. My observation that the captured soldiers turning up in Kurdish hands would increase the odds of such an operation (a reflection that Andrew Sullivan described as "obvious" -- ouch!) was mainly in reference to previous posts to this effect.
I also mentioned that America urgently needs to make this an American issue, even at the risk of getting our hands dirty and stepping on some (Kurdish) toes. It might very well be that no one can actually root out the PKK from their mountain bases in northern Iraq -- not the Kurds, not the Turks, and not us. But if we don't offer some concrete military assistance to at least give the appearance that we're trying to do that, it's hard to imagine the Turks' sitting on their hands for much longer.
Update: Click "Publish", find story. The Turkish military has just confirmed that the 8 soldiers are missing. It also seems that a PKK news outlet has published their names. Better keep those raincoats handy.