Tuesday, November 13, 2007
You remember those eight Turkish soldiers who were taken prisoner by the PKK in an attack three weeks ago? The incident raised Turkish-Iraqi border tensions to crisis level and precipitated an urgent American effort to defuse the situation. The eight were eventually released after being held two weeks in Irbil (so much for the PKK not operating with impunity in Iraqi Kurdistan), a release negotiated by representatives from the US, Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government.
But yesterday, after a weeklong military investigation, they were arrested and charged by a Turkish court martial with disobeying orders. Two were additionally charged with "desertion to a foreign country" (hard to understand since Turkey adamantly opposes any claims of the Kurds to nation status), and one also saw a charge of "not fulfilling the necessities of civil duty". They face a minimum of five and a maximum of twenty years in prison.
There's been suggestions that the charges are based on the soldiers' Kurd ethnicity. The entire episode seems to suggest that whatever happens with regard to the PKK crisis, the underlying tensions between Turkey and its Kurdish minority (to say nothing of Iraq's, Syria's and Iran's) are from being resolved.