Washington Babylon — December 17, 2007, 11:48 am

How Much American Support for Turkish Air Strike?

“Turkey yesterday launched the biggest attack on Iraq since the US invasion in 2003, sending more than 50 warplanes to bomb suspected Kurdish insurgent bases inside Iraqi territory,” the Guardian reported this morning. “The strike, carried out in the middle of the night, sent hundreds of families fleeing and added to the volatility of a region once considered Iraq’s most peaceful but now threatened with the prospect of a major showdown between Turkish forces and the PKK Kurdish rebels.”

The United States, the head of Turkey’s military was quoted as saying, had “opened Iraqi airspace to us” and in doing so “gave its approval to the operation.” In reply, a U.S. official told the Guardian, “We have not approved any decision. It is not for us to approve. However, we were informed before the [air strikes].” Citing a press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, CNN International said that the United States had been told about the plans for the strikes but “reiterated that it is Turkey’s decision on whether to carry out such actions.”

This morning I received an email from an always insightful and well-connected former U.S. government official working in Kurdistan. Below is an excerpt from his email, which has been edited for length and clarity. The official’s assessment of the damage on the ground, which comes from local sources, agrees with early news reports. The Turks, meanwhile, insist that the air strikes successfully targeted the PKK.

The blowback here in Kurdistan is building against the U.S. government because of its help with the Turkish air strikes. The theme is shock and betrayal. The Kurds see themselves as the only true friend of the Americans in the region, and the only part of Iraq that is working, and are especially hurt by the attack.

The Turks are of course emphasizing that the U.S. Air Force was heavily involved in the attack. They are reveling in this turn of events. They have tried since the first Gulf War to impede or rupture the U.S. relationship with the Kurds. Since March of 2003, they have redoubled their efforts. The key factor in the air strike is what they hit–it wasn’t a collection of PKK fighters, it was a series of small mountain villages, widely disbursed, some as far as 70 kilometers inside of Kurdistan. The people killed and wounded were villagers, not PKK fighters or support people.

The initial explanation from Washington that the United States did not authorize the Turkish strike is bullshit, and every Kurd here knows it. The U.S. Air Force controls and authorizes the movement of every aircraft in, through, or around here. For Washington to say they didn’t authorize the strike, or to use some other doublespeak bullshit Washington term, just makes people here more angry.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells
Article
Interesting Facts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My husband is forty-six. I am forty-five. He does not think that, in my forties, after cancer, chemotherapy, and chemically induced menopause, I can get pregnant again, but sisters, I know my womb. It’s proven.”
Photograph by McNair Evans
Post
Kid Chocolate’s Place·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Cuban eyes often look close to tears.”
Illustration by the author
Article
Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If you short-circuit the bottom, you threaten the entire cycle,” Joye told me. “Without a healthy ocean, we’ll all be dead.”
Illustration by John Ritter

Length in days of the sentence Russian blogger Alexei Navalny served for leading an opposition rally last year:

15

Israeli researchers developed software that evaluates the depression of bloggers.

A teenager in Singapore was convicted of obscenity for posts critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding father, that included an image of Lee having sex with Margaret Thatcher.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today