Not that it's any surprise, but this won't improve Turkish tempers any:
The top U.S. military commander in northern Iraq said Friday he plans to do ``absolutely nothing'' to counter Kurdish rebels operating from the region and staging deadly cross-border attacks into Turkey.Mixon also revealed that his command doesn't even bother to develop intelligence on PKK movements and supply lines.
...But amid feverish diplomatic efforts to forestall an incursion, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said it's not the U.S. military's responsibility to act. He said that he's sent no additional U.S. troops to the area and he's not tracking hiding places or logistics activities of the PKK rebels.
He also has not seen Kurdish authorities move against the rebels either, Mixon told Pentagon reporters by videoconference from a U.S. base near Tikrit in northern Iraq.
``I have not seen any overt action (by Kurdish authorities) ... But those are the types of activities that are managed and coordinated at higher levels than my own,'' he said.
This confirms what critics have been saying all along - it isn't just inability but unwillingness to deal with the PKK terror group that has caused the Bush administration to stick its collective head in the sand for a year and more. Mixon made it clear he has no instructions at all regarding the PKK or even regarding a possible Turkish invasion.
Mixon would not even talk in general about the PKK's fighting abilities. He was asked why such a small group of some 3,500 guerrillas is considered so effective, tenacious and threatening to Turkey.Meanwhile, Turkey is showing - it seems to me - extraordinary patience with its supposed NATO ally and its supposedly friendly neighbour. It has even given Iraq a very diplomatic chance to actually say something that isn't just platitudinous.
"I have no idea," he said. "You'll have to ask somebody in the Turkish government."
Asked if he is planning any action against the rebels, Mixon said:
Does he think he has any responsibility to try to avoid a Turkish incursion into the north? "I have not been given any requirements or any responsibility for that," he said.
But if terrorists are operating in his region, came another question, why not get involved?
"Let me put it to you very clearly," he answered. The provincial Kurdish authorities have their own Peshmerga militia, Mixon and, "it's their responsibility" in three northern provinces of Iraq.
He said no one has specifically told him to ignore the rebel problem, "But I hadn't been given instructions to do anything about it, either."
If he were ordered to do something, would he have enough U.S. troops?
"That's a hypothetical question," Mixon replied. "I haven't studied it.
"I haven't been given any instructions that would even vaguely resemble what you just mentioned," the general said. "So I don't see any sense in talking about it."
Turkey demanded the extradition of Kurdish rebel leaders based in Iraq's north on Friday, Turkish deputy prime minister said Friday after meeting with an Iraqi delegation.If Iraq would only say publicly that these 153 terrorists were at least arrestable and extraditable, it would be more than the say-nothing pleasantries the Iraqi government has employed so far. To date, they've asked the PKK to cease fire and said they'll ask again if the PKK don't. Maybe in green pen.
...``We gave a list of PKK leaders and asked for help from Iraq,'' Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek told CNN-Turk television.
CNN-Turk television, citing unnamed Iraqi officials, said Turkey asked for the extradition of 153 PKK members.
Given the circumstances, it is not at all surprising that Turkey is taking a "belt and braces" approach - entertaining diplomatic discussions while at the same time building up its 100,000 strong invasion force on the Iraqi border and conducting cross-border probes.
Update The latest round of talks lasted just 90 minutes.
ANKARA (Thomson Financial) - Talks here between Turkish and Iraqi ministers to avoid military action by Ankara in northern Iraq were interrupted after an hour and a half.Sounds to me like the Turks walked out in disgust.
It was not immediately known if and when they would resume, an Iraqi embassy official said.