US officials have confirmed that the U.S. military opened Iraqi airspace to Turkish jets so that they could bomb Kurdish PKK positions yesterday, and that Washington knew.
Yet no-one thought to tell the Iraqis, a supposedly sovereign state.
In Turkey, a U.S. Embassy official in Ankara said Washington was informed about the operation.As the British quit Basra and plans are made for handing over more US-controlled areas, at least in name, to the Iraqi security forces it's worth remembering that Iraqi operations are still dependent on U.S. goodwill for logistics, fire support and communications - and cannot happen without U.S. approval. Likewise, as has been shown yesterday, everything above treetop height belongs to America and will for the forseeable future.
``It was a Turkish operation, it was a Turkish decision. We were informed,'' the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, as the official was not authorized to speak to the media.
The Iraqi parliament condemned the bombing, calling it an ``outrageous'' violation of Iraq's sovereignty that killed innocent civilians.
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the Iraqi government thought Turkey would coordinate with it before striking the rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, inside Iraq on Sunday. He also indicated that the fact Iraqi civilians were killed showed Turkey had not hit the right target.
...The attack came a month after the U.S. promised to share intelligence with Turkey to help combat the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK and Turkey's military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said U.S. intelligence was used Sunday.
``America gave intelligence,'' Kanal D television quoted Buyukanit as saying. ``But more importantly, America last night opened (the Iraqi) airspace to us. By opening the airspace, America gave its approval to this operation.''
In Washington, a Pentagon official said that the U.S. military has been sharing intelligence with the Turks, but that he did not know exactly what information was given to aid with the airstrikes or when it might have been given.
Another defense official said the U.S. had made sure Turkey would have clear use of the skies to enable the strikes.
They both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said only that; ``The U.S. continues to assist with information to the Turkish government that will help them deal with the insurgent situation that they have up there.''
Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the regional Kurdistan government, said the air raids were ``a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.''
A sovereign nation which has no control over its own territory without foreign approval and isn't even told before that foreign power lets another power's air force trespass into its airspace isn't a sovereign nation at all. That should be an important realisation - that the Bush administration's talk of iraqi self-determination is today conclusively proven as sheerest spin - yet few (if any) American pundits have taken any notice at all.