The US has again helped Turkey with its war against the Kurds by supplying them with four Predator drones. The Predators will be controlled from an air base in Nevada (presumably Creech), and the images obtained will be processed in the US and forwarded to the Turkish army. Thus the Turks will not have access to real time images at the present time. The Predators will be flown from Incirlik air base in Turkey, and directed over Kurdish positions in Iraqi territory.
Turkey wanted access to the Predator drones presumably because five of the ten Heron drones purchased from Israel are undergoing maintenance in Israel. Relations between Turkey appear to have deteriorated so badly that the Daily Beast has reported that some players in Israel may be considering supporting the outlawed PKK in its war against Turkey.
It’s obviously not the first time that Predators have flown over Iraqi Kurdistan, and certainly not the first time they have aided Turkey. But this movement of the Predators to a base in Turkey marks an escalation of US assistance to Turkey in its fight against Kurds seeking to establish an independent Kurdistan.
The Turkish government also wants to purchase MQ9 Reapers, a more modern version of the Predator but this may be forestalled by congressional opposition, due to the deteriorating relations between Turkey and America’s closer ally Israel.
It’s possible that the Predator deal may be a ‘Trojan Horse’. Some have noted that Predators flying over Turkish territory on their return from Iraq could as easily be spying on Turkey, since Turks do not have control over them. This illustrates the complex diplomatic environment the US finds itself in, as it tries to balance its interest among various warring allies.
Defense News notes that Turkey has become dependent on US supplied aerial intelligence in its war on the Kurds, no doubt increased by the fact that its use of Israeli suppplied drones is now curtailed. Turkey has countered this apparent deficit by creating its own drone program, the ANKA, which has not yet been built.
Meanwhile in other news, some people allege that the PKK may have downed an Israeli Heron drone operated by the Israeli military. The drone crashed in the Mediterreanean in Turkish waters and was recovered by Turkey.
The prime beneficiaries of all this appear to be the arms companies. The losers are the civilians of border areas of Kurdistan.