Posts Tagged PKK

US drones continue to aid Turkey against Kurds

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.

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Turkish Use of Drones in Kurdistan

In 2007  it was reported in Haaretz that Israeli drones were being leased to Turkey for use against Kurds of the PKK in Northern Iraq (Kurdistan), using Israeli crews.

Haaretz reported separately that the Israeli supplier of Heron drones for use in Iraqi Kurdistan was also providing Israeli crews to operate them. It was reported that Heron drones were being used to target PKK rebels in northern Iraq in an offensive in December 2007. This was apparently due to the delay in IAI and Elbit providing Turkey with Heron drones as part of a contract made in 2005.

” “The delays have left the TuAF critically short of UAVs when intelligence input from those valuable reconnaissance assets are exceedingly required,” the Turkish military official was quoted as saying.

According to the Turkish newspaper, the presence of the Israeli crews is an interim solution that was offered following the delay in the delivery of the UAVs.

There is relatively little information easily accessible that describes the use of drones in Kurdistan by Turkey. This is hardly surprising due to the sensitive nature of the conflict where Turkey attacks forces in another country, and the alleged use of Israeli crews to operate these drones.

No doubt the reason Turkey wants its own drones is to make it independent of the US for intelligence about Kurdish rebels. In the actions against the Kurds in 2008 Turkey relied on intelligence from US sources, including drones over nothern Iraq, but this made them dependent on the US for information.

In 2008, Associated Press reported that a Turkish drone (a Heron leased from Israel) crashed in Kurdistan.

In January, 2010, an Iranian source reported that Turkey was about to take delivery of 4 Heron drones from Israel, and that Turkish ‘experts’ were in Israel testing them.

At about the same time, al Bawaba reported that Israeli Turkish relations were being mended and that 7 of 13 joint military projects were being complete. The newly delivered Israeli drones would be used to monitor Kurdish separatist hideouts in northern Iraq.

In February, 2010 Kurdmedia.com reported comments by Ahmed Deniz of the PKK that Turkey had demanded a drone from the US in return for increasing its role in Afghanistan. Kurdnet reported that Deniz said that this drone would be used against the PKK.

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