WKI Press Release
February 26, 2008
Washington, D.C. – The President of Washington Kurdish Institute, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, urged the government of Turkey to withdraw its troops from Iraqi Kurdistan and immediately cease military attacks that infringe on the sovereignty of Iraq. Dr. Karim emphasized the need for Turkey to finally address the underlying causes of the cross-border violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups. Unilateral Turkish action poses a serious threat to the most peaceful and successful part of Iraq, the Kurdistan Region, which has provided a haven from terrorist violence for thousands of refugees from elsewhere in the country. His statement responds to the Turkish military incursion within the last week, which has already caused considerable damage to civilian infrastructure, including four key bridges.
Dr. Karim said: “Turkey should immediately withdraw from the Kurdistan Region, as the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad and the KRG have demanded. The unilateral attacks by Turkish forces only impose destruction and hardship on civilians, and threaten to destabilize the only truly secure part of Iraq. This violation of Iraqi sovereignty must not continue. Turkey is undermining the work that five successive United States administrations have put into Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991.”
Dr. Karim added: “Military solutions to the PKK will ultimately fail, as they always have in the past. Primarily, the PKK is a domestic Turkish issue. Turkey has a history of repressive policies toward its Kurdish people. Once and for all, Turkey should take genuine responsibility for its Kurdish citizens. Turkey will only succeed in eradicating the PKK when it adopts a political solution. Turkey should heed the advice of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who has said that non-military initiatives are essential in these circumstances.”
“The international community should support the sovereignty of Iraq and should insist that Iraq’s neighbors respect its territorial integrity. The international community should condemn Turkey’s action as a serious breach of peace and security in the Middle East. Turkey’s aggression is reminiscent of actions by repressive Middle Eastern states in the past, rather than a state aspiring to become a member of the European Union.”
Dr. Karim concluded: “The international community should follow the calls of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the European Union, and demand an immediate withdrawal of Turkish forces from the Kurdistan Region and an unequivocal end to these attacks. The KRG has suggested four-party engagement on the issue of the PKK between Ankara, Erbil, Baghdad, and the United States—an initiative that Turkey has repeatedly obstructed. I also urge the United States, as the leader of the coalition forces responsible for security in Iraq, to take a clear stand against this illegal incursion and to restrain Turkey from further acts of destruction.”