Saturday, June 12, 2010

Turkey, Hamas and the PKK

Wall Street Journal
11 June '10
Posted before Shabbat

The Middle East's regional superpower has again deployed its air force to bomb a rebel group considered by some to be terrorists and by others to be freedom fighters. Another Israeli air strike on Gaza? Not quite.

The attacker is the Turkish air force, which on Monday bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq for the second time in a month. The PKK, or "Kurdistan Workers' Party," has been fighting Ankara for more than 25 years to carve out an independent Kurdistan. Its ideology is a mishmash of Maoism, nationalism and, more recently, Islamism. Its methods are guerrilla warfare, hostage taking, drug trafficking and terrorism. Tens of thousands of Turks have been killed in the fighting.

So it is with good reason that Turkey will neither recognize nor negotiate with the PKK, much less accept the legitimacy of its cause. And while some European governments have gone wobbly over the PKK, the U.S. has been stalwart in siding with Ankara. So has Israel, which over the years has provided Turkey with military and counterterrorist assistance.

Israel has enemies similar to the PKK, including Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, and it has dealt with them in similar ways. Successive Israeli governments have also accepted the legitimacy of a Palestinian state, which is more than can be said for the Turkish government's attitude toward an independent Kurdistan.

Turkish governments once understood this, as they understood the benefits of siding with the West and Israel against regional radicals. Not so current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has taken up the anti-Israel banner with a relish befitting his new friends in Tehran and Damascus. The Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla last week has given Mr. Erdogan another chance to vent against the Jewish state and champion Hamas. However well Mr. Erdogan's dalliance with Islamic extremists plays at home, the world can plainly see his double standard.

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