Turkey and the Obama administration will step up their fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as the U.S. completes its military withdrawal from Iraq, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said.
The Turkish-U.S. battle against the PKK, which both countries list as a terrorist group, will “continue in a much more powerful manner,” Gul said in a video on his website after he met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Ankara today. “His meetings in Iraq on this matter are very decisive,” Gul said.
Biden visited U.S. troops and political leaders in Iraq, which shares a border with southern Turkey, before arriving in Turkey late yesterday. The PKK has its command center in northern Iraq’s mountains. The U.S. seeks to strengthen the three-way security collaboration with Turkey and Iraq.
“We are consulting closely with Turkey on how we can provide additional help in the future” to end PKK attacks, Biden told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper in written responses to questions before his arrival. “As the majority of U.S. forces have already withdrawn from Iraq, we do not expect that the security environment in northern Iraq will change dramatically.”
The U.S. has agreed to sell Turkey three Super Cobra military helicopters to use against the PKK. The U.S. also transferred four Predator drones from Iraq to Turkey’s airbase in Incirlik, and the U.S. stands “strongly” with Turkey to combat the PKK, Biden’s national security adviser, Antony Blinken, told reporters before the vice president left for Iraq.
Turkey has been carrying out airstrikes in northern Iraq and sent special forces across the border after the PKK killed more than 30 Turkish soldiers and policemen in October in the deadliest attacks since the 1990s. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the president of the regional government, Massoud Barzani, said his administration will pressure the PKK to end attacks in Turkey, Turkey’s NTV news channel reported yesterday.
Biden is scheduled to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his Istanbul home tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. local time, a spokesman for the premier said today in a telephone interview. Erdogan is recovering from a Nov. 26 digestive tract operation and won’t be leaving his residence to attend tomorrow’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit, where he was initially scheduled as a keynote speaker along with Biden.