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Daily Column
US Paper Sun: Turkey Presses Iraq After Attack
2 U.S. Helicopters Crash in Baghdad: Poland Ends Its Iraq Role
By DANIEL W. SMITH 10/05/2008 01:55 AM ET
Further intrigue between Turkey and the PKK puts Iraqis in the middle again, and two helicopters crash in north Baghdad. Other than a book review, not too much else about Iraq in American papers today.

Turkish Problems in Iraq
Turkey pressed neighboring Iraq on Saturday to take action against members of the PKK, (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) the Kurdish rebel group that has fought the Turkish government on and off for decades. This comes after PKK members killed at least 15 Turkish soldiers near a border outpost, and possibly captured two, in the rebels' single deadliest attack against Turkish forces this year.

The PKK are based in southeastern Turkey and also in northern Iraq, where they have a series of mountain bases along the Turkish and Iranian borders. Earlier in the year, Turkey led a week-long ground offensive in northern Iraq, and has been bombing and shelling areas of North Iraq for over a year. The latest cross border bombings within Iraq took place earlier this week, and PKK sources say that these bombings were the reason for their attack against the Turkish soldiers. The word on the street is that another major Turkish offensive against the PKK is soon likely within Iraq’s borders.

Ellen Knickmeyer of the Washington Post writes...
Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called off state trips abroad so they could discuss their response to the attack. Erdogan attended emergency talks Saturday night with top army generals and cabinet ministers. ...Calling the rebels traitors, parliament speaker Koksal Toptan told reporters in Ankara, "We have no doubt that they will receive the answer they deserve in the harshest way."

...Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its officials had contacted Iraqi authorities to renew requests that they move against the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. "We expect the government of our neighbor Iraq to fulfill its responsibilities," the Foreign Ministry said.
Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said "The Iraqi government calls upon the Turkish government to deal with this terrorist activity with prudence and self-restraint, so as to not allow the enemies of Iraq and Turkey to achieve their goal." Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times files a shorter article about the situation from Istanbul, but includes some additional information.
Necati Ozgen, a retired general who has been in charge of the Aktutun base, said that assailants must have entered through Iraq, since the military base faces the small village right by the border and has unattainable high mountains behind it.

“There seems to be a major intelligence failure,” Mr. Ozgen said in an interview on Turkey’s NTV television. “It is impossible for a large group to reach as far as the base, before the villagers or village guards notice them.”

The border post, Aktutun Gendarmerie Station, has been attacked frequently in the past, most recently in May. NTV reported that 20 soldiers were killed in a major battle there in September 1992, when the war was deadlier.

Semdinli has also been the scene of violence in which the Turkish military has been incriminated. Several members of a paramilitary force are suspects in a bomb attack inside a bookstore in the largely Kurdish town in 2005. Turkey’s former top military commander, Yasar Buyukanit, acknowledged knowing one of the suspects, who had served under his command, describing him as a “good fellow.”
From Baghdad
Two American Black Hawk helicopters crashed Saturday evening in northern Baghdad, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding two Iraqi soldiers and three American soldiers. American officials say that they do not think enemy fire was the cause. Alissa J. Rubin of the New York Times provides the details.
Local Iraqi police officers said the tail of one of the helicopters caught fire before it crashed and that there was shooting from the surrounding area when it went down. The crash occurred at about 9 p.m., near Adhamiya, a Sunni neighborhood, and Sadr City, which is Shiite. Afterward, helicopters zoomed overhead, dropping flares.
Ernesto Londoño of the Washington Post has the bare facts.

The second part of the Times story goes on to report that Poland’s military mission in Iraq was ceremonially brought to a close on Saturday, and its remaining 900 soldiers are expected to be home by the end of October.

The New York Times’s James Traub writes a positive review of “Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq” by Linda Robinson.
Linda Robinson’s “Tell Me How This Ends” is the first book about this new Iraq. It’s a first-rate piece of work, probing and conscientious, though reading a good-news book about one of America’s all-time bad-news stories can take some getting used to. The Iraq calamity has been a colossal boon to journalists, and the scenes that Robinson’s predecessors have etched into readers’ minds combine equal elements of tragedy and farce. The hopelessly unprepared Jay Garner, the first head of civilian reconstruction, cheerfully informing a group of anxious sheiks that they’re on their own — that’s the Iraq we know. Robinson forces us to look again.
President Bush and other civilian VIPs make appearances in the book, but the focus is on the U.S. military, and the counterinsurgency methods of Gen. Petraeus in particular. Asthe title might suggest, it is Petraeus who Robinson gives reigning credit for the security gains in Iraq.

Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, no Sunday editions.


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