Turkish parliament approves motion for cross-border operation into Iraq

By Xinhua

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Ankara : Turkish parliament on Wednesday approved the motion submitted by the government for cross-border military operations in fight against the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan announced after the voting that the parliament passed the motion by 507 votes to 19.

A total of 526 lawmakers participated in the voting after hearing a debate over the motion.

The motion empowers the government to order the military forces to cross into northern Iraq to pursue the PKK rebels who take shelter there during the next one-year period.

However, the passage of the motion set the U.S. administration’s nerves on edge as U.S. President George W. Bush urged immediately Turkey not to take cross-border military action into Iraq.

“We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don’t think it is in their interests to send troops into Iraq. Actually, they have troops already stationed in Iraq … We don’t think it’s in their interests to send more troops in,” Bush told a news conference in the United States.

Apart from the United States, another world power Russia also voiced its opposition to Turkish military operation in Iraq.

Russia’s Duma (lower house of parliament) Tuesday called on Turkey not to launch an offensive against the PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, citing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was a “gross violation of international law,” a lesson.

Turkey should “evaluate all possible negative consequences of across-border operation and display wisdom and restraint,” lawmakers in the Duma said in a resolution.

Just hours before the parliamentary voting on the motion, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called Erdogan to pledge to ending the presence and activities of the PKK his country.

The Iraqi government “is absolutely determined to end the activities and the presence of the PKK terrorist organization on Iraqi territory,” Turkey’s Anatolia news agency quoted Maliki assaying.

Asking for “another chance” for his country, Maliki said his government has given a strict order to the Kurdish autonomous regional administration in the north of Iraq to that end and a special delegation was formed for the issue.

In response, Erdogan said he could meet with the Iraqi delegation but stressed his country could not “endure any further loss of time.”

He reiterated to his Iraqi counterpart Turkey’s resolution towards taking any measure against the terrorist organization.

The pressures from varied countries, including the United States, can not budge Turkey’s will to eradicate the PKK, a thorn in its flesh.

Addressing before the parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday, Erdogan strongly refuted those opposition voices. He said “those who cannot tell terrorists to stop acts of terror have no right to tell us not to launch a cross-border operation.”

The PKK has increased its attacks on government troops in southeastern Turkey, which led to rising Turkish demands for an incursion into northern Iraq to crush the rebels based there.

The group, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, launched an armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in the mainly Kurdish southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking decades of strife that has claimed more than 30,000 lives.