Erdogan’s games on the backs of Turkish soldiers
On Monday February 8, 2021 Erdogan gave a speech to AKP party members stating that: “On Wednesday I will be addressing the nation and I want you to pay special attention to that statement. I will be sharing some very interesting things”.
By Savvas Kalenteridis
Wednesday came, hours passed by, but Erdogan didn’t give any statements, “Addressing the Nation”.
As the hours passed, the journalists began to wonder. Why isn’t Erdogan making a statement that he himself announced that will be making?
In the early hours of Wednesday, February 10, the Turkish Ministry of Defense launched operation “Pençe Kartal-2” in the Gare mountains region, in the territories of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (northern Iraq).
At 02:55 morning hours, Turkish F-16 fighter jets and assault helicopters began bombing the residential areas of Guzê, Meyrokê, Siyanê, Çemşerîtkê, Yekmalê και Kanîsarkê, in the districts of Deşta Kafya and Deşta Nehlê, where the PKK resistance fighters have their camps.
Immediately after the bombardments, Turkish special forces disembarked in the region, through the assistance of Skorsky helicopters, in order to launch the land invasion part of the operation.
The Turkish Defense Ministry stated on Wednesday that the goal of the attack was to neutralize the PKK’s assault capability and to secure the safety of the borders.
Wednesday went by with no announcements from Erdogan, while the official Turkish Defense Ministry statement said that during the operation, Turkey lost three of its troops. This shows that the Turkish forces had to deal with a heavy and unexpected resistance in the region.
On Thursday, February 11, the Command of the Civil Defense Forces of the Gare Mountain Service (HPG Gare Eyalet Komutanlığı) stated that among the targeted areas, was also a prisoners’ camp, where the Kurdish forces held up prisoners of war such soldiers, policemen and MIT officials, and this camp was also bombarded by the Turkish air force.
On the same day, the Turkish Defense Ministry stated that during the operation, they successfully bombed and neutralized 50 PKK targets in the nearby caves, including infrastructure such as shelters, ammunition warehouses and command posts.
The Turkish Defense Ministry also said that during the assault, 40 fighter jets were used, including unmanned vehicles with bombing capabilities, as well as support and refueling air vehicles. After the initial air bombardment, Turkish helicopters transported land forces in the area.
The Turkish press wrote that during the operation in a cave there were three entrances, nine rooms and seven iron gates.
While there was silence for the next two days, on February 14, the Ministry of Defense announced that three PKK guerrillas had been killed by an unmanned aircraft attack, bringing the total number of PKK casualties to 53.
The same day, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced that the bodies of 13 Turks had been found in Operation Kartal-2 in the Gare area and that the operation had come to a successful end on Sunday, February 14th.
Akar said in a statement: “While our operations in the area of Operation Pençe Kartal-2 were in progress, the bodies of 13 of our nationals were found in a cave we raided after heavy clashes. “From our investigation, it is clear that one of our compatriots was killed with a bullet in the shoulder and the other 12 with a bullet in the head.”
Akar also stated that “Two terrorists we arrested, confessed that at the beginning of the operation they were killed by the man in charge of the cave. “In the meantime, all the terrorists who killed our compatriots are dead.”
For its part, a statement from the Center for Civil Defense, published in the Fırat Haber Ajansı (ANF), states that these people lost their lives during the air strikes of the Turkish air force.
The announcement is as follows:
“There was a brutal attack on a war prisoners camp, where prisoners of war, members of the Turkish security forces, were being held. The camp was first bombed from the air at 05:00 on February 10 and then they carried out a ground operation, during which the camp was bombed by any means possible. Our forces that were in the camp, in order to protect themselves and the prisoners, resisted the assault and gave the appropriate response to the invaders, despite the storm of fire they were receiving. After the strong resistance of our forces, the Turkish occupation army retreated and although it was known that the prisoners were being held in this camp, they bombed it again from the air. The heavy bombardment lasted for three days, resulting in the killing of the MIT members, soldiers and policemen we held as prisoners there.”
Following Akar’s announcement of the 13 captives, harsh statements by all parties against the PKK followed.
At the same time, a pogrom of persecution against officials of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) began.
The EU issued a statement condemning the PKK, while the State Department issued a statement which enraged Erdogan.
The statement said: “If the information about the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a terrorist organization, is confirmed, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms.”
Erdogan made the following statement on the subject:
“The statements made by the United States are unacceptable. “You say you do not support the terrorists, but in fact you are on their side.”
Let us now turn to the questions that arise:
First, why has the Turkish state refused for years now to accept the mediation of human rights groups, something the PKK already accepted, in order to rescue its prisoners and have them safely return to their homes?
Secondly, who assured Erdogan that the operation would be easy and that on the very same day he would be able to deliver an “Address to the Nation” to reap the laurels of a great victory?
Thirdly, was he trapped by the military or MIT officials, that everything was agreed and that, along with the prisoners, they would bring back high-ranking PKK officials as captives to Ankara to celebrate Erdogan’s great victory?
Fourth, the military reportedly had information about the captives’ cave and a complete blueprint, as seen in the photo with the officer describing possible details of the operation. Having all this, why did they bomb the cave, even though they knew and the Kurds themselves had warned them that the prisoners were being held there?
Fifth, did the PKK itself set a trap for Erdogan to end the operation in a fiasco and record another defeat by the Kurds?
We consider it appropriate to note and emphasize that the PKK, since August 15, 1984, when its armed struggle began, since the Turkish state did not allow it to engage in a legitimate political struggle, has arrested dozens of prisoners, whom it respected and returned safely to their families, through the mediation of politicians and members of humanitarian organizations.
It was never accused of abusing prisoners, let alone of having killed a single prisoner.
Finally, let us emphasize that along with the dead prisoners, there are also dead guerrillas who were defending the camp, while some prisoners were rescued by the guerrillas, which means that if it was the guerrillas’ decision to kill prisoners, they would kill them all and make haste to safely leave the area.
Thus, we conclude that something did indeed happen in this operation and that’s where this “If” in the US announcement is coming from, which angered Erdogan. And that is why an independent international inquiry is needed.
The U.S., E.U. and the U.N., should investigate the case objectively, with an on-the-spot investigation, and rightly accuse those who are responsible for these war crimes rather than covering up Turkey and Erdogan once again. Along with this case, another investigation is needed for the murder of 34 young Kurds in Roboski, on December 28, 2011, by a Turkish Air Force bombing, which was carried out with the approval of Erdogan.