US embassy cable - 88BAGHDAD1097

KURDISH INSURGENCY IN IRAQ AND TURKEY

Identifier: 88BAGHDAD1097
Wikileaks: View 88BAGHDAD1097 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1988-02-28 10:41:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL MOPS PGOV IZ TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 281041Z FEB 88
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6425
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY ANKARA
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
AMCONSUL ADANA
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 01097 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, MOPS, PGOV, IZ, TU 
SUBJECT:  KURDISH INSURGENCY IN IRAQ AND TURKEY 
 
1.  (SECRET-ENTIRE TEXT) 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  TRAINING CAMPS FOR PKK IN IRAN ARE A 
GROWING WORRY FOR TURKEY AND, ACCORDING TO TURKISH 
AMBASSADOR, HAVE BEEN A SUBJECT OF DISCUSSION IN RECENT 
IRANIAN-TURKISH MEETINGS.  BARZANI'S KDP, APPARENTLY 
IN SOME DISARRAY, HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO REIN IN THE 
PKK, WHICH HAS ACTIVELY BEEN NEGOTIATING WITH 
TALABANI'S PUK.  THE TURKS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT 
POSSIBLE DELIVERY OF WEAPONS TO PKK BY THE IRAQIS. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  ACCORDING TO TURKISH AMBASSADOR KOKSAL, ONE OF 
THE TOP  ITEMS ON THE AGENDA DURING THE IRANIAN 
MINISTER OF INTERIOR'S RECENT VISIT TO ANKARA WAS 
IRANIAN SUPPORT OF THE PKK INSURGENTS BY PROVIDING 
THEM TRAINING CAMPS IN IRAN AND BY ASSISTING THEM 
IN THEIR IRAQI SANCTUARIES.  (ANOTHER TOP PRIORITY, 
KOKSAL SAID, WAS THE PROBLEM OF THE LARGE IRANIAN 
REFUGEE POPULATION.)  IRANIAN SUPPORT FOR THE PKK 
IS A DEVELOPMENT THAT HAS ONLY BEEN NOTICED OVER 
THE PAST YEAR, AS THE IRANIAN EMPHASIS PREVIOUSLY 
WAS IN SUPPORTING FUNDAMENTALIST POLITICAL PARTIES 
IN TURKEY.  THESE NEVER GARNERED SUFFICIENT POPULAR 
ENTHUSIASM, SO THE IRANIANS APPEAR TO BE TRYING A NEW 
TACTIC. 
 
4.  KOKSAL SAID THAT, DESPITE ASSURANCES TO TURKEY 
THAT IT WOULD NOT GIVE ANY AID TO THE PKK, ELEMENTS 
OF MASOUD BARZANI'S KURDISH DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF IRAQ 
HAVE BEEN AIDING THE PKK, EVEN AS OTHERS OF ITS 
ELEMENTS ARE BEING ATTACKED BY THE PKK.  KOKSAL 
ATTRIBUTED THE PROBLEM TO MASOUD'S POOR CONTROL 
OVER HIS DISORGANIZED FORCES.  IN A SEPARATE CON- 
VERSATION, TURKISH DCM OKCUN OBSERVED THAT THE 
KDP HAS "FALLEN INTO SOME DISARRAY" FOLLOWING IDRIS 
BARZANI'S DEATH ONE YEAR AGO.  MASOUD HAD APPARENTLY 
EVEN GIVEN THE ORDER TO KILL PKK INSURGENTS, 
IN CONFORMITY WITH HIS "UNDERSTANDING" WITH A 
TURKISH GENERAL IN COMMAND IN EASTERN TURKEY TO 
"SHUT OUT" THE PKK, BUT MASOUD "CANNOT DISCIPLINE HIS 
OWN PEOPLE." 
 
5.  OKCUN SAID THAT APO ACALAN (HEAD OF PKK, 
RESIDENT IN SYRIA) HAS BEEN NEGOTIATING WITH JALAL 
TALABANI, HEAD OF THE PATRIOTIC UNION OF KURDISTAN 
(PUK), PRESUMABLY THROUGH SOME SYRIAN INTERMEDIATION 
AND IMPETUS.  TALABANI IS SEEKING GREATER STATUS AS 
"THE PREEMINENT KURDISH LEADER" AND THUS WANTS THE 
PKK AS AN ALLY, BUT ONLY IF THE PKK BEHAVES ITSELF. 
ACCORDING TO OKCUN, TALABANI ALSO IS LOOKING TOWARD 
A TIME WHEN THE PKK WILL BE HELPFUL TO HIM IN MOVING 
AGAINST BARZANI.  THE ELEMENTS OF THE TALABANI- 
ACALAN AGREEMENT SEEM TO BE: 
 
-- CESSATION, FOR THE TIME BEING, OF PKK ATTACKS 
ON CIVILIANS, 
 
-- CESSATION OF PKK ASSASSINATIONS OF OTHER KURDS, 
ESPECIALLY IN EUROPE, 
 
-- TURNING AGAINST THE KDP IN FULL FORCE, BUT NOT 
UNTIL "THE TIME IS RIPE." 
 
OKCUN OBSERVED THAT IT IS ODD THAT THE PKK IS CULTI- 
VATING THE PUK, WHOSE TRADITIONAL AREA OF OPERATION 
IS AROUND SULAYMANIYYA AND NOT ALONG THE IRAQI- 
TURKISH BORDER WHICH IS KEY TO THE PKK, BUT HE ASSUMED 
THAT THE          IMPORTANT FACTORS ARE ANGER AT 
MASOUD'S PRESSURE ON THE PKK AND MASOUD'S INCREASING 
LACK OF CONTROL WHICH ALLOWS THE PKK TO USE BASES IN 
KDP TERRITORY DESPITE ENMITY WITH MASOUD.  OKCUN 
SAID THAT IN THE PAST SIX WEEKS, THERE HAS BEEN A 
MARKED DECREASE IN PKK ATTACKS, EVEN ON JANDARMA, AND 
HE GAVE CREDIT TO THE PUTATIVE ACALAN-TALABANI- 
SYRIAN AGREEMENT. 
 
6.  OKCUN ADDED THAT A NEW WORRISOME ELEMENT HAS EMERGED 
IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS:  USE BY THE PKK OF NEW WEAPONRY 
OBTAINED FROM THE IRAQIS.  THE TURKS, OKCUN SAID, HAVE 
TO ASSUME THAT THESE WEAPONS HAVE NOT BEEN CAPTURED, SINCE 
THEY ARE IN SERIAL SEQUENCE AND NEW.  THE TURKS HAVE NOT 
RAISED THE ISSUE YET WITH THE IRAQIS, IN HOPES THAT IT 
WILL TURN OUT TO HAVE  BEEN A LIMITED ARRANGEMENT. 
(ASKED WHY THE IRAQIS WOULD RISK HARMING ITS KEY 
RELATIONAHIP WITH TURKEY--AFTER ALL, NEITHER STATE IS 
BLESSED WITH AN OVERABUNDANCE OF FRIENDLY NEIGHBORS-- 
OKCUN MUSED THAT "ALL THESE COUNTRIES"--SYRIA, IRAN, 
AND IRAQ--ARE ACCUSTOMED TO PUTTING ON PRESSURE THROUGH 
RUNDERHANDED, VIOLENT MEANS:  "IT IS IN THEIR CHARACTER," 
WAS HIS VIEW.) 
 
7.  COMMENT:  THE HISTORY OF KURDS, AT LEAST IN IRAQI 
KURDISTAN, IS THAT PPWE THEY ARE ALWAYS READY TO FIGHT 
NON-KURDISH OUTSIDERS THEY ALSO FREQUENTLY FIGHT EACH 
OTHER.  THE CURRENT PKK-KDP SITUATION AND FREQUENT 
KDP-PUK FUEDS ILLUSTRATE THIS CONSTANT OF IRAQI KURDISH 
POLITICS. 
 
 
NEWTON 

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