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Turkey to Dry up PKK’s Foreign Support

Turkish General Staff data confirm the US intelligence about the source of PKK weapons.
Government and security authorities agreed on a two-pronged action plan in their fight against terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activities at a security meeting held two weeks ago as part of which the channels through which the PKK has been supported financially will be closed and diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis countries from which the PKK procures weapons will be intensified.

According to information on the action plan obtained exclusively by Today’s Zaman, Turkey will request in particular that Russia expand its cooperative efforts against the PKK. Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek, who went to St. Petersburg to attend the 12th Ministerial Session of the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement yesterday, brought some proposals concerning the PKK with him to be discussed with Russian authorities on the sidelines of the meeting.

The increased focus on PKK activities in Russia is a result of intelligence provided to Turkey by the US, Today’s Zaman also learned from some officials who preferred to remain anonymous. During extensive talks with American experts, the US side told Turkish authorities that 80 percent of the arms the PKK uses are made in Russia.

Turkish General Staff data confirm the US intelligence about the source of PKK weapons. According to the latest report the General Staff prepared on the issue and which Çiçek took to Russia yesterday, the majority of weapons seized from PKK terrorists or from their bases were of Russian origin.

The report suggests that 72 percent of the Kalashnikov rifles used by the group were from Russia, followed by China with 14 percent. Hungary and Bulgaria both contribute some 4 percent of the Kalashnikovs seized. Russia is by far the largest source of sniper rifles used by the PKK, too. Some 45 percent of 5,713 such rifles were of Russian origin.

The UK and the US followed with 13.2 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively. However, Russia was found to contribute greatly to the group’s supply of anti-tank mines and rocket launchers.

Of such mines and launchers, 88 percent and 85 percent were of Russian origin, respectively, according to the report. What is more, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) recently detected that Mustafa Karasu, a PKK leader, had talks with Russian arms dealers and negotiated the sale of Russian-made rockets.

The military report also suggests that the PKK bought a large quantity of arms from Russian dealers in 2007. Turkish intelligence also holds strong suspicions that Iran and Armenia are possible paths the PKK uses to bring weapons into northern Iraq.

Recently, Turkey has stepped up efforts to put an end to the problem of terrorism that has plagued the country for almost three decades. As part of those efforts, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay had talks with northern Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in Arbil on Sunday.

The meeting came just after MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan went to the US for talks on the PKK issue, too. Barzani told Atalay that he is ready to cooperate with Turkey in its fight against the PKK. Fidan is also expected to visit Arbil in a few weeks’ time.

Turkey and Russia, two strategic partners, have had difficulties on the issue of cooperation against terrorism. While the alleged Russian support of the PKK was the subject of heated debate in Turkey, particularly just after now-jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan fled Syria in an attempt to avoid being captured by Turkish forces in 1999, Turkey has also been accused of aiding Chechen militants in Russia from time-to-time.