Should the U.S. sell Turkey weapons to use against the PKK?
An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) takes off from Combat Outpost Ouellette, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Marines )
October 29th, 2011
08:39 PM ET

Should the U.S. sell Turkey weapons to use against the PKK?

CNN’s Security Clearance blog reported yesterday that according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the Obama administration may transfer combat helicopters from existing Marine inventory to Turkey.

“The DSCA has formally notified Congress of a possible sale of AH-1W Super Cobra Attack helicopters to Turkey. The notification was required under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. Turkey's ongoing fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, is one of the reasons for the proposed sale a State Department official told CNN.”

This arms sale has led some to ask: Could this come back to haunt the United States, leading the PKK to carry out terrorist attacks against American targets?

Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and co-author of Regenerating the U.S.-Turkey Partnership says “not a chance.” He argues:

“First of all, this external focus is missing from the group’s ideology. The PKK is a terror group established during the Cold War with the aim of fulfilling a nationalist dream. In other words, it is very much like ETA in Spain, and not at all like al Qaeda in the Middle East. The group’s raison d’etre is not jihadism, but virulent and violent nationalism.”

“What is more, it would be a suicidal act for the group to target the United States. PKK attacks on American interests would unleash U.S. fury against this already weakened group that could result in its annihilation. The PKK’s major bases are in northern Iraq controlled by the Iraqi Kurds who are America’s friends. Iraqi Kurdish action against the PKK, supported by the United States, would be the PKK’s death knoll, and the group knows this well."

Selling weapons to Turkey and helping Ankara pacify the PKK is a rare case in which Washington can have its cake and eat it. Soner Cagaptay believes this sale is good for the United States because:

“Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, Turkey has emerged as America’s key ally in the Middle East. Turkey fiercely opposes Syria’s brutal crackdown and this angers Damascus as well as Bashar al-Assad’s patron, Iran. In retaliation, as I explain in the post Why Syria and Iran are becoming Turkey’s enemies, again, Syria and Iran have started encouraging the PKK to attack Turkey. In other words, a proxy war is taking place in the Middle East: Turkey and the United States are lined up against Iran and Syria, which hope to use the PKK attacks to change Turkey’s policy."

“If the PKK is successful in hurting Turkey, then Ankara will stop confronting the Assad regime and Tehran. The United States needs to help Turkey become more effective against the PKK. In this regard, news that the White House is considering to give Ankara helicopters, an effective counter-terrorism tool across mountainous terrain, is most welcome.”

These are Soner Cagaptay's thoughts. We'll have more perspectives in the coming days. What do you think?

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Topics: Iran • Military • Security • Syria • Turkey • United States

soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. snipper

    where is those moneys come from??????????

    http://www.voicesempower.com/major-investigation-of-gulen-charter-schools-by-new-york-times/

    November 5, 2011 at 6:56 am | Reply
  2. DR LOVE

    I SUGGEST THAT USA TELL THE KURDS THEY SHOULD HELP THEM WHEN USA ATTACK IRAN AND USA CAN USE THE KURDS LANDS TO DO SO AND IF THATS OK THEN ASK TURKEY NOT TO DO SO , BUT IF THE KURDS HELP IRAN THEN ATTACK THEM AND GET RED OF THEM.

    November 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  3. kurd

    We all know the Turks piece is not a people but are Brbrion and drink human blood and are not a pkk Brberan they did not kill millions of people in Arminba and Kurdistan, Cyprus, Greece..............

    November 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  4. A Turk

    Since PKK is purely a TERRORIST organization, and Turkey has been USA's major Ally since 1950s... I think selling them 3 Helicopters to hunt down TERRORISTS is the right call.

    Turkey isn't going to let a bunch of ragheads divide their country just because they wish to do so... keep wishing.

    November 27, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply
  5. xemo

    You pig desired racist crap minded people! How can some body say yes to this question if he or she has not been blocked in his her mind and heart! I ll actually not even mention the moral because l don’t think the one say yes to this question will have anything about moral. Anyway Turkey clamming pkk as terrorist organization as well as the whole Kurds whom ask about their rights as terrorists, which means if you are a Kurd and don’t ask about your rights in the point of view of a thirsty to blood turk, means, you are a good kurds, otherwise you are a terrorist. Lest come to the definition or meaning of Terrorist! l don’t think anybody has right to call anybody Terorist unless everything about them been proven! If turkey step back their foot over the right of Kurds pkk will immediately except to leave guns and come too fight for their right politically which was the foundation of it, but Turkish government laying as always and even luck up the whole politicians of kurds, politician who fight for kurd’s right in the political arena. Pkk fight for their own right whom made up from kurds, but they are called terorist because they fight by the government! One should know that if one’s rights are banned and blocked in social life politically and in all other ways, one has right in any way to fight for his her right without be called terrorist.You call terrorist to somebody who harm things for their desire while there is no problem or they want more than the other! But kurds and pkk wants their basic human right language,political,economical rights, and to play an active role in the society. If you god damn against minded still don’t understand and blame kurds! Think about it vice versa that all your right has been taken from you and been killing everyday in every-way. All they want id basic human right like you have! A human cant say no to this if the humanity root still exist in he she.Are There any human in the world!

    December 1, 2011 at 1:21 am | Reply
  6. Azad Dewani

    Instead of establishing the friendship with other peoples the US Administration misguided by some businessmen make more troubles for American people. Why you should support a racist regime like the Turkish regime against a people who seek freedom? Why you should support the new Islamic caliphate (Turkey) against a people who seek your friendship. PKK is not a terrorist organisation. On the contrary, they are freedom fighters fighting your well-equipped ally the racist and terrorist regime of Turks. You'll never feel sorry because you have no sense of sympathy towards others. These were you businessmen who supported racist regimes as the Apartheid killing and torturing thousands of innocent!

    December 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  7. Azad Dewani

    Feel a bit shameful and have some sense: Kurds gusted the American soldiers at their homes and celebrated the American flag not only in Iraqi Kurdistan, but in Syrian and Iranian Kurdistan. Do you believe that you should loose such people and make them a new enemy only to satisfy a racist and terrorist; the Turkish regime??!!

    December 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  8. Azad Dewani

    Feel a bit shameful and have some sense: Kurds hosted the American soldiers at their homes and celebrated the American flag not only in Iraqi Kurdistan, but in Syrian and Iranian Kurdistan. Do you believe that you should loose such people and make them a new enemy only to satisfy a racist and terrorist; the Turkish regime??!!

    December 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  9. Azad Dewani

    Feel a bit shameful and have some sense: Kurds hosted the American soldiers at their homes and celebrated the American flag not only in Iraqi Kurdistan, but in Syrian and Iranian Kurdistan. Do you believe that you should lose such friendly people and make them a new enemy only to satisfy a racist and terrorist; the Turkish regime??!!

    December 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  10. MT8525

    I hope people who are not familiar with this situation are not fooled by these kurds posting their lies. Turkish Soldiers (some barely experianced 20 year olds) are killed by roadside bombs and mines. and they do this for freedom. i will tell the kurds this, as long as a turk is alive, our country will not be divided. Today kurds have as much freedom as turks. they have have kurdish channels. When kurds die in Van from an earthquake they are quick to request help from their government, next day they would get their weapons and attack turkish soldiers. You people are vermin and disgust me.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:29 am | Reply
  11. Azad Dewani

    Turkey is a racist an terrorist state. Exactly as the Pretoria state based on Apartheid the Turkish racist state is based on the racist rules of Atatürk. Kurds seek the friendship and support of the West; Turks seeks Islamic expansion! It is shameful that American accept giving weapons to Turks despite the fact that Kurds hosted the American soldiers at their homes in Iraqi Kurdistan while Iraq was burning under the land of American solders.

    December 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  12. Azad Dewani

    Turkey is a racist an terrorist state. Exactly as the Pretoria state based on Apartheid the Turkish racist state is based on the racist rules of Atatürk. Kurds seek the friendship and support of the West; Turks seek Islamic expansion! It is shameful that Americans accept giving weapons to Turks despite the fact that Kurds hosted the American soldiers at their homes in Iraqi Kurdistan while Iraq was burning under the land of American solders.

    December 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  13. PKKs politics

    First of all, if you read Abdullah Öcalans book, "The democratic solution of the Kurdish question" when he says; It would be impossible or unreality to make a border and create our OWN country, the Turks and Kurds have living for 1000 years ever since the Turks came to anadotolia year 1024 after christ, what ever would happen the Kurds and Turks cooperated every war, but when the National State Liberalism came to anatolia, the separatist were expanded in the other hand Mustafa Kemal wanted to give the Kurds their own autonomy, but a komplot were to happened against Mustafa Kemal by the Turkish separatist. And I only want to aware that Mustafa Kemal was good to Kurds and Kurds were good to Mustafa Kemal and not like the Turkish state does mention today.

    PKK does not demand or struggle for separate state, PKK are not like they say in the media that they are separatist, PKK are for a united and a democratic society that every ethnicity and no matter what religion you believe in should live tighter and forever.
    PKK does not get help from other countries like Germany, France, England or US, If you remember Turgur Ozal when he where assassinated by Gladio and international agencies just because he wanted to make a solution for the Kurdish problems in a democratic and peaceful way.
    When they caught Abdullah Öcalan, the Turkish premie minister said that he is chocked why all this international agency energy were used just to caught PKKs leader.
    US and other western countries only have economic and political interests in these matters just for their own countries sake.

    And buying US equipment is only causing more problems for Turkey than solving the problems, the Kurdish people are the most thirsty of peace than any other people in this world.
    Turks, Kurds, Iranians should be role models of peace in these days that even the Palestine and Israil problem will be solved. A democratic solution for the middle east problems is the biggest fear for the western hegemony states.

    I wish and even Abdullah Öcalan wishes that the tears of Turkish AND Kurdish mothers will be stopped, and that is when the Kurdish and Turkish people will go against the state and the Western ideologic of society and recreate a new system in the society where freedom and peace will be a fundament.

    January 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  14. Peacefull

    Im living in Turkey for many years , and i can say PKK is a terrorist organisation who fights for a Kurdish country that never exist in Turkey . PKK killing Turkish soldiers and many civies every day there is no limitation about Kurdish rights they have same idendity and same rights they can become President of Turkey if they want . We love Kurdish people and they love us , we hate PKK.
    But there are some facts.
    1-) Kurdish people only 18% of Turkey so they dont have any rights about speak their language in goverment departments
    2-) Kurdish people married their own brothers and sisters to raise population in Turkey
    3-) Some of you saying "PKK fighting for free Kurdish country" no this is a huge lie. PKK is like Al-Qaeda of Taliban.
    4-) Turkish Army didnt kill any Kurdish civie (ofcourse there are some deaths but this is war and things happens in wars , these are just accident).
    5-) USA shouldnt give weapons to Turkish army because Turkish army already have many weapons systems and building their own.
    6-) Dont think and say " Turkey is an Arabic country" or "Turkey is going to be like Iran" another huge mistake. Turkish people are different from Arabic people and Turkey didnt give support to Iran or Syria , we have always been with NATO and USA.
    PEACE IN THE HOME PEACE IN THE WORLD

    April 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
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