- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Envoy misunderstood

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey scrambled yesterday to clarify remarks by Ambassador Ross Wilson, whose comments this week were widely seen as a challenge to Turkey’s right of self-defense from Kurdish terrorist attacks in Iraq.

“Statements made by Ambassador Wilson in recent days have been misinterpreted to suggest that Turkey has no right to defend itself or its people in the face of the security threats it faces,” the embassy said in a message posted on its Web site (ankara.usembassy.gov).

“This is not the view of the United States government and was not the intention of the ambassador’s remarks.

“Of course, Turkey, like every country, has a right and an obligation to defend itself and its people.”

The embassy issued its clarification as tensions continued to increase along Turkey’s southern border with Iraq, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has mounted raids into Turkey and killed more than a dozen Turkish soldiers this month. The PKK, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization, is fighting for a separate homeland for Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Turkey is threatening to retaliate with incursions into Iraq’s areas under the control of the Kurdish regional government, which it accuses of allowing the Kurdish terrorists to operate with impunity. Turkey has demanded that the U.S. and Iraqi governments stamp out the PKK and is growing impatient with a lack of a response.

The Turkish Internet news journal Zaman yesterday reported that Turkey “is now preparing for a cross-border operation.” It said troops stationed near the Iraqi border were put on alert and all military leave was canceled.

Mr. Wilson angered Turkish officials when he told Turkey’s NTV news station on Tuesday that a “unilateral military action across the border with Iraq would be unwise.” He called on Turkey to consult and cooperate with the United States before making any move against the PKK in Iraq.

The embassy yesterday repeated the call for cooperation, saying, “Working together with the United States and the government of Iraq can be an essential part of advancing Turkish security.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United States of applying a double standard by recognizing Israel’s right to invade Lebanon to stop terrorists but not Turkey’s right to pursue the PKK.

The Turkish press also is outraged by Mr. Wilson’s comments. The Turkish Daily News yesterday criticized the government for looking weak.

How can the “Turkish government turn to our people and say the lives of Turks were not as valuable as the Israelis are for the United States and Turkey was not given ‘permission’ to exercise an act of self-defense?” the newspaper asked in an editorial.

Serbs threatened

Christian leaders from Kosovo today hope to focus attention on attacks against Serbs by extremists in the Muslim-controlled province of the former Yugoslavia.

Bishop Artemije of Kosovo and Metohija and Rada Trajkovic and Dragan Velic of the Serbian National Council will hold a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club to expose the “unremitting violence from jihad terrorist and criminal elements against the Christian Serb population,” said Darren Spinck of the American Council for Kosovo, which announced the event yesterday.

Metohija refers to the Orthodox Church-owned land within Kosovo.

“Kosovo’s black hole of corruption and organized crime — including trafficking in drugs, weapons and slaves — will lead to the extinction of Kosovo’s Christian Serbs if America and Europe allow Kosovo independence,” he said.

The United Nations is mediating talks between representatives of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority who are demanding independence for the province and leaders of the Serbian government, which opposes independence but has had no control over Kosovo since the United Nations took responsibility for the region after the civil wars of the 1990s.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]


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