Thursday, December 27, 2007

Misinformation regarding ties between Armenia and Kurdistan Workers Party is possible prelude to aggression

26 Dec. 2007
By Armen Ayvazyan

Recently, the Azeri mass media disseminated information claiming that “Armenia is settling Armenians and Kurds, emigrants from Syria and Iraq, in Nagorno Karabakh and now it also plans to host terrorists from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).” REGNUM asks Armen Ayvazyan, political scientist and Director of the “Ararat” Center for Strategic Research, to comment on this.

The new Turkish deliberations regarding ties between the PKK and Armenia that were voiced in recent weeks and the immediate joining-in of the official Baku should be considered in several aspects: first, in the context of Turkey’s consistently hostile policy towards independent Armenia; second, in the light of the acceleration in the pace of Azerbaijan’s preparation for a large-scale war of aggression against Artsakh and Armenia; and third, in the context of the continued passive information policy of Armenia.

The Turkish propaganda campaign alleging that Armenia supports and even provides bases for the PKK was first launched in 1993 and continued at varying degrees of intensity up to 2000, when the PKK temporarily extinguished the insurgency. The following headlines from the Turkish press convey an idea of the scale of the initial campaign: “Syria Flies PKK Militants to Armenia;” “PKK Will Attack with ASALA in the Spring;” “Intelligence Report Details Armenia-PKK ties;” “PKK Reportedly Moving to Iran, Armenia.” (1) Moreover, the Turkish Daily News article published on April 16, 1998, asserted without any proof that purportedly the PKK has 7 bases in Armenia, 11 in Iran, 4 in Russia and 1 in Cyprus. At the time Azerbaijan joined in this Turkish propaganda campaign when its defence minister declared that supposedly "200 Kurdish terrorists are being trained in the Lachin region, occupied by the Armenian aggressors, and another 457 Kurdish fighters are receiving full military training in Armenia, to be later deployed in the territory of Turkey. (2)

A number of high-ranking Turkish officials, including the Chief of Staff of the Turkish army, have made statements regarding ties between the PKK and Armenia. On October 11, 1998, Turkey’s Secretary of State Metin Gurderen openly threatened Armenia with war: “If Armenia supports separatists, then we have made our decision, the button has been pressed. A war might break out any moment.” (3)

Many suggest that the Turkish allegations regarding Armenia-PKK ties are intended only for “domestic consumption”, that they are put forth to explain the prolonged nature of the Kurdish armed resistance and to satisfy the hostile sentiments of the Turkish public towards Armenia. However, the reality is even more dangerous. The true purpose of this continuous and well planned false propaganda, coordinated with Azerbaijan, regarding Armenia-PKK ties is to create new and additional causes for exerting constant pressure on Armenia, to demonise Armenia and NKR in the eyes of the international community and to prepare the information front for the planned military aggression by Azerbaijan, with a possible direct intervention of Turkey. Let’s not forget that using the pretext of pursuing PKK, Turkey has periodically been invading Northern Iraq. Within the period of 1991 and the beginning of 1999 Turkey carried out 55 incursions into Northern Iraq, which the international community although did not authorize, but neither did it condemn. Four of them were large-scale operations with the participation of over 20,000 Turkish soldiers. (4)

Recently, new information was published revealing that Turkey planned an incursion into Armenia in October 1993, using the very same Kurdish bases as a pretext. (5) Leonidas Khrisantopolos, the Greek Ambassador to Armenia in 1993-1994, stated that the then Turkish Prime Minister Tancu Chiller had come to an agreement with the speaker of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov on launching a few “surgical” strikes against Armenia. This information was indirectly confirmed by RA Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan in his interview to “Azg” daily (October 4, 2001), as well as by the former head of the National Security of Armenia Eduard Simonyan. (6)

Before that Western sources had reported that twice in 1993, in April and September, Turkey deployed its tank, mechanized and other units on the border with Armenia, the Turkish armed forces were brought to high state of combat readiness and Prime Minister Tancu Chiller warned she would ask the parliament for authorization to start military action, if Armenia touched any part of Nakhijevan. (7) Consequently, it is no accident that reports about PKK bases allegedly located in Armenia started to appear in the Turkish press as of Fall 1993. It is even less of an accident that in the above-mentioned reports the Turks indicated a number of locations in Armenia for supposed PKK bases (including the surrounding areas of the Armenian Atomic Power Plant and the Lachin region). (8)

Well affected by the Turkish propaganda some Western information agencies and think tanks presented the non-existent ties between Armenia and the PKK as a widely known fact. (9) Thus, in 1999, after the declaration of cease-fire by the PKK, one of the most famous American institutions of geopolitical research, Stratfor, apparently at the bidding of the Turks, trumpeted twice (on August 23 and November 23, 1999) to the whole world that the PKK squads were supposedly retreating to Armenia, for rearming and retraining in bases prepared for them beforehand. (10)

The halting of the Kurdish guerrilla war since 2000 (formalized only in 2002 (11)), to some extent deprived Turkey of the possibility to play the Kurdish card against Armenia. That is why the Chief of Staff of the Turkish armed forces Hussein Kivrikoghlu made a new false statement in the beginning of 2002, which alleged that Armenia possesses weapons of mass destruction, and, consequently, the same measures of punishment should be applied against Armenia as those against Iraq. (12)

On June 1, 2004, the PKK, now operating under the name CONGRA-GEL, terminated its 5-year old unilateral truce, (13) thus confirming that the Kurdish insurgents in Turkey are a long-term strategic factor in the region.

The latest insinuations coincided almost to the date with the intensification of Baku’s war rhetoric and particularly with the statement made by the Azeri Defence Minister Safar Abiyev that “as long as the Azeri territories remain occupied by Armenia, the probability of war is almost 100 percent.” Mr Abiyev’s statement was made on November 27 at the closing press conference of the Meeting of the CIS Defence Ministers Council in Astana. On November 30, with a direct reference to the Turkish intelligence, the Turkish pro-government newspaper “Zaman” disseminated misinformation about talks between Armenia and the PKK and alleged about the installation of bases for Kurds in NKR, in the towns of Shushi, Lachin and Fizuli. (14) This bait was immediately caught and circulated by the American United Press International. (15) On December 10, Araz Azimov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani President’s Special Representative on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stated about “readiness of Baku to launch anti-terrorist operations against the PKK’s military detachments stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh.” (16) It is exactly the coordination of activities between Baku and Ankara with respect to the timing and target of information attack that should be cause for concern. All these could be a prelude to not so virtual attacks.

The corresponding government bodies of Armenia should treat this newly unleashed campaign of Turkish-Azerbaijani propaganda in all seriousness. The brief refutations voiced by the Armenian MFA in this case are not at all effective. A well-supported clarification and condemnation of all the underpinnings of this old/new anti-Armenian row is necessary, including an exposition of all the dimensions, of its true purpose and possible consequences for the peace and stability in the region. Otherwise, it is impossible to expect the understanding and support of the international community for Armenia’s foreign policy positions, including for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

(1) Sezai Sengun, “Syria Flies PKK Militants to Armenia,” Hurriyet, 10 November, 1993, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report (further in FBIS Daily Report): West Europe, 15 Nov. 1993, p. 72; Gorsel Polat, “PKK Will Attach with ASALA in the Spring,” Cumhuriyet, 27 December 1993, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 5 January 1994, p. 29; Sinan Onus, “Intelligence Report Details Armenia-PKK ties,” Aydinlik, 29 January 1994, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 3 February 1994, p. 36; “PKK Reportedly Moving to Iran, Armenia,” Turkish Daily News, 1 February 1994, in FBIS Daily Report: West Europe, 7 February 1994, p. 44.

(2) Elmira Akhundova, "Defense Minister Abiyev: “We are keen on privileged partnership with NATO,” Azernews/Azerkhabar 2/17/99 — 2/23/99.

(3) RFE/RL Newsline Vol. 2, № 197, Part I, 12 Oct. 1998, Transcaucasus and Central Asia.

(4) Ed Blanche, “Terrorism: Turkey seizes PKK commander,” Jane's Intelligence Review-Pointer, 1 June, 1998. The same source notes that since the start of the Kurdish rebellion in 1984 through 1998 Turkey destroyed or deported 3000 Kurdish villages. According to data of the Turkish army, 39900 PKK fighters were taken out of action. The losses of the Turkish army amounted to 4600 deaths.

(5) См. Leonidas T. Chryzantopoulos, Caucasus Chronicles: Nation-Building and Diplomacy in Armenia, 1993-1994 (Princeton & London: Gomidas Institute Books, 2002), pp. 76-78, 155. “The Sensational Announcement of Leonidas Chryzantopoulos”, Golos Armenii, 19 September 2002 (in Russian).

(6) “'Turkey Really Was Going To Attack Armenia in Autumn 1993', Former Head of State Department of National Security, Major General Eduard Simoniants Says,” Noyan Tapan News Agency, Yerevan, September 23, 2002.

(7) R. Ernest Dupuis and Trevor N. Dupuis, World History of Wars. Book Four: 1925 – 1997 Saint Petersburg — Moscow: Polygon – Ast., 1998), pg. 754 (in Russian).

(8) Rouben Paul Adalian, “Armenia's Foreign Policy: Defining Priorities and Coping with Conflict,” in Adeed Dawisha and Karen Dawisha, eds., The Making of Foreign Policy in Russia and the New States of Eurasia (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1995), p. 318.

(9) For example, see Ed Blanche, “Terrorism: Turkey seizes PKK commander,” op. cit..

(10) “Where, oh where, has the PKK gone?” 1999.08.27; “PKK Wields Pipeline Leverage,” 1999.11.23.

(11) Officially the temporary halt in the armed resistance was announced after the regular 5th assembly of the PKK. It became known on February 6th, 2002, from the announcement of MED TV (see Akop Chakryan, “PKK decided to halt armed resistance in Turkey”, Azg, February 8th, 2002, #24, in Armenian).

(12) Here is an excerpt from the announcement distributed by on that occasion: “Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Turkey Hussein Kivrikoghlu stated the other day that Armenia possessed mass destruction weapons … This statement is included in the list of the six ‘apprehensions’ of Turkey that Kivrikoghlu had presented to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit before the latter's visit to the U.S.A. Speaking about the negative response of Turkey to the possible U.S. strikes on Iraq, Kivrikoghlu stated not only Saddam Huseyn regime, but also Armenia, Syria, Iran and some other countries possessed weapons of mass extermination. In the words of the chief of the general staff of Turkey, sanctions like those used against Iraq, should be applied to Armenia.” See also. “Azeri ex-military men on threat if Armenia has weapons of mass destruction,” Azerbaijan News Service TV January 8, 2002; “Does Armenia Possess a Mass Destruction Weapon?” Azerbaijan News Service, January 9, 2002; “Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman calls Turkish general's statement 'absurd',” Arminfo, January 7, 2002.

(13) Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey's Kurdish Rebels End 5-Year Truce”, Associated Press News, 1 June 2004.

(14) Ercan Yavuz, “PKK looks into relocating to Karabakh,” 30.11.2007 It must be noted that even a month before this, on October 29 the same “Zaman” newspaper published an article titled “Relations between Armenian and PKK terrorism”, full of myths about Armenian-Kurdish relations during the 1980’s and 90’s, with an indication of dates and locations, intended to give the “information” semblance of veracity. That article seemed to prepare ground for the subsequent direct accusations.

(15) “PKK reportedly planning move to Azerbaijan,” United Press International, Published: Dec. 1, 2007 at 1:49 AM.

(16) Araz Azimov: Azerbaijan is ready to launch operations against the Kurdish guerrillas in Nagorno-Karabakh, REGNUM News Agency, 10:22 11.12.2007 (in Russian).

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home