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March 6, 2019 4:14 pm

NATO Member Turkey Announces Joint Military Operation With Iranian Regime Against Kurdish Fighters

avatar by Ben Cohen

Kurds in Cologne protesting the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Germany in 2016. Photo: Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters.

Turkey and Iran are planning joint military operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced Wednesday, according to the Anadolu state news agency.

“God willing, we will carry out a joint operation against the PKK together with Iran,” Soylu was quoted as saying.

Designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, the PKK has waged an armed struggle over several decades for greater Kurdish political and cultural rights in Turkey. It is allied in Iran with PJAK, an armed group based in Iran’s Kurdish minority.

About half of the Middle East’s 30 million Kurds live in Turkey, with another 12 million in Iran and the remainder in Iraq and Syria.

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Soylu did not specify which PKK bases the planned operation would target, but Turkey has frequently struck at Kurdish strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

According to an Al Jazeera report on Wedensday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been enthused by the idea of joint military operations with Iran against the Kurds. In 2017, he claimed that senior generals from the two countries’ militaries had discussed such an operation, though the Iranians denied this at the time.

If the threatened operation goes ahead, it will mark the first time that troops from Turkey, a NATO member, will have joined with the military of a regime whose official slogan is “Death to America.”

Media outlets in both Iran and Turkey have pushed the same conspiracy theories about the relationship between Israel, the Kurds and the US. Prior to the September 2017 Kurdish independence referendum in northern Iraq, Erdogan claimed that the Kurds were attempting to create “a second Israel” in the region.

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