Sunday, July 22, 2007

Perspective: On Iraqi mountain fortress, PKK fighters rule

On the way to the Qandil mountains, a potential flashpoint for yet another Middle East war, Kurdish officials give blunt assessments of the limits of their sovereignty and power to curb anti-Turkish guerrillas.

"The problem with the border region is that we have no authority over it," said police major Abu Bakr Abdul Rahman Hussein in the town of Qalat Dizah in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

"We can't go there. The mountains are full of PKK," he added, referring to guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party.

A few miles east, at a base of the Iraqi Frontier Guard, Colonel Ahmed Sabr sternly warned of the dangers lurking ahead: "From here on, you are on your own. We can't help if anything happens to you. The area is full of people with guns -- PKK, Iranians, armed shepherds"...

Driving into PKK territory -- the "border" is a cement bridge not far from Colonel Sabr's frontier fort -- explains why the Kurdish government considers the Qandil mountain a no-go zone and why the Marxist-Leninist guerrillas appear supremely confident they could withstand a Turkish invasion or a crackdown by the KRG's forces.

Read the rest at the Washington Post