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Our Alliance Against Terrorism

Milliyet - April 22, 2006

By Ross Wilson, US Ambassador

Recent bombings and other terrorist violence in Turkey have reminded the world of the brutality and ruthlessness of the PKK.  They have rekindled frustrations among Turkish citizens that thirty years of struggle have not defeated the PKK.  They have refocused attention on the PKK’s presence in the rugged border areas of northern Iraq.

Some here have said that the United States, indirectly or by design, protects the PKK.  Some have accused my country of inciting PKK violence and using it as a tool to “punish Turkey” for the parliament’s decision of March 1, 2003 on Iraq.  Some have even accused us of using the PKK as a tool of instability and to foster the creation of a new Kurdish state carved out of Turkey and other countries in the region.  None of this is true.

I deeply sympathize with and understand the anger and frustration that Turkish citizens feel about PKK violence.  I, too, am dissatisfied that our two countries have not been able to achieve more – just as we have not been able to do all we would like to defeat and eliminate other terrorist groups.  For us, these groups are all the same:  they are home to terrorists who kill, maim, destroy and intimidate to obtain power without regard to the rights and welfare of others, including those they claim to represent.  The civilized world must fight these threats to our way of life, and we must defeat them.

It is precisely for this reason that I am also deeply proud of what America is doing to help this country defeat PKK terrorism.  Our PKK strategy with Turkey has three elements.

Part one is in Iraq, where our countries are working to establish a democratically-elected national unity government of a unified nation.  It is exactly this kind of Iraq that will be Turkey’s southern partner in the fight against terrorism, which Saddam’s Iraq never was.  Enormous challenges remain ahead of Iraq, but the success of the Iraqis’ and our efforts right now in Baghdad is critical to the future of that country, to US interests, and also to Turkey’s interests, including with regard to the PKK.  President Bush is determined that must not fail.

Part two of our strategy with Turkey is in Europe.  PKK activities in Turkey and elsewhere in the region are sustained by funding that comes from drug trafficking, human smuggling and other illegal activities.  Last fall, we began work with Turkey to better use the tools of law enforcement cooperation to stop these activities, shut down PKK front groups in Europe, apprehend PKK terrorists there, and cut off the flow of money.  Some progress has been made.  Much more must be achieved.

Part three of our strategy focuses on Turkey.  For several years, this country has been one of the largest recipients in the world of US anti-terrorism training and assistance.  We actively exchange information to better enable Turkish authorities to identify, counter and eliminate terrorist threats, especially from the PKK.  For obvious reasons, the nature of these and certain other efforts cannot be shared with the public.  I believe it is having a positive effect on the ground, and this work will continue.

Today, Turkey has no firmer or stronger partner in the fight against PKK and other international terrorism than the United States.  We deeply appreciate the help and assistance this country is giving to international efforts in the global war on terrorism.  This partnership is the logical result of an alliance that has lasted over fifty years in fulfillment of our mutual security obligations undertaken in the North Atlantic Treaty and other bilateral agreements – obligations to defend and protect one another.  Those commitments are exactly why the United States and Turkey do, can and will stand together to defeat the PKK; why we will continue to look for ways to be more effective in that effort; and why we will also fight and win the broader war against global terrorism that threatens us all.