This story is important to Americans for several reasons.
First, PJAK is a secular, pro-Western Iranian opposition group that ought to be a natural ally of the United States in any effort to put pressure on the Iranian regime. Their fighters are well- organized and highly-disciplined, and despite Iranian regime efforts to paint them as terrorists, they have never attacked civilians. In fact, PJAK sees itself primarily as a political group, not a military organization.
Second, PJAK has been effectively defending Iraq’s challenging northeastern border with Iran from IRGC and al Qaeda infiltration since the U.S.-led coalition ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. U.S. military officers I have interviewed in Iraq acknowledged to me the importance of PJAK’s presence in guarding the border.
Third, the virtual silence from Baghdad even as Iraqi territory was being attacked and Iraqi citizens were being killed, shows just how successful the Iranians have been at intimidating the government of prime minister Nouri al-Malaki.
But most important is that it reveals Turkey’s strategic and military alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran. At the joint headquarters they have established in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmiyeh, Turkish generals offer strategic advise to their Iranian counterparts and Turkish counter-insurgency specialists train IRGC troops – actions that ought to an outrage to the entire NATO alliance.
Under the direction of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP, Turkey has increasingly dropped all pretence of remaining a friend and ally of the West. Instead, Erdogan seems intent on throwing in his lot with the Islamists in a bid to restore the Muslim caliphate Ataturk abolished in 1924.
In his latest attempt to claim leadership of the Muslim world, Erdogan thumped his chest in front of Arab leaders in Cairo on Tuesday, demanding that Israel “must pay the price for the crimes it committed.” He was referring to the response of Israeli commandos, armed with paint ball guns, who intercepted the MV Mavi Marmara off the coast of Gaza last year.
After an Israeli commander was eviscerated by the “civilians” on board the “humanitarian” ship, Israeli soldiers opened fire, killing nine activists on board. What Erdogan and most of the media won’t tell you, is that the entire “peace flotilla” operation was orchestrated by Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency on Erdogan’s personal orders, sources familiar with the Israeli investigation have told me.
Turkish intelligence officers trained the people on board the Mavi Marmara in close combat techniques, and helped them to gather knives, steel bars and other weapons to inflict the great damage on the Israeli commandos. The viciousness of their attacks was documented in video footage seized by the IDF after they took control of the ship.
Erdogan is now saying he will dispatch the Turkish navy to escort future flotillas to Gaza. (Iran promised to do the same last year but backed down after Israel made clear that it would intercept blockade-runners no matter who escorted them).
Will NATO members wake up to the “new” Turkey in their midst, intent on advancing the Islamist cause, even to extent of providing military support to the Iranian regime?
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