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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Picture of the Day

(An Iraqi boy plays with his toy gun as US soldiers watch, 20 October 2007. US forces in Iraq captured a Shiite militant and killed two others, accusing them of ignoring cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's order to freeze the activities of his Mahdi Army militia, the military has said.(AFP/File/Alexander Nemenov))

The US is enforcing Sadr's policies?
"The operation was targeting a splinter group leader, who was not honouring Moqtada al-Sadr's pledge to cease attacks and who was involved in weapons procurement, kidnapping and explosively-formed penetrator (EFP) attacks," the military said in a statement.

The State Dept's "Stop-Loss"

Holy Crap is this going to go down badly.
Facing staff shortages in Iraq, the U.S. State Department announced on Friday that diplomats would have no choice but to accept one-year postings in the hostile environment or face losing their jobs.

In what is likely to be an unpopular move with staff, State Department human resources director Harry Thomas said about 250 "prime candidates" for vacant Iraqi posts would be notified on Monday of the decision.

He said they would have 10 working days to respond to the demand that they go to Iraq in summer, 2008, and only those with valid reasons such as a medical problem, would be exempt.

The Iraqis propose an American tripwire along the Turk border

The Turks rejected this Iraqi offer (made without US endorsement.)
The Iraqis proposed positioning American soldiers in border forts in the Qandil Mountains, a jagged area that has never been fully under the control of any government. Although American military officials were part of the delegation taking part in the meetings, it was unclear what role, if any, the military might ultimately agree to.

Look, the PKK knows those mountains inside and out. A small scattering of US posts would have no effect on the small scale infiltrations the PKK are making. The only real purpose a token US presence would have is to act as a tripwire for a much larger, and much more heavily equipped Turkish force coming the other way.

What would a small US "border fort" do when a convoy of 50,000 Turks came rolling through the pass? It's so nice of the Iraqis to volunteer us to stand in the way.

Here's the reality,
Meanwhile, a senior American general in Iraq played down the chances of any new American military commitment in the conflict. The officer, Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, the top American commander in northern Iraq, said that he had no plans to order his troops to confront Kurdish rebels in the mountains.

The general, speaking to reporters in Washington over a video link from Iraq, was asked what American forces plan to do about fighters of the P.K.K.

“Absolutely nothing,” he responded.

The US military will do nothing. The Baghdad government can do nothing. The Kurdish government is offering the PKK protection and tacit support, and a Turkish operation, because of the terrain and Kurdish support on both sides of the border, would be nearly impossible.

(AFP) The threat of a Turkish military strike on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq grew Saturday after crisis talks with an Iraqi delegation failed to satisfy Ankara.

(Reuters) Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a swipe at western countries on Saturday for not helping Turkey fight the PKK, criticizing what he called an approach of "your terrorist is good, my terrorist is bad."

"We want to see our western friends by our side in our fight against terror," he told a conference in Istanbul. "Those who overlook terrorism are in cooperation with terrorism."

(Supposedly, (WaPo) the Turks have committed to hold off any cross border operations until PM Erdogan meets with Bush on Nov. 5, but what could Bush offer that is not already on the table?

And, I hadn't noticed that the special Turk/Kurd envoy Joseph Ralston had resigned his post "recently" out of frustration at a lack of support. I'd be very curious on the timing. Was it his resignation that ignited this?)

Two long reads from the WaPo

A look at some of the less high profile "ghost prisoners" who have "disappeared" after the first closing of the CIA's secret prisons.

And, a very negative "boots on the ground" assessment from a unit on its 14th month of deployment in Baghdad's Sadiyah neighborhood.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Picture of the Day - 3

Add the AARP to the list of groups the Republican presidential candidates have shunned. (After the NAACP debate and the Univision debate.)

Are you freaking kidding me?

On Tuesday, the FEMA the deputy administrator, Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, had a news briefing. Notice was so short, that most reporters couldn't get there.

FEMA then stocked the press pool with its own employees who pretended to be reporters, lobbing softball questions at their boss.

The defense?
The staff did not make up the questions, he said, and Johnson did not know what was going to be asked. "We pulled questions from those we had been getting from reporters earlier in the day." Despite the very short notice, "we were expecting the press to come," he said, but they didn't. So the staff played reporters for what on TV looked just like the real thing.

Yes, it's extremely important that it look just like the real thing.

(Here's a link to FoxNews coverage.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Some of the troops from the 101st division are on their third tour of Iraq.

Previous tours have lasted more than a year and this one will be more than 15 months.

The words "never going home" have been etched onto the ceiling of this vehicle. (Photo and caption: BBC)

Turkey's unguarded flank

From the BBC. Inside Turkey's Kurdish south,
The south-eastern flank of the country is a Kurdish heartland where most of the nation's 20 million Kurds live.

Kurdish political leaders will tell you (in private) that at least 80% of their people support the rebels and are proud if a family member is "living in the mountains."

By my math, that's some pretty complicating news to Turkey.

(Also: Another article stating that the Iraqis and Americans are offering the Turks virtually nothing to stop the PKK.)

Heads up, Iraq

I've maintained that a fair part of the reduction of violence against civilians in Iraq is due to the Mahdi stand down. Well, heads up.
A representative of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, warned during his Friday sermon that a freeze on Shiite militia activities could be lifted if U.S. and Iraqi forces continue detaining members of the movement.

Sheik Assad al-Nasseri also complained that an agreement to end violence between followers of al-Sadr and rival Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim had failed to yield tangible results.

"The reconciliation between the Sadrist movement and other sides did not have any noticeable effect except in some press statements," al-Nasseri said during Friday prayers in the holy city of Kufa.

On Wednesday, al-Sadr renewed his appeal to his followers to uphold the six-month cease-fire announced in August and threatened to expel those who do not.

Interesting that this comes two days after Sadr reaffirmed the ceasefire. Is this cleric complaining publicly or is he placating the complainers within the organization?

The recent US airstrikes that have killed civilians have been very unpopular.

It's all about the oil....

(Reuters) Oil rallied to a fresh record high above $92 a barrel on Friday as the dollar tumbled to a record low....

(Oil prices are probably why the Bush administration is working so hard to tamp down talk of an attack on Iran.

WaPo frontpage: Strike on Iran Would Roil Oil Markets, Experts Say.)

Picture of the Day

(NYTimes) New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site that Israel bombed last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor.

Bigger picture if you click it.

(Satellite images from Aug. 10 and Oct. 24 by DigitalGlobe)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Not going to war with Iran." - So say the oracles.

Boy, the White House really wants it known that the new unilateral sanctions against Iran are an indication that they are not going to war.

Almost identical language in both the WaPo and NYTimes.

(It'd be so much easier if they'd just let the White House write these kinds of press releases themselves.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Apparently, there was a pointed joke that Bill Clinton wasn't there (tee-hee), but no one mentioned the absence of Judy Giuliani.

(Presidential candidate spouses Jeri Thompson, Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, Elizabeth Edwards and Cindy Hensley McCain pose together following a panel discussion at The Women's Conference 2007 in Long Beach, California, October 23, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello)

Think the Turks will accept this?

I've been saying for awhile that there is very little the Iraqi government could do to stem the PKK in Kurdistan, but do you think the Turks will accept this as an answer?
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, urged Turkish authorities today to accept an offer by the Iraqi government to “pacify, isolate and disrupt” Kurdish separatist rebels who operate out of bases in northern Iraq, though using methods short of military action.....

Mr. Zebari conceded that the offer fell short of Turkish demands, but that it represented the best possible proposal from the Iraqi side.

(Notably, PM Erdogan is out of the country during these meetings.)

And, if you believe the McClatchy article below, "Iraqi Kurdish officials indicated that they were unlikely to help in any crackdown."

Kerik is coming

The AP talks about the inevitable arrival of Bernie Kerik as an albatross around Giuliani's neck.
Kerik is expected to confront the results of the investigation as early as next month — and it's widely believed he will either be indicted or reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Should prosecutors charge Kerik and the case reach trial, Giuliani could end up being called to testify during the general election campaign. Should Kerik agree to a plea deal, he could be admitting guilt on some level for activities that may have taken place while the city employed him — and on Giuliani's watch.

And, perhaps my favorite quote of the week,
"I made a mistake in recommending Bernie Kerik to the president," Giuliani says often, adding that he should have more thoroughly vetted his associate of nearly two decades.

Yeah, it's always a surprise when a mobbed up associate who has been under various investigations for a decade isn't vetted.

Very funny, indeed.

Dick Cheney "nods off" during a briefing on the California fires.

Wake him when we get to Iran.

Picture of the Day

Neocon advised.
Pro "bombing Iran." Pro waterboarding and torture.

"A small man in search of a balcony."

(Rudy Giuliani smiles as he answers questions in a roundtable discussion at the University of Illinois of Medicine building, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh))

"Mistakes" with torture....

Two separate articles this morning discussing "mistakes" with aggressive detainee policies.

(AP) Condi Rice tells a Congressional hearing "that the United States mishandled the case of a Canadian engineer (Maher Arar) seized by U.S. officials and taken to Syria, where he and the Canadian government say he was tortured.

Rice, speaking at a U.S. congressional hearing, said the United States has told Canada "that we will try to do better in the future."

And, the WaPo has a story about Abdallah Higazy, the Egyptian who was detained after 9-11 for allegedly having a "pilot's radio" (which wasn't his.)

He was told to confess or "the security service in his native Egypt would give his family "hell." Higazy responded by confessing to a crime he didn't commit."

Do unilateral sanctions against Iran mean failure?

The WaPo dutifully prints the pre-press on new unilateral sanctions on Iran, making them sound scary and unprecedented, just the way the State Dept wanted.

But all I'm thinking is that, with the next round of UN discussions on sanctions scheduled for November, this preemptive unilateral action smacks of a failed international effort.

If the Security Council was going to adopt sanctions in less than a month, we wouldn't be hearing about this now.

(Maybe more importantly, this statement will also include "the long-awaited designations of its Revolutionary Guard Corps as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and of the elite Quds Force as a supporter of terrorism, according to senior administration officials." ("long awaited?")

But again, this designation is the US acting alone.)

If the Israelis aren't worried.....

(Haaretz) "Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published tomorrow.

Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran."

What choice do the Turks have?

(McClatchy) "In Baghdad, politicians acknowledged that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki lacked the political and military muscle needed to fulfill his pledge to crack down on rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.....

Iraqi Kurdish officials indicated that they were unlikely to help in any crackdown, with the regional government's spokesman denying that there are PKK bases in northern Iraq."

Peak Oil

If CNN's reporting on Peak Oil (albeit skeptically,) can we begin to have a real discussion?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Picture of the Day - 2

"The birth pangs of a new middle east."

(Caption per Anonymous in the comments.)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is confronted by CodePink member Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz, her hands painted red, as she arrives to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Seems notable to me.

(BBC) "Two candidates in Sunday's regional elections in Colombia have been killed, bringing the total of candidates killed during the campaign to at least 21."

A broad question on the dynamics of a female candidacy

There seems to be a growing consensus that one of the dynamics of a Hillary Clinton election campaign is whether and how she will be able to project "strength," and all of this discussion seems centered around a rather limited male "punching each other in the arm" sort of interpretation of power, but I want to offer another possibility.

The male female dynamic does allow a different type of power display, a kind of an emasculating condescension reached by a woman treating a man as a little boy. It displays an assumed strength, and properly deployed leaves the male target with no response but attack and aggression.

I don't really know how to put it into words, and it would be a difficult jiujitsu to pull off, but it could also be very powerful. Instead of responding to the shrill with shrill, pat Rudy Giuliani on the head and tell him that he's a good little boy, but he doesn't really doesn't understand what he's talking about.

(Does that make sense? I've been thinking about this for months, but haven't really figured out how to express it right.)

Political bits

The Village Voice got ahold of Giuliani's 9/11 commission testimony, "A 15-page "memorandum for the record," prepared by a commission counsel and dated April 20, 2004, quotes Giuliani conceding that it wasn't until "after 9/11" that "we brought in people to brief us on al Qaeda."

(Politico) Some "Blue Dog" Democrats have apparently thus far refused to contribute to the DCCC's fundraising. (Is this really something or are these candidates cautious about the perception of where their money might be spent.)

(CNN) Dr. Don Wilton, the former head of the South Carolina Baptist convention, recanted his endorsement of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney Wednesday, just days after announcing his support.

(Politico) Fred Thompson loses another campaign adviser.

And, There are times that Bill O'Reilly is funnier than his satirist Stephen Colbert.

Contingency planning

Because Iraq and Afghanistan have such robust air defenses?
Some Democrats are worried that President Bush’s funding request to enable B-2 “stealth” bombers to carry a new 30,000-pound “bunker buster” bomb is a sign of plans for an attack on Iran.

Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Oct. 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 bombers so they can drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb still in development that is the most powerful weapon designed to destroy targets deep underground.

A White House summary accompanying the supplemental spending proposal said the request for money to modify ­B-2s to carry the bombs came in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.”

Trouble, trouble, everywhere....

(AP) Turkey shells Kurd rebels in Iraq

(Reuters) "Turkish warplanes flew 20 km (13 miles) into Iraq and some 300 ground troops advanced about 10 km..... All Turkish troops involved in the operations had returned to Turkey."

(HeraldSun) "The Bush Administration is considering air strikes, including cruise missiles, against the Kurdish rebel group PKK in northern Iraq." (How does that fold into Iraqi politics? What happens when he US kills Kurdish civilians?)

(AP) "Pakistan's army has sent 2,500 paramilitary troops into a remote valley in the country's northwest to combat followers of a militant cleric calling for Taliban-style rule, a military spokesman said Wednesday."

(AFP) "The United States was to press its European allies Wednesday to provide more troops and equipment to combat the insurgency in Afghanistan, at NATO defence ministers' talks in the Netherlands."

(WaPo) ISIS claims to have satellite photos showing what they believe to be a Syrian nuclear site targeted in an Israeli air strike last month. (Still nothing from the US, Syria, or Israel.)

And, after all that, (AP) Condi Rice says that Iran is the major obstacle to the U.S. vision of a peaceful Middle East.

Picture of the Day

It's hard on the stomach to say the things you have to say to be president.

(Republican presidential candidate and former senator Fred Thompson pauses as he speaks during a rally in Orlando, October 20, 2007. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria))

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Iraqis claim they'll act against the PKK

Iraq claims it will shutter the PKK offices and "not allow it to operate on Iraqi soil." But beyond asking that the offices be closed, the Iraqi government has very little influence in the Kurdish region.

The Americans are already lowering the Iraqi bar,
The US military commander in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, has told the BBC it would be very difficult for anyone to police Iraq's northern border but pressure should be put on the PKK.

In other words, don't expect a lot of actual action.

And, this caught my eye,
In London, Mr Erdogan said: "We may impose some sanctions with respect to some goods we export to Iraq."

He did not specify what might be embargoed but mentioned Turkey had been helping Iraq with water, fuel and food.

Bay of Pigs, anyone?

I understand the point of such a statement, and we can argue about the merits, but as a "warning" to Cuba, how worthless is this? What is the US going to do? Impose sanctions?
President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.

Apparently, he's going to try and extoll democracy to the people of Cuba. (He's a democracy promoter, you know....)

Picture of the Day - 2


I've got nothing really to post. I just like to have a little space between pictures.

Picture of the Day

(First Lady Laura Bush (2nd R) sits next to breast cancer survivors during the Pink Majlis and Conversation with survivors at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Karim Sahib))

(Thanks for indentifying her (2nd R))

Get ready for some racism

Reading this AP piece, "Civility reigns at San Diego stadium," I almost winced waiting for the racist comparisons to New Orleans. Forget the fact that San Diego stadium has power, food, a large national guard presence, and isn't itself involved in the disaster.

Any bets on who the racist will be? (John Gibson? Glen Beck?)

(If Susan or Marsha are out there, I talked to Dad last night who said Stanley pulled out. The fires weren't too near, but just out of caution something might turn, he went ahead and left. Dad knows more than I do, so probably best to contact him.)

The appearance of impropriety

Look, I don't know if Jay Rockefeller received campaign donations from the telecoms intended to help them with their immunity quest (he should probably recuse himself in some fashion, though,) but take a look at the AT&T defense of the allegations.
A spokeswoman for AT&T, Claudia B. Jones, said contributions from its executives related to Mr. Rockefeller’s role on the Senate Commerce Committee, not immunity or other questions before the Intelligence Committee.

We weren't trying to bribe him over immunity. We were trying to bribe him over regulation. Oh, that's so much better.
She added that although industry executives and politicians might not always agree, it is “commonplace for AT&T employees to regularly and voluntarily participate in the political process with their own funds.”

Because "political process" means donating to Senators you want something from.

(How does a Rockefeller allow himself to get in trouble over 42K?)

Monday, October 22, 2007

A troubling possibilty in a Turk/Kurd conflict

Right now, the US forces in Iraq (and most of the Iraqi forces) receive most of their supplies over land routes coming either from Turkey or from Kuwait/Basra port.

If there was some sort of extended conflict along the Turkish/Iraqi border, a large amount of that Turkish supply route would become difficult if not compromised or shut off.

That would mean that almost all US resupply would be coming through the Shia dominated south which is currently protected by a small, fairly limited British presence and the goodwill of the Shia factions.

Something to think about.....

Tuesday: The Turkish Foreign Minister has officially rejected the PKK's offer of a ceasefire, but at the same time seemed to press diplomacy over military action.

Also, the NYTimes takes a look at PJAK, the Kurdish terror group targeting Iran.
Guerrilla leaders said the Americans classify the P.K.K. as a terrorist group because it is fighting Turkey, an important American ally, while the P.J.A.K. is not labeled as such because it is fighting Iran.

In fact, the two groups appear to a large extent to be one and the same, and share the same goal: fighting campaigns to win new autonomy and rights for Kurds in Iran and Turkey. They share leadership, logistics and allegiance to Abdullah Ocalan, the P.K.K. leader imprisoned in Turkey.

Picture of the Day - 2

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney speaks during the Family Research Council's 2007 Washington briefing, 19 October 2007 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Getty/ Brendan Smialowski)

Does Bin Laden hold sway in Iraq?

There's a new Bin Laden tape. I often don't mention these because there's frequently very little interesting or new, but today's tape does contain something interesting.
"Some of you have been lax in one duty, which is to unite your ranks," bin Laden said in the audiotape. "Beware of division ... The Muslim world is waiting for you to gather under one banner."

Presuming that this message is aimed at the Sunnis in Iraq as is being noted in the early reporting, what does this tell us? Is the division he is trying to address the Sunni militants working with the US?

And, what would that mean?

Later: A little more in the BBC version: "The voice on the tape also admits that "mistakes have been made during holy wars". It adds: "Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes."

What mistakes? The attacks on civilians which severed the AQI/Sunni resistance?

I may be overreading, but this sounds like a plea for the Sunnis to come back to the Al Qaeda/jihadist cause. It doesn't read like a statement of strength.

Picture of the Day

(Demonstrators marched in Istanbul on Sunday to protest an ambush of Turkish soldiers by militants. (AFP/Getty/Bulent Kilic))

(NYTimes) Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, convened an emergency security meeting with Turkey’s top officials on Sunday night, in Ankara...

Ms. Rice called him shortly before the meeting began and asked him to “allow us a few days,” Mr. Erdogan said on national television.

(AP) "The PKK claimed Sunday it captured a number of Turkish soldiers. Eight soldiers were missing, according to private NTV television. There was no official confirmation of the capture."

(BBC) "a news agency believed to be linked to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) named seven of the missing troops.....

(Turkish) Newspapers have been showing photographs of the dead soldiers, most of them young conscripts, alongside angry headlines screaming for revenge."

Imagine being asked to sit on your hands with eight soldiers in enemy terrorist hands.

(Again, the PKK seems to want this invasion by Turkey and will likely continue the provocative attacks(terrorism) until they get it.)

UPDATE: (AP) "Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled toward the Iraq border on Monday after an ambush by rebel Kurds that killed 12 soldiers and left eight missing." (This doesn't mean they're going across, but it's more pressure.)

Musharraf government wants to keep bombing inquiry "in house"

When Rafik Hariri got bombed in Lebanon, the UN was quickly involved, primarily at US insistence.
A senior government official on Monday rejected a call from former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for U.S. and British experts to help investigate the devastating suicide attack on her homecoming procession.

The Thursday night bombing in Karachi killed 136 people, wounded hundreds more, and left open the possibility campaign rallies would be banned ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.....

Freewheeling rallies have long formed the core of campaigning in this South Asian nation.

And John Bolton was placed at the UN.....

Reading this article on John Bolton's petty book, all I keep thinking is that this is the guy George Bush fought to place at the UN.
Bolton lashes out at his opponents in the administration and overseas, repeatedly referring to European Union diplomats as "EUroids" and foes in State's East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau as "EAPeasers."

More important to history, he also blasts Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and others, but seriously, what sort of "diplomat" pens a rant including multiple, childish slurs like "EAPeasers"?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


(LATimes) The FBI is having to "rework" the cases against Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others because the "interrogation measures" at the time make alot of the evidence inadmissible.

(WaPo) In January, 2004, Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, withdrew "all but minimal assistance for diplomatic security" because he was in a fit as the State Dept had been given the rebuilding portfolio. Eventually, the dispute devolved into shouting matches (plural) "over issues such as their respective levels of patriotism."

(It really makes you wonder if the failed rebuilding wasn't partially the result of this split and an undermining lack of support from Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld wasn't fired for another 32 months. All of this in the middle of a war.)

And, on a lighter note, Americablog has a list of the charges in the Oral Roberts University scandal. (I'm still waiting on a fleshing out of the relationship between Ms. Roberts and the much mentioned "underage male.")

Picture of the Day - 2

(Medics try unsuccessfully to revive Ali Hussein, the victim of an overnight raid in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007. Backed by air power, U.S. forces targeting militants believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of two coalition soldiers raided the main Shiite district in Baghdad on Sunday. Iraqi officials said at least 13 people were killed, including women and children. The U.S. military said 49 militants were killed in the operation. (AP Photo/Adil al-Khazali))

The PKK is a terrorist organization

Absent from the "will they, won't they" discussion over whether the Turks will cross the Iraqi border, it seems rare that anyone mentions the actions of the PKK. Facing this current complex diplomatic situation between the Turks, Kurds, US, and Iraqis, what does the PKK do?
At least nine Turkish soldiers were killed in fighting with Kurdish militants after midnight on Sunday, and more soldiers were reported missing, prompting Turkey’s prime minister to call an emergency security summit. The deaths dramatically increase the pressure on the government to launch a military offensive into Iraq.

I'm willing to accept arguments about their motives or definitional implications of the terminology, but there can be no real question that the PKK is using tactics that we call terrorism. In the face of the Turkish threat, they are increasing their acts of provocative violence, attempting to draw the Turks into this cross border operation.

They want this. They want the Turks to cross that border. They want their fellow Iraqi Kurds to take up the fight. They are trying to ignite a larger war.

The only question to me is the degree to which the Kurdish leadership in Iraq supports this.

Tangling with escalation with Iran

(TimesOnline) "British special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces, defence sources have disclosed.

There have been at least half a dozen intense firefights between the SAS and arms smugglers, a mixture of Iranians and Shi’ite militiamen.

The unreported fighting straddles the border between Iran and Iraq and has also involved the Iranian military firing mortars into Iraq. UK commanders are concerned that Iran is using a militia ceasefire to step up arms supplies in preparation for an offensive against their base at Basra airport."

Picture of the Day

(AFP) Huckabee mixed humor, biblical references and the rhythms of a man used to the pulpit as he implored the crowd to put values above politics and not make expedient decisions.

He called for a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman and decried the "holocaust of liberalized abortion."

"We do not have the right to move the standards of God to meet cultural norms. We need to move the cultural norms to meet God's standards," he said, bringing the crowd to its feet.

Two days before in New Hampshire: (AP) "Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee boasted on Wednesday about his rock-and-roll resume.

The former Arkansas governor has opened for Willie Nelson and Percy Sledge and twice for Grand Funk Railroad."

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)