Thursday, March 26, 2009

PJAK's Terrorist Designation

I missed this when it happened last month, but the Obama administration has designated PJAK, a Kurdish anti-Iranian terrorist group, a terrorist group:
"Although the Bush administration added the PKK to the list of designated terrorist organizations, it was more tolerant toward PJAK, which led to allegations that America and Israel supported PJAK as a way to destabilize Iran. [9] Shortly after coming to power, the Obama administration designated PJAK as a terrorist organization controlled by the PKK. By this decision, Washington signaled that it would adopt a more principled approach in the fight against terrorism. This development also signifies a change in the American attitude towards the intricate relationships between Turkey, Iran and the PKK. Turkey welcomed the decision and saw it as the fruit of its new policy of building international coalitions to eradicate PKK terror, particularly through closer collaboration with the United States and northern Iraqi Kurdish authorities. A statement from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlined Ankara’s satisfaction with the U.S. acknowledgment of PKK-PJAK ties (Anadolu Ajansi, February 6).

"The PKK, in contrast, increasingly feels that it is being encircled as a result of recent developments. PJAK officials condemned the U.S. designation and claimed that for over a year the United States already had a de facto policy of pleasing Turkey and Iran by intensifying pressure on PKK and PJAK. The organization noted that northern Iraqi authorities were also supportive of this new policy (Gundem Online, February 12; February 17). PJAK challenged the Obama administration, arguing that the terrorist designation would not deter their struggle."

The article has a lot of interesting information about the relationships among Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Kurdish groups. What's missing is the question of whether this move might have been a quiet early step toward rapprochement with Iran.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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