Attack raises questions over intel sharing with US

June 21, 2010, Monday/ 16:43:00
A Saturday attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on a military post near the town of Şemdinli -- a mountainous region where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran meet -- has prompted questions about the efficiency of intelligence-sharing on terrorist activities between the US and Turkey, which Washington recently said was being maintained “on an ongoing and continual basis.”

A number of Turkish daily newspapers on Sunday, questioned whether the US had cut real-time intelligence sharing before the latest attack, without providing a sure answer, and asked military analysts about their opinions on the issue.

Armağan Kuloğlu, a retired general and military analyst, told The Associated Press that there appeared to be a deficiency in the intelligence and that the advance of the rebels should have been detected. Among those Turkish newspapers, the daily Milliyet asked how it was possible not to detect a 250-300 person strong presence of PKK members pouring into the region and launching the attack if real-time intelligence sharing was continuing, as US officials have told the daily.

Most reports recalled that, Maj. Gen. Fahri Kır, the head of the Turkish military’s internal security operations, stated on Friday, only a day before the lethal terrorist attack, that “the intelligence sharing mechanism with US military authorities has been operating in an extremely successful way.”

In his statement which came at a press conference held at the military headquarters, Kır also said, “Any problem on this issue is out of question.”

After recalling Kır’s remarks, an online news portal, www.t24.com.tr, asked basic questions on the issue on Sunday: “How could the 300 PKK members, which were in the immediate vicinity of the [military] unit and which managed to infiltrate the front, not be seen? If there is no problem in intelligence sharing, how could such a large terrorist group not be noticed? Were there no Herons, night vision systems and thermal cameras? Isn’t the trilateral mechanism between US, Iraq and Turkey working?”

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