Turkish media reported on Monday, August 21, that during Iranian Chief of Staff, General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri's official visit to Turkey last week, Ankara and Tehran discussed the likelihood of conducting a joint operation against the PKK this autumn.
“A joint operation with Iran against terror groups that are posing threat is always on the agenda,” Erdogan told reporters on Monday, August 21.
“We have discussed the details of what kind of work we can carry out together. There are damages that the PKK and its branch in Iran (PJAK) cause. We will carry out these discussions with the understanding that the threats can be defeated with the cooperation of both countries in a short time,” Erdogan said on his way to Jordan.
As Turkish sources maintain, it was General Bagheri who came up with the proposal for an anti-PKK joint operation.
According to Turkey’s Daily Sabah, “Reportedly, Chief of Staff Gen. Bagheri had voiced Iran's concerns regarding the political and military support the U.S. provides to the PKK, expressing the thought that weapons and ammunition handed over to the PKK by the U.S. could be used against Iran in the coming years”.
Daily Sabah, without mentioning any specific sources said, “The Iranian army chief also pointed out that the PKK has reached the capacity of freely transporting weapons in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. He highlighted the urgent need for a joint counterterror operation against PKK bases in the Qandil Mountains and in the region of Sinjar”.
Consequently, Daily Sabah asserted, “Iran will finalize the details of its action plan by Sept. 5 and, in accordance with the plan, as many as nine joint operations are expected to be carried out in the last three months of the year”.
Tehran has not yet reacted to President Erdogan’s comments and Turkish media reports.
Meanwhile, Tasnim, a news website run by the Islamic Revolution Guars Corps (IRGC), said, “Major General Baqeri's trip to Ankara came days ahead of a planned visit by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been strained by Washington's support for Kurdish YPG fighters”.
According to Tasnim, “Turkey says the YPG is indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than 30 years. Washington sees it as a vital ally in its purported fight to defeat Deash (IS)”.
IRGC’s General Bagheri’s official visit took place at a time when Turkey had started building of a 90-mile, 6ft wide and 9ft high wall along its border with Iran, following the construction of a similar barrier already standing on the border with Syria.
The wall is expected to stop PKK fighters to use Iranian territory as a safe haven for launching attacks against Turkey, Ankara insists.
PKK was established in 1984 and it has since been fighting for autonomy in mainly Kurdish populated area in southeast Turkey. During 33 years of bloody clashes between Turkish army and PKK militants more than 40,000 mainly Kurd civilians have lost their lives.
In 2015, a three years old ceasefire between the two sides was broken and armed clashes were resumed in the area.