Is Turkey Using Chemical Weapons Against the Kurds?

Die Tageszeitung notes that Westerwelle had been informed of the chemical weapons allegations before an official trip he made to Turkey in late July. But Westerwelle seems uninterested in following up on the claims, presumably because if they are found to be true, they would severely complicate Turkey’s relationship with the European Union. Westerwelle has been pushing for Turkey to become a full EU member, but allegations of more human rights abuses in Turkey would delay accession talks even more.

The Turkish army has refused to comment on the allegations, but the Turkish Foreign Ministry says that “Turkey is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and its armed forces do not possess any biological or chemical weapons.” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the allegations are “PKK propaganda.”

Since 1984, more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict to achieve autonomy for Kurdistan. Turkish human rights groups and international medical organizations have long suspected that Ankara was using chemical weapons to suppress the PKK’s militant campaign.

[In 1988, the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq dropped poison gas on the Kurdish town of Halabja during the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War. That attack left around 5,000 dead and 11,000 injured, most of them Kurdish civilians.]

Meanwhile, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports that Turkey and Iran have signed a deal to supply weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah. According to Corriere della Sera, Turkey’s top spymaster, Hakan Fidan, met with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Taeb, to organize the dispatch of “sophisticated weapons, rockets and guns to Syria, to be forwarded to Lebanon,” where Iranian officers will monitor their delivery to Hezbollah.

The allegations come as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently criticized Fidan’s appointment as the new head of Turkish intelligence. According to the Jerusalem Post, Barak told a closed Labor Party meeting in early August that “in recent weeks a man who is a supporter of Iran was appointed to head Turkey’s Mossad. There are a fair number of our secrets that are in [Turkish] hands. The thought that in the past two months they could have been open to the Iranians is quite disturbing.” Barak’s remarks prompted the Turkish Foreign Ministry to summon the Israeli ambassador in Ankara to lodge a complaint.

Apart from a handful of news outlets, the mainstream media in Europe and the United States have mostly ignored these allegations. Now imagine the MSM reaction if it were Israel that was being accused of using chemical weapons.