Kurd Leader Charges Consistent Intimidation

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–An alliance of pro-Kurdish parties charged that the conviction of former members for fraud in last year’s general elections was unjustified and amounted to intimidation ahead of local polls in 2004.

"Ahead of every election–dissident parties are either banned or their legitimacy is called into question," Akin Birdal–head of the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) and a leading rights activist–told a press conference.

He was referring to an appeals court ruling Monday which upheld 23-month jail sentences on four former leaders of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party–the Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP)–on charges of falsifying documen’s in order to stand in the general elections on November 3.

Meanwhile–Turkey and the United States agreed on an "action plan" on Thursday–that includes military options to purge northern Iraq of armed Turkish Kurd rebels.

Asked whether the "action plan" included military options–deputy undersecretary of Turkey’s foreign ministry Nabi Sensoy said: "No option is ruled out for PKK’s eradication from northern Iraq. Everything is in."

Also on Thursday–a US official said Turkey’s government has promised the United States it would refrain from any unilateral military action in northern Iraq in return for $8.5 billion in loans for its frail economy.

The country’s powerful armed forces–which have long reserved the right to intervene in the Iraqi Kurdish enclave if Turkish national security is threatened–said they would feel deeply uneasy at any such undertaking.

The US official said the loan deal–signed last week–mirrored laws passed by the US Congress on April 16–which said US financing meant Turkey must cooperate in stabilizing Iraq and not intervene unilaterally in the country’s north.

"The deal says basically what the (April 16) law says," he said. "There is nothing new–hidden or secret in what the agreement says," he added.

One of Turkey’s top generals–land forces commander Aytac Yalman–said he had not been officially informed of such a link between the loan and Turkish operations in northern Iraq. "This issue causes deep unease. I feel as uneasy about this as any other citizen would to tie the $8.5 billion to such an issue," Yalman told reporters in Ankara.

In the mean time–Turkish parliamentary sources said the government is planning to call on parliament next week to approve the dispatch of troops to neighboring Iraq to serve in an international security force.

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