Juan Cole on situation in North Iraq

03/25/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

The premier of Iraq's Kurdish regional government today backed a call by the country's president for Turkish Kurdish rebels holed up in the region to lay down their arms.

That follows a comment earlier this week from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, himself a Kurd, warning the rebels based in Iraq's northern mountains to lay down their guns or leave the country.

Talabani said during a visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul that the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) "must become involved in political and parliamentary life instead of resorting to weapons, since using guns does wrong to Kurds and Iraqis."

The PKK is labeled a terrorist group by much of the international community. It took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives.

Ankara has often accused the U.S,-backed Iraqi Kurds and their autonomous administration in northern Iraq of tolerating and even aiding the rebels from across the border with Turkey.

Even though President Barack Obama recently announced plans to pull all combat troops out of Iraq in the next year and half, there is still concern about what might happen in northern Iraq, which is run by Kurds.

Juan Cole is an internationally respected historian and blogger of Informed Comment. His new book is called Engaging the Muslim World. We spoke with him earlier today on this subject.

We will bring you more from the interview on an upcoming newscast.

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