while the Turkish army accelerates its attacks against the Kurdish stronghold on the Iraqi border, and political relations between Turkey and Israel have reached rock bottom, a delegation of the Turkish army is currently visiting Israel for training sessions on the Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The Turkish Airforce is using this pilotless plane against the Kurdish opposition.
Turkish newspapers reported today that the Turkish military delegation arrived for a two-week visit to Israel, during which time Israel will be briefing on the “Heron” aircraft. The contemplated UAV’s are four out of ten that Israel has undertaken to deliver to Turkey as part of a previously signed agreement between the two countries.
The delegation arrived from Turkey despite reports of an alleged freeze of all of Turkey’s security deals with Israel. Many recent reports in the Israeli Globes newspaper have revealed that the transactions that were supposedly frozen according to Turkish newspaper reports have been in fact already completed, or never existed in the first place. Defense officials believe that this is a spin by the Erdogan government designed to test to the reaction from the West.
The UAV deal is a 180 million dollar agreement which was signed this past February, despite the deteriorating relations between the two countries. Turkish military delegations in Israel will now attempt to use the UAV technology, and to study its parts and equipment. According to Turkish media reports in recent days, the Turkish army uses the same UAVs acquired in Israel to attack the PKK, the Kurdish organization seeking to create an independent state in the Southern region, east of Turkey, where they have a majority. Last week the Turkish army bombed a 2-3km area in cities in the northern Iraqi area where Kurds live.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by the EU. Its leader, Abdullah Ocho-Ian is currently held in a prison located in an isolated island in Turkey. At least 20 Kurds were killed last week, news agencies reported, while the PKK was responsible for the deaths of a number of Turkish soldiers. The PKK responded with an attack which killed more than four Turkish military personnel. Last night the BBC reported that Erdogan has pledged to “exterminate” the rebels of the Kurdish PKK. Erdogan said that they will “drown in their own blood”.
Ironically, in a speech given several hours prior to the writing of this post, Erdogan hinted that Israel is in fact supporting the PKK opposition.