Turkish Parliament extends military's cross-border Iraq mandate

Hurriyet Daily News

"[The government] seems to want peace, but it's bringing up the persistency of war. It is putting the Kurdish issue into a deadlock," said BDP deputy Akın Birdal..."

Turkey's Parliament passed a bill extending the military's mandate to conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, for another year.

The secret session was closed to the press, and details will remain private for 10 years according to Parliament regulations. With 447 deputies in attendance, the decision was passed with 14 objections and one abstention.

According to reports, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, all lent their approval. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, was the only party that stood against the extension.

"[The government] seems to want peace, but it's bringing up the persistency of war. It is putting the Kurdish issue into a deadlock," said BDP deputy Akın Birdal.

"The president is talking about the issue in the United States, Syria and Germany. But he does not speak to the Turkish and Kurdish people about the subject," BDP deputy Sırrı Sakık said.

Party leaders of the CHP, MHP and BDP were all in attendance but AKP leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan was absent due to a trip to Pakistan.

Also in attendance was former CHP leader Deniz Baykal, who resigned from the party leadership after a sex video scandal broke loose last spring.

Interior Minister BeÅŸir Atalay was also present to give information regarding the steps taken by the government against terrorism.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

The new extension will expire on Oct. 17, 2011. Tuesday’s extension was third since the initial decision in 2007.

Suat Kılıç of the AKP caused a small crisis after his Twitter updates from the closed session made headlines.

Kılıç, updating his Twitter during the session using his cellular phone, criticized the BDP for trying to portray the terrorist organization as innocent in a bid to demand rights, laws and democracy.

Following media reports that the secret session was "leaked," Kılıç released a statement saying that his personal opinions did not represent those of the General Assembly.