Turkey warns 'other powers' it sees behind deadly PKK attack
Militants loyal to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) launched attacks on Turkish soldiers and police Wednesday, killing at least 24. Turkish forces responded by launching raids and airstrikes against the group in northern Iraq.
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The PKK "tends to escalate" attacks every fall, when they have "maximum maneuverability" before the onset of winter, says Fadi Hakura, a Turkey specialist at the Chatham House think tank in London.Skip to next paragraph
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The current PKK strikes are taking place at a time of rising political frustration among Turkey's ethnic Kurds – a political "failure of expectations" among Kurds, met by a "hardening" government stance, says Mr. Hakura – but Turkey's military action in northern Iraq is likely to be limited.
"One could expect a more extensive ground incursion into northern Iraq, but this has been tried repeatedly in the past and has not degraded substantially PKK capabilities of carrying out attacks in Turkey," says Hakura.
Camps in northern Iraq
The PKK has long operated from camps in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains. In the latest episode of the years-long conflict, Turkish forces have stepped up attacks against the PKK since August, often using intelligence provided by the United States.
The PKK killed 13 soldiers in a July ambush, and nine more in August – prompting retaliatory airstrikes that Turkey says killed 160 PKK rebels.
Relative peace has prevailed, however, while Turkey's Kurds waited for the results of a high-profile 2009 "Kurdish Opening" by Erdogan's ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP). While it made some progress on permitting Kurdish cultural rights for the first time, its development initiatives failed to meet expectations.
Past AKP electoral gains among Kurds in the region were wiped away in the national election last June, which gave Erdogan a third term, while also exposing the government's failure to address key causes of complaint.
One pro-Kurdish parliamentarian was stripped of his seat, while others were barred from the chamber, accused of illegal links to the PKK. It was a pattern repeated from the previous year, when Kurds waving PKK flags rallied across the region against the arrest of hundreds of sitting Kurdish mayors and politicians.
“Turkey’s most urgent need is peace,” said the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, which has been accused by authorities of links with the PKK, according to the Associated Press. “We call on both the government and the PKK to immediately halt the war, without losing a second.”