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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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.Skip to next paragraph
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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.”
A major shift in regional dynamics
Turkey's acrimonious political fight with its Kurdish population takes place against a backdrop of a changing regional dynamic that is being redefined by Arab Spring revolutions and a Turkey that is becoming a regional powerhouse.
Concurrently next door, a months-long antiregime uprising has already left 3,000 dead and continues in Syria, where the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has threatened to make Turkey pay for hosting the Syrian opposition.
Syria's pro-democracy movement met to form the Syrian National Council in Istanbul more than two weeks ago. The assassination 10 days ago of a prominent Syrian Kurd in Qamishli, a Syrian border town in Turkey, was mourned also among Syrian exiles in Istanbul, who said the killing would galvanize the opposition.
On the other side of the ethnic Kurdish regions, Iran says it has damaged the Iranian arm of the PKK, known as PJAK, in a series of recent cross-border strikes.
Iran is at loggerheads with Ankara for Turkey's recent agreement to host parts of a US-engineered regional missile-defense system, which aims to protect against any potential Iranian missile attack.
As the eastern anchor of the NATO alliance, Turkey has the second-largest ground force after the US. But an intelligence-sharing deal – in which the US since 2007 has provided Turkey with real-time intelligence of PKK movements in northern Iraq – is proving to be far from fail-safe.
Negotiations have been under way between Turkey and the US to move the US drones from Iraq – where US forces are being withdrawn by the end of the year – to new bases in Turkey.
“As a friend and ally, the United States will continue to stand with the people and government of Turkey in their fight against the PKK,” US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said is a statement. “No political cause, and no religion, can justify terrorism.”
Regardless of the ongoing intelligence-sharing, those efforts could not prevent the eight coordinated PKK attacks carried out on Wednesday.
"Despite the most sophisticated intelligence capabilities and technology, the mountains of northern Iraq afford enormous protection for guerrilla-type activity conducted by the PKK," says Hakura of Chatham House. "It's similar to the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan: very rugged terrain, lots of caves, and enormous protection for PKK combatants."