Turkey offers reforms for Kurdish minority
Long-simmering tensions with Kurdish militant separatists led to a week-long incursion into northern Iraq in February to target bases.
The Turkish government has announced a significant aid package for the country's Kurdish population just weeks after it ended a military incursion into northern Iraq. That fight had been aimed at rooting out militants fighting for an independent Kurdish state.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The government appears to be appealing for greater support among Turkey's Kurdish population and preventing a domestic backlash over the recent attack. Turkey has long struggled to accept its Kurdish minority seeing them as a separatist threat. Approximately 12 million Kurds live in Turkey, equaling about a fifth of its population.
Since the US invasion of Iraq, Turkey's political and military establishments have grown more wary of Kurdish separatism following the establishment of a strong Kurdish entity in northern Iraq. From there, Turkish officials claimed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has launched military raids on Turkey. The PKK is outlawed in Turkey and has been labeled a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
Turkey's fight against PKK militants has put the US in a somewhat uncomfortable position, as its strongest allies in the Iraq war are the Army's Kurdish contingents, reported The Christian Science Monitor. But following numerous clashes in the fall of 2007, US officials agreed to allow a "very limited," week-long invasion of northern Iraq by the Turkish Army in February, the BBC reported.
The aim [was] to isolate the organisation and prevent it using northern Iraq as a launch pad for attacks on Turkish soil.
Turkey's recent announcement about the planned economic and cultural aid package will be formally presented April 6 when Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visits southeast Turkey, one former adviser told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
"Mr. Prime Minister will make very important statements in Diyarbakir. He will deliver important initiatives to promote Kurdish culture and language as well as a comprehensive package for the region. He will say Turkey has entered the solution process. We are working on that."
Turkey's government is planning a broad series of investments worth as much as $12 billion in the country's largely Kurdish southeast, in a new economic effort intended to create jobs and draw young men away from militancy.
The projects will include a Kurdish language state television channel, a measure that Kurds in Turkey have sought for years as they have battled with restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language. The New York Times also reports the government will make significant investments in local infrastructure.
Mr. Erdogan is still identifying funds for the economic effort, which was started years ago by a previous administration but languished. The state will invest between $11 billion and $12 billion over five years to build two large dams and a system of water canals, complete paved roads and remove land mines from the fields along the Syrian border.