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Terrorism & Security

PKK attacks: Turkey's leader vows to ‘annihilate’ Kurdish rebels

After the PKK attacks killed 12 Turkish soldiers this weekend, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that his government will not rest until the Kurdish rebels are 'annihilated.'

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The so-called "Kurdish opening," announced last year, has faltered amid an opposition outcry that Ankara is bowing to the PKK, as well as persistent rebel attacks and a judicial onslaught on Kurdish activists.

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The Monitor reported that the government’s initiative included easing restrictions on Kurdish-language television stations and Kurdish language university faculties, and allowing towns to use their original Kurdish names.

What the PKK wants

The PKK was formed in the 1970s to press for the creation of an independent state for Kurds, who number about 30 million and inhabit parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the group has largely abandoned its called for an independent state and now would like to achieve some level of autonomy for Kurds.

The group took up guerilla tactics in the 1980s, and the US and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization. Roughly 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Turkey since 1984.

An op-ed in the Turkish English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman Sunday argued that the PKK’s use of violence has caused it to lose popular support, and the government’s initiative should not be sidetracked by the violence.

What must be discussed today is the new war launched by the PKK, which should not be an excuse for shelving the “initiative.” Otherwise, everyone will lose. Rather, the initiative must be fully maintained, without allowing common sense to be distracted by terror. Violence should not be allowed to have practical results, or any result at all.

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