News / Middle East

Tension Escalates Between Turkey and Kurds

Flames are seen in a street after a blast killed several people and injured others, in central Ankara, Turkey, September 20, 2011.
Flames are seen in a street after a blast killed several people and injured others, in central Ankara, Turkey, September 20, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Turkey is continuing to amass soldiers on the Iraqi border ahead of an expected incursion against bases of the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. Violence has been escalating between the rebels, fighting for greater minority rights, and the Turkish armed forces. An explosion Tuesday in the capital, Ankara, that killed several people has been blamed by the government on the PKK.

Tuesday's explosion brought havoc to the Turkish capital, Ankara, as it damaged cars and shops near government buildings and a school.  The government says the chief suspect is the PKK, which seeks autonomy in southeastern Turkey.  

The response by the Turkish armed forces was swift, bombing rebel bases in the Kandil mountains in neighboring northern Iraq. For the last month, the region has been under sustained bombing by Turkish jets. The PKK has struck back in numerous fatal attacks inside Turkey in the last few weeks. The conflict is set to escalate even further if there is a major land incursion against the PKK bases in northern Iraq.

Bahcesehir University political scientist Cengiz Aktar said: "If we follow the governmental rhetoric, [a] cross-border operation is more likely.  The problem is that the Turkish conflict did not start in the Kandil mountains. It did not start with the PKK. It's a hundreds-year-old problem, and it could be solved only at [the] negotiation table."

Thousands of Turkish soldiers already are gathered on the Iraqi border. Ankara has launched dozens of cross-border operations in the past, trying to strike at Kurdish PKK bases inside Iraq, to little effect. But this time, the government also is putting diplomacy to work.  

Senior diplomats have been courting Iraqi Kurds for cooperation. Ankara has in the past few years markedly improved relations with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Tehran in the next week to lobby for neighboring Iran's support.  

Turkish parliamentary deputy Ertugral Kurkcu of the pro-Kurdish BDP party warns that the government would be making a fatal mistake if it carries out any cross-border operation.

"The basic demand of the population is not met. Weapons cannot counterpose demands for identity. Therefore, escalation in violence is going to increase violence in every corner of the country," said Kurkcu.

However, Soli Ozel, political columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Haberturk, said the government, which has committed itself to introducing pro-Kurdish reforms, will be looking to undermine Kurdish support for the PKK by exploiting their weariness with the conflict, which has raged for nearly three decades.

"The government is banking on the fatigue of the Kurdish population of the violence of the PKK, and there is enough indication that we've seen in the country, Kurd and Turk, basically [crying] out 'we no longer want to see violence,' that they are sick and tired of it," said Ozel.

But political scientist Aktar warned that the rising PKK violence may be only a taste of what could follow an escalation in the conflict by the government.

"It will put more oil on the fire. Very harsh terrorist action in the cities and towns in the country. This has very strong power to destabilize the government and the country," he said.

Observers say any military incursion into Iraq likely would occur in the next few weeks, before the onset of the harsh winter. The size and magnitude of any potential incursion is now seen as critical to determining the direction of a conflict that has seen more than 40,000 people killed since the PKK took up arms in 1984.


You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid