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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid