News / Middle East

    Tensions Rise as Turkey Continues Offensive Against PKK

    Dorian Jones
    ISTANBUL — Turkey's military is ratcheting up its offensive against Kurdish fighters seeking autonomy in the southeast, with warplanes and helicopters pummeling the mountainous region with bombs, forcing many villagers to flee their homes. Analysts claim the action is a bid to squelch any Kurdish advance should Syria fall.  

    Fighting erupted last week when PKK fighters set up checkpoints around the town of Semdinli in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

    Many villagers living in the mountainous rural region have been forced to flee their homes.

    "Children were crying and in a terrible state, they wanted to get away," one woman said.   "Every hour, every minute, every second there was a sound of cannons. They were bombing the area surrounding the village. We had to flee the village."

    Thousands of Turkish soldiers have been drafted into the region. Reporting and access to the region is limited and, as a result, there have been no official figures on casualties.

    The PKK, however, claims to have killed 49 soldiers and shot down two helicopters. But the army denies this, saying only two soldiers had died and that it had killed at least 37 rebels.

    "There is a serious operation going on there," said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay this week. "There is a strong operation continuing in the region."

    The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, fighting for minority cultural rights and operating mainly from bases from neighboring northern Iraq.

    International relations analyst Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University says the PKK appears to be gaining traction.

    "The PKK are not running back. They are trying to hold their ground," Ozel said. "The city is blockaded by our authorities, therefore something very serious must be going on there. Particularly in view of the fact that there is a lot going on with Syrian Kurds. That is important because the PKK brother organization, let's say, is very effective in northern Syria."

    The escalation in PKK operations coincides with Syrian Kurds seizing a number of towns last week from Syrian forces close to the Turkish border. Ankara voiced concern the region could fall under control of a Democratic Union Party which is accused of having links to the PKK.

    Metehan Demir, a defense journalist and Ankara bureau chief for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, says the PKK may be inspired by events of the Arab Spring.

    "Hundreds of militants try to capture a small city in an effort to show this area as a place of freedom, where similar things could happen in Turkey, like Tunisia or Syria of Libya," Demir said. "But of course Turkey will not allow such activities, therefore clashes are very, very tough."

    With the ongoing fighting with the PKK occurring close to Turkey's border with Iran, questions are being raised about how such large numbers of rebels are entering Turkey undetected.

    Bilateral relations between Tehran and Ankara have markedly deteriorated over Ankara's strong support for Syrian rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad - a key Iranian ally.

    A pro-government Syrian newspaper this week reported that Tehran had warned Ankara of serious repercussions if it intervened militarily in Syria.

    International relations expert Ozel pointed out that Tehran in the past has used the PKK as a means of pressure on Ankara by allowing the rebels to use its territory.

    "It's not all that surprising if the Iranians are annoyed with Turkey vis-a-vis Syria, maybe going back to the old days of assisting the PKK so long as it fits its purposes," Ozel said. "They've done it in the past until the late [19]90s."

    Observers warn the escalation in PKK operations in Turkey is adding a new destabilizing ingredient in an already increasingly unstable region, with various unresolved conflicts threatening to merge.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Taner from: NYC
    August 09, 2012 1:39 PM
    You guys know nothing about PKK. PKK has the absolute support of Turkish Kurds and EU recently confirmed that PKK ha snot been involved in heroine trade in Europe, and that this was again another smear campaign of Turkish Gov't! Get your facts right... In Dersim Massacre of 1938 the very same Turkey has killed 13600 Kurdish civilians and in 90s 17600 Kurdish business men, writers and professionals under mask of "war on terror"... Until 2000 Kurds were not allowed to speak their own language without enduring prosecution by Turkish Gov't. You CANNOT fight an entire folk by means of state terror and oppression! Viva Kurdistan!

    by: ADEL ALSHEAR from: STOCKHOLM SWEDEN
    August 05, 2012 8:06 AM
    THIS IS ANTI GROUP P K K COMMUNISTKRD GROUP ABD ALLH AWGLAN . THIS IS ANTI ABDALLH AWGLAN . THIS IS ANTI AWGLA N. THIS IS ANTI COMMUNIST KRD GROUP .
    In Response

    by: Taner from: NYC
    August 09, 2012 1:33 PM
    It is "OCALAN".. and learn some English before you spread crap in the forums and here!

    by: Buckeye219 from: USA
    August 04, 2012 3:32 PM
    You people know nothing about the PKK, they supply 90% of the Heroin to Europe, Kidnap and kill ethnic Kurds who do not join them and most of their fighters are under the age of 18. They are a pure terrorist organization and are funded by Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Greece.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeira
    August 04, 2012 3:05 PM
    So Turkey has such big problem at home? So all that support for the flotilla was to divert attention? So the Ayatollah regime has such a stranglehold on Turkey? No wonder, like Pilate and Herod Turkey needed a confrontation with Israel as a bet to win over Tehran. What a Shame! What is the difference between Europe's Turkey and the barbarian Syria? It is wrong for civilized Europe to admit countries based on economic health only. Freedom is the game of democracy, why not allow the Kurds their freedom? Why should Turkey be vying for Hamas while repressing the Kurds. What right has Turkey to send or support a flotilla to break Israel's blockade of a people that have vowed to destroy her while it (Turkey) is suppressing a people who only harmlessly ask for autonomy? This is the proof that had any other country (especially in the Middle East) been in Israel's position surrounded by avowed enemies and having Israel's endowment, they would have done far worse than Israel. Kudos to City of David. Blessed be the root of Jesse.
    In Response

    by: VATAN OGLU from: LONDON
    August 06, 2012 1:34 PM
    look here u retard its jokers like you what start problems . firstly dont talk about turkey being wrong we turks will protect our selfs against terrorists what ever the cost we fight for that mother land our mother land . pkk are terrorists they dont even like the kurds that live in the north iraq see them as outcasts do you get my drift go and educate your self first before acting the fool .also israel are just like the pkk terrorists they invaded and killed thousands for what autonomy as you say for what land. hamas is the state army just like turkeys army and the pkk dogs are just like the israel army trying to control a land which was never yours u see this is why turkey will always be hated by retards like you we fight for our land our people that came from that land not invaded but jews well they like to invade just like the flotilla boat been invaded in international waters, meaning not yours but once a dog always a dog u carry on supporting the dogs . bye retard

    by: Rob Swift from: at BritainGre
    August 04, 2012 2:09 PM
    The PKK accounts for (sells) 90% of the heroin traded. It comes into Europe via Turkey.
    In Response

    by: Taner from: NYC
    August 09, 2012 1:40 PM
    That was proven to be a LIE spread by Turkish government by EU very recently. Next... :)
    In Response

    by: Mickey Mouse from: Pistani
    August 04, 2012 5:34 PM
    Rob Swift you are incorrect.

    Most heroin gets into Europe from the CIS. Heroin is made in Afganistan, transported up Tajikistan/Uzbekistan and then on to Kazakhstan afterwhich its smuggled in Russia, from then on it
    goes into a border EU country, finally it reaches all of western europe through the EU.

    The heroin taken through the turkish/serbia route that your talking about lost its predominance long ago and acounts for 15-20% of EU heroin.

    The Kurdish people are fighting for independence. Thet are the largest ethnicity in the world without a state of their own.
    And for what its worth the CIA transports cocaine as do many many other governments.

    by: alitheturk from: clouds
    August 04, 2012 4:38 AM
    Ahmadinejad -Big trouble you allow pkk into Iran to go to Turkey. If Turkey support economic war against Iran the result in Iran will be revolution; which will not be healthy for present ruling groups in Iran

    by: amos33 from: USA
    August 04, 2012 2:57 AM
    This action of indiscriminate bombing of villages is Exactly what Assad of Syria is doing to the Syrian citizens. Recep Erdogan should be held to the same bar of justice as Assad is. When will the UN Security Councel slap sanctions on Turkey? This action by Recep Erdogan is a crime against humanity!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous from: USA
    August 05, 2012 10:08 AM
    Desidero--it would be interesting to see what the USA would do if a "small city" rebelled---wait, it's already happened! The US would send troops in and do whatever it took to take it back. If someone suggest the UN send in observers and condemn US leaders what would we do? Ignore them/kick them out. History is written by the winners...and so is law. There is no absolute fairness, just the biggest guys on the international block who make their rules "fair" for everyone.
    In Response

    by: desidero from: US
    August 04, 2012 11:20 AM
    You go try to capture one of small city in US and see what happens. You moron.

    by: moostaff from: Cyprus
    August 04, 2012 2:33 AM
    End Of The Line "Kurdish Spring?" More Like "PKK Kurdish Fried Kritters!" There Is No Escape! You Burned Your Own Bridges Gettin In Now Youre Trapped! The Turks Have Surrounded You! Now What? And Syrian PKK! A Message To You! "Youre Next!"

    by: Joseph Bloughberg from: USA
    August 04, 2012 1:46 AM
    The UN Security Council should immediately condemn the attacks by the Turkish regime and demand that the Turkish regime allow UN observers into the contested territory.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 04, 2012 10:29 AM
    what bright suggestion

    by: Gökhan from: Rotterdam
    August 04, 2012 12:29 AM
    I condemn attitude of VOA for PKK terrorists! They are not fighters aiming to provide a better, liberated life for Kurds, most of Kurds also know that. If Kurdish population hadn't believed that PKK is a terrorist group, Turkey were not be able to handle PKK, not at all. But most of Kurds love their state and PKK cannot change this.
    In Response

    by: Taner from: NYC
    August 09, 2012 1:44 PM
    Most Kurds know what Turkish gov has done to them for a century. Banning their language, prosecuting them, massacring them in Dersim and in 90s, torturing them. Get your facts right. And I ban you to speak on behalf of Kurds.

    The very same mentality you present even denies ever killing 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, yes yes! To this day you morons deny this genocide! And you expect people to believe your words? Give me a damn break kid...

    Kurdish people, like any other, have the right to basic human rights and to have their own HOME! Period...

    In Response

    by: Serheng from: istanbul
    August 04, 2012 5:10 PM
    In their own land, the Kurdish people have the right to free, dignified coexistence with the other nations on the basis of safety and equality. This innate and justified right derive from being a nation.

    The federal system is a system is the most realistic and inclusive system, which would suit the pluralist structure of Turkey. Kurdish problem can only be solved in an equitable solution in a federal system. Kurdish people can fully attain their fundamental rights in such a system.

    Therefore, in the new constitution, Turkey must be reconstructed on the axis of federalism and within this context the Kurdish people must be allowed self-governance with the recognition of federal status.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora