News / Middle East

    Turkey Crosses into Northern Iraq in Offensive Against Kurdish Rebels

    Turkish military helicopters are seen at a base in Cukurca, Hakkari, Turkey, at the border with Iraq, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011.
    Turkish military helicopters are seen at a base in Cukurca, Hakkari, Turkey, at the border with Iraq, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011.

    Turkey has widened its military incursion into neighboring northern Iraq. The operation, which started on Wednesday, came in response to the killing of 24 Turkish soldiers in attacks by the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, some of whom are based across the border in Iraq. Outrage over the killings among the Turkish public continues to grow.

    Hundreds of people chanted "Death to the PKK," as they marched down Istanbul's main street. One demonstrator expressed his anger over the killings. He said the PKK are evil and that people are out to support their 24 martyrs.  He said the PKK will never divide Turkey and that you can never kill enough of them.

    Similar protests against the PKK are occurring across the country. Wednesday's attacks by the rebel group were the deadliest since 1993 and have shocked the country.

    Radio stations played somber music and television stations cancelled comedies as an unofficial day of mourning was observed by many in Turkey. Houses and shops raised the Turkish flag as anger has led to a wave of nationalism that is being fueled by continuous news coverage of Turkey's ongoing military incursion into neighboring northern Iraq.

    Initially aimed at tracking down the Kurdish rebels who carried out Wednesday's attacks, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated it is now a far more extensive operation.

    He said Turkey's military forces are carrying out the land and air operation in a decisive manner.  In televised remarks Thursday, the prime minister said the operation is part of the solution to terrorism, that it is the first step toward reaching the end result.

    Turkey's armed forces say 22 battalions are involved in the incursion. Experts say that could mean between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers may now be in Iraqi territory, making it Turkey’s largest incursion into Iraq since 2008.

    A senior Iraqi Kurdish official, Nechirvan Barzani, flew to Ankara for talks and pledged to cooperate with Turkey. But Ankara is looking for more than words from the Iraqi authorities.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in response to a similar pledge from his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, said Turkey wants concrete steps, not words. But as the Turkish military incursion continues to grow, retired brigadier general Haldun Solmazturk, a veteran of previous operations into Iraq, warns of their limited effect.

    "A small-scale operation focusing mainly on PKK elements would achieve above all a psychological effect that would carry the message to [the] PKK that northern Iraq is not a safe haven. But honestly, the [existence] of the PKK element in a couple of camps in northern Iraq [is] just (a) small extension of the major problem inside Turkey," Solmazturk said.

    The Turkish government, keen to ease public outrage over the PKK attacks, appears for now firmly committed to pursuing a military solution to the nearly three-decade-long conflict. But political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University says that along with anger, there is also fatigue among the people regarding the seemingly endless conflict,

    "There is a general fed-up in the Turkish public opinion.  Everyone, including those voices who are not necessarily pro-Kurdish, [is] calling for peaceful solutions. The whole question [of] who is capable of going back to the negotiation table. And we will see quite shortly whether that will happen or not," Aktar said.

    For now, observers say that seems unlikely with the Turkish prime minister not only attacking the PKK but also the country's main legal Kurdish party, the BDP.  Mr. Erdogan is accusing the party of being a voice of terrorism and is calling on its leaders to condemn the PKK as terrorists. The BDP has refused to do so, instead calling for an immediate end to fighting by both sides.

    You May Like

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora