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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid