News / Europe

    Turkey Steps Up Campaign Against PKK on Iraq Border

    A woman looks at pictures of people killed by shelling by Turkish warplanes in the northern town of Rania in Sulaimaniya province, 260 km (161miles) northeast of Baghdad, August 23, 2011
    A woman looks at pictures of people killed by shelling by Turkish warplanes in the northern town of Rania in Sulaimaniya province, 260 km (161miles) northeast of Baghdad, August 23, 2011

    The conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebel group the PKK continues to escalate as the Turkish armed forces in last few days have being bombarding PKK bases in neighboring northern Iraq. The conflict is set to further escalate with growing speculation that Turkish armed forces are preparing to cross into Iraq.

    This week, 15 Turkish soldiers were injured by land mines. The attack was blamed on the Kurdistan Workers Party and is the latest event behind the escalation between the Turkish armed forces and the PKK.

    For the last few days, the Turkish air force has been bombarding PKK bases in neighboring Iraq, claiming they have killed nearly a 100 rebels. The PKK claim only three have died.

    Further escalation expected

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday promised it's just the beginning.

    "Carrying out operations for the peace of the nation is the most natural right of the government," he said. "It is an obligation and we will do whatever it takes.

    The conflict with the PKK, which is fighting for greater Kurdish rights, has been steadily escalating over the last couple of months.

    In the run up to last June's general election, the army killed nearly two dozen rebels, a move that was seen as strengthening the prime minister's political power.

    The rebels vowed revenge and after ending their unilateral cease-fire after the June election, killed nearly 40 soldiers.

    Policy criticized

    The spiral of violence worries member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish  BDP Ertugral Kurkcu.

    "The prime minister has a wrong idea that Kurds understand from force. But he is totally wrong, so this incorrect policies are going to be corrected in open struggle. This is only way the prime minister is leaving for the Kurdish people," said Kurkcu.


    Analysts expect the  violence to escalate farther with a widely expected cross border operation by the Turkish army into neighboring northern Iraq. The bulk of the PKK rebels are based in the mountainous region.

    In the last couple of days, over 2,000 soldiers have been moved up to the border. But Brigadier Haldun Solmazturk, a veteran of some of the 30 plus Iraqi operation carried out since the 90s, says they have limited effect.

    "The problem is mainly a Turkish problem inside Turkish borders.  I mean the existence of PKK elements in the Kandil mountains is just a small extension of the major problems inside Turkey.  So we have to accept that.  And we have to avoid giving the Turkish people a false impression that once we cross the border, even way into northern Iraq and imprison their leaders, and I mean all of sudden the whole problem will evaporate; this is not the case," said Solmazturk.

    There are diplomatic risks to any Iraqi incursion, according to international relations expert Soli Ozel. Although he says with Turkey's allies both in the U.S. and Europe remaining quiet over the Turkish armed forces bombardment of Iraqi territory, they suggests Ankara will be given a free hand.

    "I don't think there will much pressure on Turkey to keep it short on too many protests. On the other hand how that will play out in the long run with the Iraqi government whether that will generate problems with the Kurdistan regional government and how will effect Turkey's own Kurds, remains to be seen," said Ozel.

    Overture towards Iraqi Kurdish regional government

    Ankara had in the past few years developed groundbreaking strong diplomatic and trade ties with the Iraqi Kurdish regional government.

    But the Iraqi Kurdish leadership have already strongly condemned Turkey's airstrikes on its territory and said Ankara should solve its problems with its Kurdish minority in its own territory.

    Ozel says the Turkish prime minister's increasingly tough stance toward the PKK could be part of a wider change in policy towards the Kurdish minority.

    "They prefer to be proven right if they say PKK and the Kurdish question are two very different things. Remember the prime minister lately said, my Kurdish brothers have problems and there is no Kurdish problem, which is a way step back from where he was in 2005. I think he is deluding himself," said Ozel.

    Two years ago, the Turkish prime minister unveiled an initiative to resolve the PKK conflict peacefully, but that broke down. Following the election again, Erdogan tentatively suggested that Kurdish demands could be met with a new constitution . But observers say hope of peaceful solution to the 27 year conflict are fast diminishing with rising fears of a further escalation in the fighting.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora