Kurdish War: The Price

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June 26, 2012: The Turkish government has spent the last two months searching for a new political tactic to increase pressure on the PKK to disarm. The government seems to have settled on using one that it has already been using, albeit more vigorously: Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Turkish diplomats have begun talking as if they believe Iraqi Kurdistan will eventually become a separate nation. The talk understandably upsets the Iraqi government. While it delights many (though not all) Iraqi Kurds, the Turkish government is demanding a high price for this support. If Iraqi Kurdistan wants to be independent, it will have to get rid of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The code language is that Irbil (the city the KRG uses as its capital) must deal with Qandil (the Qandil Mountains, where the PKK holes up in northern Iraq). However this may play out, in the short term Turkey is driving another wedge between Iraqi Kurds and the PKK. Meanwhile, in Turkey itself, both the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which currently runs Turkey, and the Republican Peoples Party (CHP, the main opposition), have agreed to support greater cultural rights for Turkish ethnic minorities. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also supports the initiative. (See report of June 12.)

June 25, 2012: One Turkish soldier was killed and three others were wounded in a series of night-time firefights with PKK guerrillas in Hakkari province (southeastern Turkey).

June 24, 2012: Turkish Air Force warplanes struck nine PKK targets in northern Iraq. Most of the targets were in the Qandil mountain region.

June 20, 2012: Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) asked the PKK to end its armed battle with the Turkish government. Turkish fighter-bombers and attack helicopters struck several PKK targets in northern Iraq.

June 19, 2012: Turkish security forces and PKK rebels fought three sharp battles in Hakkari province. A PKK force of around 100 fighters broke into three separate groups and attacked three Turkish Army observation posts at dawn. Eight Turkish soldiers were killed and 19 wounded, along with ten PKK men. Turkish forces killed eight more PKK fighters in subsequent firefights later in the day that took place near the Iraqi border. Apparently the attacking force was withdrawing to the south.

June 12, 2012: The Turkish government will now permit the teaching of Kurdish in Turkish public schools, as an optional course. Both the AKP and the CHP supported the decision. The announcement is part of a political campaign to assure ethnic cultural rights in Turkey.

June 8, 2012: A firefight occurred in Hakkari province after a Turkish security patrol discovered PKK rebels planting a landmine. At least one PKK rebel died in the firefight.

June 7, 2012: PKK rebels established a roadblock on the Diyarbakir-Bingol highway and kidnapped three people, one of them a Turkish soldier.

June 4, 2012: - The PKK released a kidnapped British tourist who PKK rebels abducted in southeastern Turkey on June 2.

May 24, 2012: A Turkish court convicted Leyla Zana, a Kurdish member of parliament, of spreading PKK propaganda. The conviction carries a ten-year prison sentence. There is a catch. Since Zana is a member of parliament, she cannot be imprisoned. Her sentence can only begin when she is no longer in parliament. Zana was in jail from 1994-2004. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

May 22, 2012: The Iraqi national government informed Turkey that it cannot begin construction on a new crude oil and natural gas pipeline in Iraqi Kurdistan unless it gets the permission of the Iraqi government. The Turkish government recently reached an agreement to build the pipeline with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The pipeline would run from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey. The Iraqi government has called the discussions a provocation by Turkey, though it said it did not have a problem per se with the new pipeline. The Iraqi government insists the Iraqi constitution calls for international deals like this to have the central government’s permission.

May 20, 2012: The Turkish government said that the air attack which killed 34 Kurds last year (a group of smugglers, not PKK rebels) in Uludere district (southeastern Turkey) was properly ordered, though the attack itself proved to be a tragic error. The government still has not stated precisely who ordered the air attack. However, proper targeting procedures were followed. The government stated that the targeting data came from a reconnaissance drone operated by the Turkish military. Kurdish political activists continue to demand a full, pubic investigation of the incident.

 

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