Kurdish War: May 19, 2005


The Turkish government reported that its troops engaged a group of PKK guerrillas on May 13 in Tunceli province (southeast Turkey). Nine PKK rebels were killed in the firefight. The firefight occurred as part of an anti-guerrilla operation involving at least 10,000 Turkish soldiers. About twenty have died in fighting with PKK gunmen in the last week. The Turkish army believes that some 1,500 PKK gunmen have come out of Iraqi camps, into southwestern Turkey, where another several thousand armed PKK members already live.

Meanwhile on the political front, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on May 12 that PKK Kurd leader "Apo" Ocalan did not receive "a fair trial." Turkey is contemplating a new trial. Several analysts in Europe (including a report from Turkey) said the court ruling may "give the PKK a political boost." That makes sense. At the same, there also appears to be a large segment of Turkey's Kurdish population that's tired of the PKK. Ocalan is regarded as a "man from the past." A new trial might "revitalize" Ocalan politically.

In what is probably a further sign of the increasingly friendly relations between Greece and Turkey, the Greeks have of late been cracking down on various Kurdish organizations that have offices in Greece. While they have been careful not to avoid using Greek soil for operational purposes, several Kurdish nationalist organizations have maintained liaison offices in the country which are generally believed to be conduits for money and other resources.


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