Kurdish War: Border War in Turkey


April 26, 2007: So far this spring the Turkish military has been very effective in limiting PKK guerilla operations to areas in southeastern Turkey and along the Iraqi border. Apparently, Turkish troops have been ambushing squad-sized PKK units (three to ten fighters) as they leave mountain hideouts in Turkey, or move across the border from Iraq. The PKK can still infiltrate into Turkey, mine roads, and engage in firefights, but the level of resistance presents no grave military threat. Still, Turkey claims that the PKK have approximately 2,000 fighters inside Turkey, and that is not an insignificant number of armed men threatening the peace.

Terror strikes, particularly those against tourist centers along Turkey's coast and in Istanbul, are a problem. They exact an economic price and take place throughout the rest of the country, with Istanbul a frequent target. Stopping terror attacks requires accurate, timely intelligence and rigorous police work as well as military actions. Turkey has apparently concluded that the only way to end the terror strikes is to destroy the PKK infrastructure in southeastern Turkey, which means destroying its support bases in northern Iraq. The PKK certainly remains a political problem for Turkey. The EU has made political liberalization in Turkey a requirement for full EU membership and Turkey's relationship with its Kurdish minority remains a huge political liability.

April 25, 2007: The US said that Iraq's Kurds are not helping stop PKK violence on Turkey's border. Though the rhetoric has cooled in the past week, Turkey continues to send signals that it is preparing to launch an attack (an "incursion") into northern Iraq. The Turkish military estimates that the PKK has between 3,000 and 4,000 fighters in northern Iraq. The US is trying to "de-escalate" the political rhetoric and prevent an armed clash in northern Iraq.

April 22, 2007: Rumors abound that a "timetable" exists for a Turkish military strike into northern Iraq. However, there is little solid information as to what the "timetable" might be. "Within weeks" would put the operation sometime in late May. Approximately 10,000 Turkish troops and security police are currently engaged in counter-guerrilla operations along the Turkey-Iraq border.


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