Kurdish War: Being Practical


January 12, 2009: Turkey has created a new special section within its Interior Ministry designed to coordinate "strategic efforts" against terrorism. The Security Undersecretariat will not direct any operations, but will be responsible for "research, analysis and assessments." The Security Undersecretariat will deal numerous terrorist organizations besides the PKK. However, within the last three years, several Turkish security analysts (including several inside the military) publicly argued that Turkey had failed to appropriately use "psychological" and political strengths to defeat the PKK. The critics were stating the obvious. It looks like the Security Undersecretariat may be an institutional response to that criticism.

January 7, 2009: For years Turkey has been urging – often angrily-- western Europe to crack down on the PKK. Over the past two years the political pressure has produced some results. Germany has long been a hotbed of PKK political and financial activity. German prosecutors announced that in late December 2008 German police arrested a senior PKK "coordinator" who ran what German authorities described as "organizational, financial, propaganda, and personnel" operations throughout Germany for the PKK.   The Germans charged "Huseyin A." (alias Huseyin Colak) with belonging to a criminal organization, ie, the PKK. Turkish officials have argued that financial support from Europe (from the Kurdish communities in Europe) and criminal activities (such as narcotics sales) provide the cash that buys weapons and supplies for the PKK.

January 6, 2009: Turkish aircraft hit PKK bases in northern Iraq (bases near Aquwan, which was also struck by artillery fire from Iran). Iranian artillery also shelled a PKK base near Maradu. The Turkish and Iranian governments have shared information on operations against PKK and PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) bases in northeastern Iraqi territory. Given its location, it is likely Aquwan serves as a logistics and supply point for both the PKK and PJAK.

January 4, 2009: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, while visiting Iran, said that his government will not allow Iraqi territory to be used to threaten neighboring countries. Specifically, Maliki said his government "will not let any terrorist party harm its relations with neighboring governments." Iran and Turkey have demanded that Iraq act to stop Kurdish rebels from using bases in northern Iraq.

January 1, 2009: Turkish state television has begun broadcasting a 24-hour a day channel in Kurdish. The channel uses the predominant Kurdish dialect, Kurmanji.

December 28, 2008: Turkish aircraft hit PKK bases in Khwakurk and Khnera (in northern Iraq).

December 26, 2008: The Turkish military said that the PKK had suffered "heavy" losses in a series of airstrikes on its base areas in northern Iraq. The airstrikes began on December 16.

December 25, 2008: PKK guerrillas killed three Turkish soldiers in a firefight near the town of Cizre. 17 other soldiers were wounded in the battle.

December 24, 2008: The Turkish and Iraqi government agreed to increase "cooperation" to stop the PKK from using bases in northern Iraq. Iraq has promised Turkey that it will act to curb PKK operations. This promise includes intelligence cooperation and permitting Turkey to maintain surveillance bases in northern Iraq. The Iraqi government says that it will "continue to fight against terrorism" but Turkey insists on seeing results. What Turkey wants is Iraq help in eliminating PKK base areas completely. That's tough for the Iraqi government to do, since Iraqi Kurds share ethnic and cultural bonds with Turkish Kurds and many Iraqi Kurds not-so-secretly share some of the PKK's aims—like a separate Kurdistan. A number of Iraqi Kurdish leaders, however, acknowledge that Turkey will never allow a separate Kurdistan and that a federal arrangement with the rest of Iraq can be a pretty fair deal for Iraqi Kurds. Members of the Turkish Kurdish political party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) have launched their own initiative with Iraqi Kurds to explore political solutions to the PKK insurgency. One of the Turkish Kurds' strongest arguments is economic. Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are major trading partners. Turkish companies have invested in Iraqi Kurdistan and are involved in many infrastructure development projects. Peace would be an economic stimulus.


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