Kurdish War: This Land Is Our Land, Please?


June 17, 2009:  Iraq again reminded the Kurdish provinces up north that oil and gas deals the Kurds made with foreign countries were not legal. There are still disputes between the Kurds and the Arab dominated central government over who controls key real estate in the north (like the city of Mosul and nearby oil fields.) These disputes remain unsettled, and could still degenerate into civil war.

Which Kurdish problem do you mean? Turkey tends to see three Kurdish groups each of which defines Turkey's "Kurdish problem" in a different manner. The first group consists of Turkish Kurds who emphasize their ethnicity at a personal level and believe their "Kurdish problem" can be handled by insuring individual rights and democracy in Turkey. This is arguably the majority of Turkish Kurds. A second group stresses the importance of both Kurdish ethnicity and their religion and want some sort of local and regional political guarantee (structural political guarantee) to protect their group rights. There are "Kurdish identity political groups" that reflect this tendency, and they are primarily based in southeastern Turkey. The third group contains the PKK. This group is for "ethnic armed struggle." All events are interpreted through a "Kurdish ethnic lens." This group will settle for nothing less than a Kurdish state run by Kurds for Kurds. This view also makes clear the "transnational" dimensions. Kurds are found in Syria, Iran, and Iraq as well as Turkey and their definitions of "the Kurdish problem" are shaped by their own local political experience and needs. There are also "disapora" Kurds, many living in central and western Europe. They have their own views of "the Kurdish problem." Many diaspora Kurds in Europe have taken radical, anti-Turkish political stands (because they live in comparatively free countries), but instead of fighting the Turks they have supplied the PKK with money and arms. One might also include another "Kurd problem component" group;  Kurds involved in smuggling rackets running from Iran to western Europe. The criminal gangs intersect with the political radicals, often working closely with them to move narcotics and then returning the favor by sending back arms and ammunition. The gangs, however, are a different kind of problem. Even if all of the "Kurdish questions" are resolved, their raison d'etre will still exist -- criminal enterprise.

June 15, 2009: The Turkish military has reportedly reinforced its units operating in the Cudi Mountains in Sirnak province (southeastern Turkey).

June 14, 2009: A PKK guerrilla and a Turkish Army soldier died in a firefight in Hakkari province (southeastern Turkey).

June 12, 2009: Turkey and Iraq agreed to a "memorandum of understanding" on bilateral military cooperation between the two countries. The MOU will frame future discussions on defense and military issues.

June 11, 2009: Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi told a television interviewer that in his view the PKK rebels that continue to operate in northern Iraq now have a choice -- to either lay down their weapons or leave Iraq. This is certainly one of the tougher statements made about the PKK from a senior Iraqi official.

June 7, 2009: The Turkish military said several Turkish Air Force strike aircraft bombed PKK targets in northern Iraq.

June 3, 2009: A PKK spokesman again stated that a free, independent Kurdish state is no longer an absolute goal of the PKK. It is seeking a “democratic autonomous Kurdistan” within Turkey's current borders. This "autonomous" entity would be based on "local government" operating under local authorities.

June 1, 2009: The PKK extended its unilateral ceasefire for another six weeks. The PKK statement said the guerrilla force would consider extending the ceasefire to September 1 if it believes "progress" is being made on key political issues. Like PKK ceasefires in the past, the current ceasefire has not been much of a ceasefire. The Turkish military has ignored it. Turkey says PKK ceasefires are political stunts and the PKK uses them to resupply and refit rebel cadres.

May 28, 2009: Six Turkish army soldiers were killed and six wounded when their vehicle rolled over a remotely detonated mine during an operation near the Iraqi border (Hakkari province, southeastern Turkey). The defense ministry said the troops were involved in a counter-guerrilla operation in the area.

May 25, 2009: The Iraqi government confirmed an agreement reached on May 11 that will allow Kurdistan's Regional Government (KRG) to export oil from Kurdish oil fields. The KRG will be allowed to export 60,000 barrels a day from the Tawke field beginning June 1. In July it will begin exporting an additional 40,000 barrels a day from the Taq-Taq field.



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