Kurdish War: Shelter From The Storm


July 22, 2009: Iran is becoming an increasingly attractive spot for Kurdish separatist rebels. Iraqi Kurdistan's political cooperation with Turkey has improved and that's bad for the PKK. Though the tighter political cooperation has not translated into concerted Iraqi action against the PKK bases in Iraq, it has produced better intelligence for Turkish forces and encouraged Turkish Kurds to pursue political solutions in Turkey. Iran is another matter. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) has long been the PKK's operation in Iran. Occasionally Iranian police arrest   PJAK demonstrators and PJAK smugglers (moving goods and weapons from Turkey to Iran or from Iraq to Iran, or the other way). However, the brewing Iranian revolution has encouraged other minorities (like the Baluchis on the other side of Iran). With Iran distracted and Turkey ascendant, PJAK bases may be the haven for PKK cadres under pressure in northern Iraq.

Further complicating matters in Iraq, powerful Kurdish militias in Kirkuk, Iraq, are threatening to hold a referendum in the oil rich city, to settle the dispute over whether Kirkuk is "Arab" or "Kurd." This dispute has been going on for decades, and many fear it could trigger a civil war between Arabs and Kurds.

July 14, 2009: According to pre-election polling, Iraqi Kurds think the biggest problem Iraq and their region face is political corruption. The poll cited Iraqi Kurd disenchantment with Kurdish politicians. For the past year reports from Iraqi Kurdistan have indicated the public is interested in economic development and less interested in "the old fights" with the Arabs in Baghdad and the Turks up north. Corruption, of course, plagues the developing world, as does mismanagement and lack of political, financial, and judicial accountability.

July 12, 2009: The Iranian government announced a new "anti-smuggling initiative" in northwestern Iran. This usually indicates a crackdown on the PJAK. An "Iranian senior official" said that police were targeting smugglers who were smuggling material and good from Iran to "neighboring countries." That could mean many things, including illegal drugs.

July 10, 2009: A bomb exploded in the town of Eruh (Siirt province). One person was killed. Turkish security officials accused PKK rebels of setting off the bomb.

July 6, 2009: Four members of a construction crew were killed and nine wounded when a "roadside bomb" exploded and destroyed their vehicle. The incident occurred in Sirnak province (southeastern Turkey). A government spokesman accused the PKK of the bombing.

July 4, 2009: Troubles with financiers plague Turkey's dam projects. Though the dams are not explicitly related to Turkey's war with the PKK, Turkey's dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers certainly affect its relations with Syria and Turkey. At the moment Iraq objects strongly to a new dam project on the Tigris (Ilisu dam project). Iraq is lobbying several financial institutions (most of them European) to withdraw funding for the dam. Iraq, which is suffering from a drought, also wants Turkey to release more water into the Euphrates River.

July 3, 2009: The Turkish military claimed that it had killed or captured 16 PKK fighters since June 12. The war has gone through phases of "minimal action" in the past. At the moment internal Turkish politics regarding Turkish Kurds and Turkey-Iraq bilateral relations are where the action is.



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