Kurdish War: Giving Peace A Slim Chance

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November 8, 2010: The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) announced that it will unilaterally extend its cease-fire until the June 2011 parliamentary elections. The cease-fire has not been much of a cease-fire, but the PKK is trying to establish political bona fides with the new Peace and Democracy (BDP) Kurd party in Turkey. As it is, several BDP political leaders have also gone to Iraq to meet with Iraqi Kurd leaders and may meet with members of the PKK who operate out of base camps in northeastern Iraq. The BDP believes it could benefit from a real cease-fire by the PKK. However, the recent Istanbul terror bombing has created another anti-PKK backlash in Turkey.

November 4, 2010: The PKK faction Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK is the acronym) claimed credit for the  October 31 terror bombing in Istanbul. The Freedom Falcons claim came after a series of denials by PKK commanders. The TAK said they were targeting Turkish police (15 of the 32 wounded were Turkish policemen). Splinter groups like the TAK do give the PKK a degree of deniability but not much of one. The connections run deep. Turkish security officials said the suicide bomber was a Kurd named Vedat Acar who had trained in a PKK in the Hakuk area of northern Iraq. The Freedom Falcons say there is no cease-fire and they will launch attacks. The PKK claims it is enforcing a unilateral cease-fire and they cannot control TAK extremists. The PKK commanders want to have it both ways.

October 31, 2010: A suicide terrorist bomber detonated himself in Istanbul's Taksim Sqaure. 32 people were wounded in the attack. The government accused the PKK of launching the attack.

October 23, 2010: Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani,  speaking on Turkish television, criticized the PKK. Talabani said that Turkey's democracy has been good for Turkish Kurds. In fact, Talabani said that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's greatest mistake was to not recognize the value of Turkish democracy. He also said that establishing a separate Kurd state was impossible, and the big reason is that it would never be economically viable. He added that Turkey needed to realize that military action alone had not eliminated the PKK camps inside Iraq. The situation can only be resolved by political methods.

October 19, 2010: The Turkish judiciary began the first of a long series of trials. involving 151 Turkish Kurd political activists and politicians have been charged with links to the PKK. The charges include membership in the PKK (which the government calls a terrorist organization) as well as attempting to undermine Turkey's territorial integrity (an act of treason). Some are charged with spreading PKK propaganda. BDP politicians have challenged the trials as being fundamentally undemocratic and an attack on free speech. One of the defendents is  a very popular Kurdish politician and mayor of the city of Diyarbakir (southeastern Turkey).

October 15, 2010: Turkish security forces reported they killed three PKK rebels in actions on the second day of a two-day long counter-insurgency operations in Tunceli province (southeastern Turkey). On the first day of the operation two Turkish soldiers were killed and one PKK rebel in a firefight near the village of Bogacik (Tunceli province).

October 13, 2010: A bomb explosion in an Iranian Revolutionary Guards camp in Lorestan province (northwestern Iran) killed 18 people and wounded 14. Kurdish rebels in PJAK have been active in the area.

October 12, 2010: Imprisoned PKK senior commander Abdullah Ocalan issued a statement that said the PKK would not accept what he called a fake peace process. Turkish media have reported that other PKK leaders have been engaged in behind the scenes discussions with representatives of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) about potential political concessions by the Turkish government. Ocalan's statement may be a reminder that the PKK hardliners will launch new attacks if the AKP fails to make good on some of its political promises. The AKP, for its part, does not want to anger Turkish nationalists prior to next year's national elections.

October 10, 2010: A retired army officer testified in an on-going trial in Turkey that he had been a member of a secret group within Turkey's gendarmerie (paramilitary police) which received bonus money for killing members of the PKK. The secret group operated as clandestine cells of JITEM (acronym for a name that roughly translates as Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terror). For years the government denied JITEM existed, then in the late 1990s evidence began to surface that it did. Now the Turkish government contends some members of JITEM were involved in the Ergenekon nationalist conspiracy.

 

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