Kurdish War: Something To Starve For


April 3, 2011: Spring is coming and with it more war. The Turkish military is certainly on the move. New operations have begun in Hatay province (southern Turkey). Turkish media report that activity has picked up along the Iraq-Turkey border (Sirnak and Hakkari provinces). As the temperature rises, the days lengthen and the snow and ice melt, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla units begin to move. The number of contacts between security forces and the PKK have begun to increase.

April 1, 2011: In response to increasing agitation by Syrian Kurds, the government of Syria promised to resolve a longstanding issue. In 1962, the Syrian government denied citizenship to approximately 300,000 Syrian Kurds (about 20 percent of Syria’s Kurdish population). The government claimed that these Kurds had entered Syria illegally in 1945 from Kurdish areas in other countries (specifically Turkey and Iraq, but theoretically Iran as well).

Turkish security forces engaged a PKK guerrilla group as it attempted to infiltrate Turkey from Syrian territory. Turkish troops reportedly killed seven PKK rebels in the firefight. Turkish security officials indicated that this was the largest number of PKK guerrillas killed in a single engagement since mid-2010.

Unidentified gunmen killed four Iranian border guards in a grenade attack in the Iranian town of Marivan, which has been a hotbed of activity by members of the Party for the Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).

March 27, 2011: Kurds in Turkey have long been divided over support for the PKK. To many Kurds, both in southeastern Turkey and in western Turkey, the PKK is just an old-line Marxist revolutionary organization run along Marxist lines. These Turkish Kurds regard PKK commander Abdullah Apo Ocalan as a thug. However, many of these Kurds have kept their views quiet, even though they were voting for traditional Turkish political parties. Why did they keep their mouths closed? There are many who argue that at least the veneer of Kurdish solidarity is politically useful in obtaining cultural rights in Turkey. But there was, and still is, fear of violent retribution by Kurdish radicals. For example, the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) recently began threatening a number of Turkish Kurds with death. This time a number of Turkish Kurd politicians, writers, and scholars aren’t shutting up. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a pro-Kurd party, has denounced the TAK. A Kurdish politician (heavens, the man is in exile) recently compared Apo Ocalan to Libya’s Muammar Kaddafi. In many ways the comparison is apt. But saying it in public ticked off the TAK (so to speak). The TAK threatened the exiled Kurd with death. Not good. Note our February 27 post in this report ie, many Kurds are disenchanted with the AKP. Extremist behavior by the TAK and the PKK may lead to re-enchantment. The PKK does not have a real economic program, just an ethnic state program led by Apo Ocalan, of course. As the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt have shown, many folks in the Middle East want jobs and an end to corruption.

March 24, 2011: A spokesman for the Party for the Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), Iran’s Kurdish rebel organization, said that Syria’s and Iran’s current regimes will fall just like the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt fell. PJAK is the Iranian wing of the PKK. The spokesman also said that he believed the United States supports the Arab and Iranian revolutionaries

March 19, 2011: The Turkish military claimed that its forces killed four PKK rebels in a firefight in the southeast. Attack helicopters were used.

Turkish Air Force combat aircraft struck PKK targets in northern Iraq near the town of al-Imadiya.

March 15, 2011: Turkish security forces killed three PKK rebels in a firefight in Sirnak province (near the Syria-Iraq border).

March 14, 2011: A new statement by jailed PKK commander Apo Ocalan said that the unilateral ceasefire, which supposedly ended February 28, will continue until the Kurdish New Year (Nawroz) begins March 21.

March 10, 2011: Kurdish sources reported that several dozen Syrian Kurds (currently jailed in a prison outside of Damascus) have begun a hunger strike. This is to demonstrate their support for Syrian human rights demonstrators who are protesting against the government. Many of the jailed Syrian Kurd dissidents are members of the Syrian Kurdish Yekiti Party (SKYP), a Syrian Kurd political and cultural rights party.

March 6, 2011: Protestors in Iraqi Kurdistan were attacked by a group of masked men in the town of Sulaimaniya. The protestors were demonstrating against Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani (head of the Kurdish Regional Government, or KRG). Over the last three weeks, five people have been killed in demonstrations and civil unrest (that is the term used) in northern Iraq, with another 158 injured. In one incident, armed gunmen attacked an Iraqi Kurdish radio station.

February 28, 2011: Well, spring is on the way for sure. On February 28th, the PKK terminated its ceasefire, saying it would not attack Turkish targets but would defend its members more effectively. This was the eighth unilateral ceasefire declared by the PKK since 1993. The PKK usually calls a ceasefire as the cold weather begins then ends it as spring arrives.

February 27, 2011: Kurdish opposition to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) continues to stir. Since mid-2010 Kurdish political parties have complained of repression. Human rights groups have noted the rise in alleged human rights violations in Turkey’s Kurdish region. Going into national elections later this year, the AKP (which is a moderate Islamist political party) has been quite confident. Kurds have provided support to the AKP because the AKP began promising infrastructure improvements in southeastern Turkey (which is predominantly Kurdish). But increasingly Turkish Kurds express disappointment with the AKP. Towards Kurds, the AKP, they say, is behaving like the old Kemalist government. It’s still a long time before the elections, however.

February 22, 2011: Several demonstrations have occurred in northern Iraq. Protestors have been demonstrating against the current Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. The protestors are objecting to unemployment and corruption. An independent television station in northern Iraq, NRT –TV, was attacked by masked gunmen on February 20. One man was injured in the attack.


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