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Monday, August 3, 2015

Turkey continues pressure on PKK.

Link: Turkish military bombs PKK targets.

Turkey has decided that the time is right to tackle the difficult problem of independence for Iraq's Kurdish population.  Turkey has an unfortunate history of dealing with the Kurds, including allegations of past genocide and pogroms.  Turkey would like nothing more than to make the problem disappear, and the military solution seems to be the one that Turkey likes the most.  The PKK, a self-appointed political and military representative of Turkey's Kurdish population, has been a thorn on the shoe of the Turkish Armed Forces, for years.  The PKK has never suffered from lack of funding as the Kurd diaspora has generously supplied the movement with resources, weapons, and media representation.  The PKK has created a difficult situation by utilizing locale familiarity and support to regularly ambush Turkish military patrols.  Ankara has been very hesitant to unleash the full blunt of its military against the PKK, which is holed up in eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq, because of the fear that the international community would not approve.  More importantly, a full military offensive involving the Air Force and Turkey's mighty armor units would give the impression that the PKK movement is making progress in its efforts.

What does the PKK want?  Basically, the PKK is fighting for a Kurdish homeland in eastern Turkey, and at times the movement has garnered tremendous international attention from the actions of female suicide activists.  At times, the PKK has played nice with its Iraq-based PUK and PDK counterparts, which has raised hopes in the Kurdish community that the three organizations might be able to exert enough influence to create a Kurdish independent state from Turkish and Iraqi territory.  In fact, when the Kurdish independence movement in Iraq appeared close to actual success in seceding from Iraq, a great deal of pressure was exerted on the PKK to give up the armed struggle in Turkey, and join the new Kurdish state being born in northern Iraq.  But the Iraqi Kurds got a bit ahead of themselves.  The international community, and the United States in particular, decided that the time had not yet arrived to dissolving the Iraqi state as we know it, and the Kurds were left empty-handed.  The PKK was probably thrilled that the effort failed, because a successful Kurdish state in northern Iraq would arguably remove the need for a Kurdish state in Anatolia.  Its should come as no surprise that the PKK as it exists today, has become an enterprise of sorts, with people making a living from the continued struggle.  The cessation of the effort would certainly close the pocket books of many in the Kurdish diaspora.  In fact, the informal cease fire that existed between Turkey and the PKK since 2013, had started to impact the money-collection efforts in international Kurdish communities.  But the recent attacks on PKK targets, including civilians, will certainly piss off Kurds everywhere, and the money flow should return to normal.

With the ongoing conflict between ISIS and the remaining forces of de facto Syrian president Bashir al-Assad continuing on its southern border, you would think that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would have enough trouble on his hands.  But Erdogan is a master politician, who is always looking into the future before deciding what decisions to make today.  Erdogan suffered badly in the last Turkish elections, which he probably didn't expect.  He normally doesn't get surprised twice, at least not in the same manner.  He is taking care of business. And in Turkey, nothing mobilizes the Turkish voter like a bit of Kurdish/PKK misbehavior, and if the cease fire is keeping the PKK quiet, then it was up to Erdogan to stir the hornets nest a bit.  As usual, Erdogan displayed politically adept timing, and waited until the entire international community was focusing on the nuclear treaty between the United States and Iran, and also the continuing military drama evolving in Iraq's Anbar Province, to launch a completely unprovoked attack on a PKK target.  Not surprisingly, the PKK, after taking a sigh of relief that its raison d'etre had made a new appearance, retaliated quickly by ambushing and killing a handful of Turkish soldiers.  Since this development began last week, its been the usual tit-for-tat between the two groups, and has created an entirely new diplomatic front for the world to focus on.  As for Erdogan, he gets to play the tough guy for the Turkish voter, and at the same time, may have the opportunity to also show is statesmen abilities, before the next round of Turkish elections.

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