Update on Turkish-Kurdish relations

April 18, 2007: The PKK threatened to officially end the  “on and off ceasefire” they have with Turkey. Meanwhile,  Turkey is conducting a “counter-guerrilla” sweep in southeastern Turkey and there apparently Turkish forces near the Iraq-Turkey border. Despite all this,  a full-scale attack on PKK positions in northern Iraq (the invasion scenario) remains unlikely. The Turkish parliament must authorize military operations outside of Turkish territory. However, special forces raids and a multi-brigade operation (the incursion scenario) are still in the cards. The “incursion scenario” could involve up to five or six brigades of troops (perhaps 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers). Given the political sensitivities, a smaller force package is more likely. What would an incursion look like? Mechanized infantry supported by tanks and aircraft would seize villages and occupy more open terrain, mountain infantry units supported by helicopters (and some light armor) would take up blocking positions and conduct search operations in rough terrain. Special forces would be very active, gathering intelligence and preparing ambush positions along mountains trails used by the  PKK.
April 16, 2007: Turkey reported that its troops killed 12 PKK rebels in a series of firefights in southeastern Turkey. One Turkish soldier was killed.

April 13, 2007: Turkey’s senior military officer, Chief of General Staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, said that the Turkish military wants the Turkish government to give it “permission” to attack PKK bases in northern Iraq. The public statement by a senior officer sends Iraq another clear political signal that Turkey expects the Iraqi government to act against the PKK. The Turkish military wants the Iraqis to strike several targets but PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains are a major concern. The Turkish military believes that the PKK intends to “accelerate its operations” in May. That’s one reason Turkey has launched a series of major counter-guerrilla sweep operations in southeastern Turkey.

April 12, 2007: Iraq’s President, a Kurd,  apologized to Turkey for statements by Iraqi Kurdish leaders that they would “fan unrest” among Turkish Kurds if Turkey opposed Iraqi Kurdish claims to the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. President Talabani insisted  that Iraq values its relationship with Turkey. A few days earlier, the Turkish government said that Iraqi Kurds could pay a “heavy cost” for threatening Turkey. Turkey wants to protect the Iraqi Turkoman (ethnic Turk) population in Kirkuk. The US is trying keep Turkey from launching a military incursion into northern Iraq.

April 10, 2007: Turkish troops killed four PKK rebels in firefights that took place in Bingol and Tunceli provinces.

April 9, 2007: — Ten Turkish soldiers had been killed in recent operations against the PKK in southeastern Turkey. Seven PKK fighters were killed in operations on April 7 and 8. Three more were killed on April 9.

April 6, 2007:  The Turks launched a counter-PKK offensive with at least 10,000 troops and paramilitary security police. The operation was described as a “spring sweep” of PKK infiltration routes. As the snows melt, the PKK rebels usually attempt to enter Turkey from Iraq or move from mountain camps to bases nearer cities.

The Turkish government sentenced eight members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP, a predominantly Kurd party) to three years and nine months in prison. The men were convicted of “aiding PKK rebels.”

Source: Strategy Page

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