Truck Bombing Sparks Turkish Declaration Against ISIS and Kurdish Terrorists
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared “total war” on all terrorist groups in the area, including ISIS, the PKK, and the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) which Turkey considers a branch of the PKK.
“No terrorist group can hold Turkey captive,” Yildirim said in a press conference on Friday, according to wire service accounts.
The PKK has struck numerous targets in Turkey's battle-scarred southeast during the last month.
The latest PKK bombing came two days after Turkish forces crossed the border into northern Syria to provide support for the Islamist militants allied with the Turkish army but opposed to the Syrian regime in Damascus.
The Turkish army’s incursion Wednesday into the Syrian border city of Jarabulus coincides with a military realignment that threatens the YPG forces, which are deployed chiefly through the 5,000 man Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised of Kurds as well as some Arabs and Assyrian Christians. Although for the previous year the YPG has been fighting ISIS in a tactical alliance with the Syrian army, in the last two days the Syrian army, the Turkish army and the Islamist Nusrah militia have turned against the YPG and the Syrian Defense Force.
Since 1984 when the PKK-led insurgency in Turkey began, more than 40,000 Turks and Kurds have been killed, chiefly Kurds. A two-year truce collapsed in 2015 followed by a brutal military campaign by the Turkish army and police in its southeast region. Across the Turkish border in northern Syria, a de-facto Kurdish independent state has been operating since the rise of ISIS two years ago. The YPG fighters in Syria are closely allied with the PKK in Turkey and Iraq and many observers say they are virtually the same organization. “I can’t tell the difference between the two,” said James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq in an interview.
The PKK has its base in the Qandil mountains of Iraq’s northeastern frontier bordering Turkey and Iran. Founded by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978, PKK aimed to create a Kurdish state for the 30 million Kurds dispersed among four countries. Since Ocalan’s capture and imprisonment by Turkish authorities in 1999, the PKK says it has renounced hard-line Marxism and has adopted a new political platform of “Democratic Confederalism.” Yet Kurdish officials continue to label it Marxist, or “a communist-type group,” in Mr. Jeffrey’s words.
More than 2,500 PKK fighters are in Iraq alone, including women, and control hundreds of villages from Iraq’s northwestern border with Turkey to the southern region of Kurdistan. South of Kirkuk, they are actively involved in ethnic cleansing of territories on behalf of Kurds, according to critics.
Iraqi political leaders aligned with Turkey’s stance called for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to revise its policy of allowing Iraqi Kurdistan to be a safe-haven for the PKK, considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.
“The U.S. always aims to fight terrorism, even though the terrorist groups sometimes agree with each other and sometimes disagree and fight each other,” MP Arshad Al-Salihi, leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, wrote in a text to AMI Newswire.
“But what is important for all of us to agree on is that terrorism targets all humanity, whether it is ISIS the PKK or YPG. The U.S. should stand in solidarity with Turkey in her fight with terrorism, because all of these terrorist groups will launch more terrorist operation in Iraq, too, if not controlled” Mr. Ershad wrote.
“Turkey should ask the Iraqi government and the KRG why they allow terrorist organizations such as the PKK to extend deeply into the north of Iraq and in civilian-inhabited regions including Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu,” Dr. Ali Al-Bayati, head of the Turkmen Rescue Foundation in Baghdad, texted to AMI Newswire. “This organization participated aggressively in attacks against Turkmen in Tuz Khurmatu in November 2015 and April 2016,” according to Bayati.
Other Iraqi war observers say the PKK cannot be dislodged from Iraq at present and amounts to an embarrassment for the government in Baghdad and the KRG.
“The presence of the PKK in the Iraqi Kurdistan has been problematic for the KRG for a long time now,” said Ali Sada, the editor of Daesh Daily. “The KRG cannot prevent the PKK from attacking Turkey and cannot prevent Turkey from bombing Kurdish areas. This is an old embarrassing story for the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) especially, Sada said.