Turkey-PKK hostilities continue to complicate multi-sided regional conflict
Tension between Turkish nationalists and Kurds has exploded in recent days to the point that the leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP party warns of civil war. The escalation follows the collapse of a ceasefire agreement between the Turkish government and Kurdish PKK rebels in July. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
Turkish troops continue a military campaign both in PKK areas of Iraq and in the Kurdish-majority city of Cizre , which is under curfew and experiencing regular power cuts. What exactly is happening inside the city is unclear, as opposition politicians have been blocked from entering Cizre. In video posted to Twitter, the sound of pots-and-pans protests wafts over the empty streets of the city.
Meanwhile, Kurdish militants have killed about 30 members of the Turkish security forces in the past week. Turkish nationalists have responded by attacking and burning offices of the pro-Kurdish HDP across the country. On Friday in Diyarbakir, a predominantly Kurdish city in the country’s southeast, militants attacked a restaurant frequented by police – one waiter was killed, three officers injured.
“Unless people on both sides pull back, we could get into a very dangerous situation,” according to Gareth Jenkins, Senior Fellow at the Silk Road Studies Program and a long-time resident of Istanbul. “Not only will they continue to kill people in Turkey, but the fight against ISIS will be weakened. And it gets very complicated because the U.S. now has been to base some of its air raids against ISIS out of the airbase in Incirlik. And ISIS on the battlefield in Syria is against the PKK, who you’ve got getting air support from the U.S. And then inside Turkey, the PKK is fighting against Turkish security forces at the same time Turkey is allowing the U.S. to use the Turkish air base.
“Its very difficult to see how such delicate balances can be maintained. And I think there is a concern that going forward if this violence continues, not only are more people going ot die inside Turkey, but the fight in Syria and Iraq is also going to be weakened.”