Turkey: Battle with PKK Goes Back in Time
After a lull of several years, it appears that Turkey's battle with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is starting to return to a more pitched level. Twelve Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with the PKK in eastern Turkey yesterday and more than 40 soldiers have died in action over the last year. Meanwhile, the rhetoric on both sides is heating up, with Ankara promising a new and decisive round in the decades-long fight against the PKK. From Today's Zaman:
The Turkish prime minister reiterated that a new phase has begun in the fight against terrorism following increasing tension between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has left dozens of Turkish soldiers dead in the past few weeks.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking on Tuesday at an iftar dinner hosted by the Interior Ministry for families of the security personnel killed in PKK attacks, repeated his earlier promise that the government has launched a new strategy in the fight against terrorism, stressing that the struggle against the PKK does not mean stepping back from democracy and freedoms.
Erdoğan stated that Turkey is making preparation for this “new struggle” to the very last detail, adding that the assignment of professional staff to hot spots is almost completed. Stressing that the government will protect the country forever, Erdoğan said the state will protect the security, peace and happiness of 74 million citizens without stepping back from democracy, law and freedoms.
On Sunday, Erdoğan said push has come to shove for Turkey, indicating that the country will enter a new era in the fight against terror after Ramadan. “I am saying it frankly. The cost of this will be heavy for them. Those who fail to distance themselves from the separatist terrorist organization in this country are also abetting this crime. They are also doomed to pay the price for that,” the prime minister said, referring to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has so far failed to deny links with the PKK.
“We are maintaining our patience because of our respect for Ramadan. But, everyone should know that the beginning of peace will be more different after this month of peace and solidarity,” Erdoğan added.
Hurriyet, meanwhile, has a bit more about Ankara's specific plans for challenging the PKK. From their article:
According to sources, among the options being considered in Ankara the urgent assignment of special police teams stands as a priority. It has already been decided that the Special Operations Police Teams will be assigned especially to sensitive regions and will once again be given a part in the fight against terror. After recent events, this decision will be executed faster. There are currently more than 6,000 Special Operations police officers. A group of 500 carefully selected from this team will be sent to high-risk areas such as Hakkari, Şırnak and Diyarbakır and will be deployed in the mountains where the PKK militants are known to be.
Steps will be taken toward the Black Sea region to tackle the existence of terrorists there, too. The Special Operations police officers will be deployed in Ordu, Tokat and Kastamonu. To avoid any complications in the cooperation of the police and the gendarmerie, governors will have command over assignments and the administrative aspects in the anti-terror operations taking place in each other’s areas of operation.