The results of the Turkish general election of July 22 suggest that Turkey’s Kurdish minority is looking increasingly to Islam rather than the secular nationalism of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) is generally regarded by both its opponents and its supporters as being very closely associated with the PKK (EDM, July 27). [snip]
Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces have traditionally been not only the most underdeveloped in the country but also the most devout. The PKK was founded as an explicitly Marxist organization. In recent years it has downplayed its communist credentials in favor of secular Kurdish nationalism. But to the majority of Turkey’s Kurds it is regarded as being, at best, indifferent to Islam and, at worst, anti-Islam. During the early 1990s the PKK even fought a war against the most powerful violent Islamist organization in eastern Turkey, the Turkish Hezbollah, which is unrelated to the Lebanese organization of the same name.
In recent years, other non-violent Islamist organizations, such as the Sufi brotherhoods known as tariqah, have also stepped up their activities in eastern and southeastern Turkey. The most active has been the Naqshabandi, which, like Hezbollah, has been vigorously conducting propaganda activities and social work in the region, including soup kitchens, free Koran courses and scholarships and subsidized housing in dormitories for students wishing to attend university in western Turkey. Although there are no organic links between the Naqshabandi and the AK Party, many of its leading members, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have close ties with the order. In conversations with Jamestown, leading Naqshabandis have never made any secret of their support for the AK Party.
In comparison, the DTP lacks both the financial resources and the ideological appeal of either militant organizations like Hezbollah or the Sufi orders. The DTP’s brand of secular nationalism is a very new phenomenon for Turkey’s Kurds. The results of the July 22 election suggest that it is already losing ground to Islam.
The bottom line is that the PKK has long been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. Perhaps that helps explain why the US is cooperating with Turkey to attack it.
From Turkey says U.S. intelligence led to Iraq raids, 20.12.07 04:31:
(Reuters) - U.S. intelligence shared with Turkey led to the weekend raids in northern Iraq on Kurdish militants, Turkey's ambassador to the United States said on Wednesday.
"There is no doubt that this operation was possible due to, of course, the information shared by the United States of America," Turkey's Ambassador Nabi Sensoy told reporters.
He declined to say whether the United States had directly pinpointed targets for Turkish warplanes but he said the U.S. intelligence-sharing was very important.
The Pentagon has said Washington gave Turkey intelligence to track Kurdish fighters hiding in Iraq, but would not say whether it gave precise targets used in the raids.
But what might be the ramifications of this? The PKK is a terrorist organization, but not an Islamic terrorist organization. In some ways, it is a natural enemy of Al Qaeda, which is opposed to secularism and marxism.
The ambassador said the Turkish offensive in northern Iraq on Sunday involved about 50 fighter jets that launched two waves of attacks against positions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
He said the attacks had seriously damaged infrastructure used by the PKK. "This must be a strong message to the PKK terrorists that the Turkish military is capable of tracking them down wherever they might be under any weather conditions, any time of the year," Sensoy said.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the U.S. military was given ample notification of the air strikes from Turkey via a joint coordination center set up in Ankara.
"This (center) has been open for some months now, I think it dates back to this summer, in which you have Turkish military personnel along with U.S. military personnel working to share intelligence," said Morrell.
Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began an armed struggle for a separate Kurdish homeland in 1984. It says some 3,000 PKK fighters are based in camps in northern Iraq.
Understandably, Turkey will not want to allow the PKK a safe haven.
Sensoy did not rule out further raids based on U.S. intelligence-sharing.
"This is not a once-and-for-all operation but I think it has served its purpose because of the fact that all of the targets have been hit with precision," said the ambassador.
"The ultimate target is the elimination of the PKK terrorist organization and Turkey will do whatever is necessary to achieve that," he added.
The United States has been trying to get Turkey and Iraq to cooperate over eradicating the PKK via a so-called tripartite mechanism involving the three countries.
Sensoy said this group had not produced any tangible results so far and the Iraqi government had failed to cooperate.
"I do hope that arrangement will be more useful to both sides in the future and that will depend on the determination of the Iraqi side," he added.
Turkey has also been critical in the past of what it saw as a lack of U.S. cooperation in trying to root out the PKK in northern Iraq but Sensoy said his government was happy with recent intelligence-sharing that followed a meeting last month between the U.S. president and Turkish premier in Washington.
But he said European countries such as Denmark, France and Austria must do more to curb PKK activities.
For example, he said Denmark was allowing a television station based on its territory to broadcast news on behalf of the PKK.
Also, US backs military strikes on PKK Tuesday, 25 December, 2007:
US President George W. Bush Monday spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and stressed their common fight against Kurdish rebels operating out of Iraq, officials said.
White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the two leaders spoke by telephone, while Turkish news agency Anatolia said Bush gave his backing for military strikes on bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"The president and the prime minister exchanged greetings and best wishes for the New Year," Johndroe said.
"They also discussed their common efforts to fight terrorism, and the importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront the PKK," he said.
According to Anatolia, the two men hailed the cooperation in Ankara's battle against the outlawed PKK, which has seen Turkey launch air raids and a limited ground incursion into northern Iraq.
They agreed to continue sharing intelligence and again classed the PKK as a "common enemy", Anatolia said, stressing that Erdogan told Bush that Turkey's military operations were only targeting rebels.
In the wake of 9/11, the United States was targeting terrorist organizations that had a global reach. The PKK, while classified as a terrorist organization, never seemed to be on the list (?).
PKK headquarters bombed
The Turkish air force on December 16 bombed Qandil, the headquarters of some 3,500 PKK fighters according to Ankara, with a brief ground incursion the next day.
A second set of air raids took place on Saturday, with Turkish planes attacking rebel positions in the far northeast of Iraq again on Sunday.
No loss of life or damage was reported, according to Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for Iraqi Kurdish government security forces.
Long battle for self-rule
The Turkish military has yet to confirm Sunday's raids.
Since 1984, the PKK's armed rebellion against Turkey for Kurdish self-rule has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
The group is classed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The logical move for the PKK would be to retaliate against the US somehow.
The PKK no longer has a safe haven in Iraq, as Turkish forces are now attacking the PKK in Iraq, and doing so with US assistance. At this point, what does the PKK have to lose?
Since US forces are in Iraq, where the PKK operates, will this lead to PKK attacks on US forces there?
With the rest of Iraq seeming to quiet down, if the Kurdish areas suddenly erupt in anti-US violence, what would that mean for the Bush Administration, particularly in regards to the war in Iraq?
What does this mean for our troops?