To onlookers who have their attention elsewhere, the incursion across the northern border of Iraq led by Turkish military forces of approximately 10,000 soldiers (including commandos and other special operations groups), armor and air support may seem rather sudden, even more so now that Iran has pledged support to Turkey on engaging the provocateurs of the Turkish offensive. However this latest development is only part of the decades long conflict that has been waged by ethnic Kurdish militants of the PKK.
This is not the first major military offensive that Turkey has gone on against the PKK. Earlier in August, Turkish warplanes and artillery pummeled the PKK’s positions across the Iraqi border.
The PKK, otherwise known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has been fighting for an independent Kurdistan and better rights for Kurds in Turkey since 1984, and as a result of an expanded branch in Iran called the “Party of Free Life of Kurdistan” (PJAK), the rights of Kurds in Iran.
The PKK is currently listed in most terrorist watch lists and labeled as a “dangerous secessionist” organization that wouldn’t hesitate to use violence, similar to the armed Basque separatist group the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna.
The difference between the two organizations and, really, many others is the staggering number of casualties the conflict has incurred: at least 40,000 people have died as a result of the conflict along with the huge support for the ‘terrorist organization’ among the Kurdish people.
Both Turkey and Iran have large Kurdish minorities, the former is trying to meet the demands of the Kurds in the country.
However some Kurds are not demanding for reform but instead for total autonomy for a Kurdistan state.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss future cooperation against the Kurdish separatists.
The Iraqi government again promised to help Turkey in preventing future attacks in the future as the PKK is based on Iraqi soil.
The provocation that has led to the current Turkish armed offensive was an attack blamed on the PKK which has left at least 24 Turkish soldiers dead and more than 17 wounded.
A day earlier, the PKK was also blamed for attacks that left five police officers and three civilians dead in Bitlis.
Support for the military offensive is currently huge as thousands rally across Turkey in support of the military.
(Cover Photo: World Bulletin)