The Turkish government launched a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 2012 to put an end to the armed campaign by the Kurdish group aimed at gaining autonomy. The process created an opportunity for all to live together. However, Turkey started airstrikes on PKK targets just after the attack on Turkish forces in the country’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa near the border with conflict-ridden Syria, which was claimed by PKK, and a bomb attack in the town of Suruc in the province, which killed at least 32 people and was reportedly claimed by the ISIL terrorist group, which is operating in Iraq and Syria. Following this, PKK declared that the group will no longer uphold a shaky peace agreement with Turkey, which had been in place since 2013.
The airstrikes by Turkey on PKK targets have been considered differently by regional and international actors. Among the actors that are mentioned here, Iran, Central Iraqi Government and Russia have a negative approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets because of different reasons while Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the United States of America (USA) have a positive approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets. Finally, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have a moderate approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, warned that Turkey’s recent military attacks against anti-ISIL Kurdish forces facilitate the access of Takfiri extremists to Turkey’s frontiers. He said that Turkey should be worried about its own nation in the face of ISIL’s satanic conduct and those supporting the terror organization, including the Zionists and the USA. He further criticized Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for providing support to Takfiri terrorists, stressing that such a policy will sooner or later backfire and endanger their own security. After Firouzabadi, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Iranian Interior Minister, stressed that Tehran has adopted a neutral position on the ongoing conflicts in Turkey between the central government and Kurdish fighters in border areas. “There is unrest in Turkey’s border areas due to the country’s stances on Syria and its supports for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group”, he added. From this point of view, it seems that Iran has a negative approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
Central Iraqi Government
Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi Prime Minister, has demanded that Turkey halt airstrikes against Kurdish militants in his country, calling them a violation of sovereignty. In a three-part message posted on his official Twitter account, he stated as following: “The council of ministers considers Turkish airstrikes on Iraqi territory a dangerous escalation and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The council stresses its commitment not to allow any attack on Turkey from Iraqi territory, and calls on Turkey to respect good relations.” From this point of view, it seems that the Central Iraqi Government has a negative approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev rose questions in terms of the legitimacy of Turkey’s actions in Iraq, where the Turkish aircraft bombed positions of PKK. He said that “The coalition has been created to bypass the UN Security Council and extended its activities to the territory of Syria, without the consent of its government. This creates serious doubts in terms of the legitimacy of such action. By the way, the recent Turkish air strikes in Iraq makes one ask analogous questions.” From this point of view, it seems that Russia has a negative approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, said in an interview released by the German magazine Focus that PKK was responsible for the end of the Kurdish reconciliation process in Turkey. “PKK overestimated itself. The peace process between Turks and Kurds being threatened is not only related to Turkish President, but also to hardliners in PKK who do not want peace”, he stated. His statement also condemned Turkey and PKK for attacking civilians, following reports that civilian homes were damaged in air strikes in northwestern Iraq. The statement calls on both sides to resume peace talks. “We condemn the bombing, which led to the martyrdom of the citizens of the Kurdish region, and we call on Turkey not to repeat the bombing of civilians. And PKK must keep the battlefield away from the Kurdistan region in order for civilians not to become victims of this war”, he said. In addition, Barzani’s statement, his political adviser Kifah Mahmoud told that “If PKK did not have an armed presence in the region, Turkey would not bomb civilian areas”. He also added the following: “There is a treaty between Turkey and Iraq allowing Turkish military forces to enter Iraqi territory when attacked. Therefore, PKK must leave from the region.” Very currently, Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of KRG, expressed his and his government’s willingness to work for the reestablishment of the ceasefire and re-launch of the peace process in Turkey. From this point of view, it seems that KRG has a positive approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
John Kirby, USA State Department Spokesman, made statements with regard to Turkey’s operations against PKK, expressing further backing for the operations aimed at eradicating terror across the country. Upon the question of whether the USA government is frustrated with Ankara concerning the retaliatory operations against PKK, Kirby underlined the support for Turkey, saying “Turkey has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.” He also added that the USA continues to call for PKK to cease their attacks, to return to a political process. After Kirby, Eric Schultz, Deputy Spokesman of White House, on July 29 made a statement on Cemil Bayık’s claim. Speaking to the British Daily Telegraph newspaper last week, Cemil Bayık, a senior leader of PKK, claimed that PKK has started indirect talks with the USA. He actually said as following: “Of course there are messages, there are meetings, letters, and there are likely to be more”. Answering his claims, “We condemn PKK’s attacks. It is a foreign terrorist organization and we respect Turkey’s rights to defend itself”, Kirby said. From this point of view, it seems that the USA has a positive approach on Turkey’s attacks on PKK targets.
After the airstrikes on PKK bases in the mountains of Northern Iraq started, the UN kept a neutral position on the recent conflict between Turkey and PKK, calling through its spokesperson for a return to dialogue. But after the airstrikes increased, the UN described Turkey’s recent air campaign outside its borders as self-defense and in accordance with the organization’s charter. About the issue, the UN Secretariat General Ban Ki-Moon who spoke after a Security Council meeting on Syria declared that “This action taken by Turkey was done in accordance with the chapter 51 of the UN Charter, as a way of exercising their self-defense. That is what has been explained to me by Prime Minister Davutoğlu.” From this point of view, it seems that the UN tries to have a moderate approach towards the recent conflict between Turkey and PKK.
Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, after Turkey has launched air attacks against ISIL and PKK, which are listed as terrorist organizations by Turkey, EU and USA. After the telephone call, she stated as following: “The Turkish government has shown in recent years courage, firm intention and wisdom in bringing forward a political process that is the only means of reaching a stable solution to the conflict, for the sake of all the Turkish people. The EU will keep supporting the government on this path.” She also underlined the fundamental importance of keeping the settlement process with Kurdish people alive and on track. “Terrorist groups must not spoil the process and the cease-fire must be preserved. Any action taken should avoid the risk of endangering the cease-fire and the Kurdish peace process that remains the best opportunity in a generation to solve a conflict that has claimed far too many lives”, she said. From this point of view, it seems that the EU -like the UN- tries to have a moderate approach towards the recent conflict between Turkey and PKK.
Hacı Mehmet BOYRAZ
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