Don’t look at Aleppo, look at Hakkari / Kurds amp up battle, tactically trying to split Turkey’s army

By Fikret Bila – Al-Monitor – August 7, 2012 – With a large-scale operation still ongoing at Semdinli, the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] is expanding its area of battle by attacking three outposts in Cukurca area two days ago. By persisting at Semdinli for two weeks now, PKK is trying to split the Turkish army.

With its new operations, the PKK hopes to relieve the pressure it faces at Semdinli. The developments come a time when Turkey is intensifying its support for the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad and deploying large forces along the Syrian border. Turkey declared that it will not allow the PKK and PYD [the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party] to control northern Syria. The PKK wants Turkey to once again be preoccupied with the terror on its territory.

Don’t look at Aleppo, look at Hakkari

With the new attacks, the message to Turkey is “Never mind Aleppo, look at your own city of Hakkari.” The idea is to shift the attention of the Turkish army from northern Syria back to its own soil. The PKK command in the Qandil Mountains announced they were going to launch large-scale, violent operations with the hope of transferring the Syrian uprising to Turkey. As the PKK and PYD take over some towns in northern Syria, we are now being told that the same is possible in Turkey as the Semdinli battles clearly indicate. The PKK’s infiltration of Semdinli town, their deployment into houses with the hope of initiating street battles and deployment of heavy weapons very close to the town are all signs of intention of creating a “liberated zone.” The PKK would very much like to show the world that just as in Aleppo, security forces are battling the residents in the streets of Semdinli, too.

Dominating terrain

The PKK’s goal of dominating the terrain is illustrated by determination of terrorists to stand their ground and fight instead of classic hit-and-run attacks. If nothing, the PKK hopes to at least show that government forces are incapable of controlling the terrain. By transferring the Arab Spring process and the sights of Tahrir Square to Diyarbakir, the PKK aspires to ignite a Kurdish Spring that could well entail slicing off a part of Turkey. They want to show that Ankara doesn’t control the Hakkari region and that PKK has the authority and upper hand in combat in that area.

Barzani and Zana

Ankara has been working with [Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud] Barzani to bring the PKK down from the Qandil Mountains while trying to send new feelers through independent Kurdish parliamentarian Leyla Zana. But the battles in Semdinli and the attacks at Cukurca show neither Barzani nor Zana have a say in getting PKK to give up its arms. A big question here is whether Ankara has adequately tested whether Barzani intends to get involved. In this context, launching of new operations immediately after the meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with Barzani is meaningful.

Pressure on Ankara

The PKK, by altering the scope and goals of its attacks, wants to put pressure on Ankara. By announcing that it will escalate its attacks, Kandil command is actually trying to impose conditions to resume negotiations. As reasons for its attacks Kandil points to isolation of their imprisoned leader Ocalan, lack of progress on Kurdish education, heavy Turkish pressure on urban operations wing KCK and Ankara’s threats to Syria’s PYD. This is PKK’s way of claiming that as an armed force they have achieved “strategic balance” with Turkey and it is time to show the world its military capacity.

Goal of Greater Kurdistan

PKK-PYD thinks by declaring the area Assad abandoned in northern Syria as “West Kurdistan” they have taken an important step toward the supreme goal of Greater Kurdistan. The PKK and PYD,et who are focused on a quasi-state in northern Syria as in northern Iraq, believe that that slicing off southeast Turkey would be the major step toward establishment of Greater Kurdistan.

We have to be told what is happening

Nothing official has been said about the Semdinli battles that have been raging for two weeks. Relevant ministers are not saying anything to the public. To journalists who ask, the ministers say, “Security authorities will tell you.” But the military command is also keeping silent. Even the opposition parties are kept in the dark. This blackout by Ankara is feeding the rumor mill and nourishing the very atmosphere that the PKK is toiling to create.