PKK control of Şemdinli-Çukurca claims prove to be terror propaganda
30 August 2012 / AYDIN ALBAYRAK, İSMAIL AVCI, ANKARA/ HAKKARI – Hurriyet
Turkish government officials have dismissed recent claims by a Kurdish politician who alleged that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has gained control of hundreds of kilometers in Turkey’s southeast region as a propaganda campaign that is not in touch with the reality on the ground.
Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) that is described as political wing of the PKK, has claimed that the PKK has established field control on nearly 400 square kilometers of territory in Turkey’s southeast region.
But the government officials and sources from the Hakkari security forces have denied the validity of Demirtaş’ claim, describing it as just an effort at propaganda.
“That’s just Demirtaş’ wish,” Hüseyin Çelik, AK Party Deputy Chairman, said on Wednesday, commenting on Demirtaş’ statement. “It’s true that contractors can’t carry on with their work in an area where clashes are ongoing, but that doesn’t mean the area is under the PKK’s control,” Çelik added, noting that the Turkish state is in control of every inch of territory within its borders.Sources in the Hakkari security forces who spoke to Today’s Zaman on condition of anonymity, have said the terrorist organization is carrying out terrorist acts to get media coverage, thereby giving the false impression that it controls the region. “Almost every other day the PKK attacks police stations just to get media coverage, but it’s actually just that a couple of PKK terrorists are opening fire from a distance and then run away and hide in the mountainous area,” the sources stated.
“For the last 45 days, an area 300-400 kilometers square from Şemdinli to Çukurca has been in the control of the PKK. All the roads outside the city borders are in the control of the PKK,” claimed Demirtaş in his interview that appeared on Thursday in Taraf daily. But analysts don’t agree with Demirtaş’ claims. “This is just a big lie,” Mehmet Özcan, chairman of the Ankara Strategy Institute, has told Today’s Zaman. “If such a big area is in the control of the PKK, then how come 318 PKK terrorists have been killed and five anti-aircraft guns were eliminated in the operations in the Şemdinli region from July onwards?” he went on to say.
In Şemdinli, the PKK tried, for the first time, to defend its positions against Turkish troops in a clash that lasted for 20 days. In doing so, the PKK wanted to establish field control, and thereby give the impression to the world that in some portion of Turkey it had gained control. But for Özcan, the recent kidnappings — as in the case of Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Hüseyin Aygün — bomb attacks and statements by BDP deputies are just efforts at propaganda designed to get rid of the trauma the PKK lived through in Şemdinli.
The PKK has the capacity to launch hit and run attacks against military targets or carry out checks at remote roads in the out-of-city borders in the southeast of Turkey, but it has never managed to control an area. The PKK, which declared the year 2012 as the year of victory, tried hard, within the last year, to carve out a liberated area in the Şemdinli region, but was repelled, suffering heavy casualties, via the efforts of the security forces. The PKK is fast loosing the support of the local Kurds as well, government officials say.
Talking about the PKK’s recently adopted attitude, “The PKK is aiming to give a message to both domestic and international policy makers that the situation in Turkey is no different from that in Syria,” Özcan said.
Mehmet Şandır, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman, also sees Demirtaş’ statement as propaganda. “We know the PKK aims to raise its flag at a public institution in Şemdinli or Hakkari,” Şandır told Today’s Zaman,” arguing that what Demirtaş is doing is just being an instrument for PKK propaganda. Maintaining that it’s the policies the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has implemented that encouraged the PKK to aim for a field control strategy in the region, “The AK Party has caused the terror to get wild,” Şandır commented.In the Şemdinli region, the police know how many terrorists are active in the rural areas and where their hide-outs are. But no operations are being carried out against these PKK groups by the security forces. So, the statement of the BDP co-chair also contains some truth in it. The terrorist organization is active, as in past years, in Hakkari and Çukurca. PKK terrorists are now in Kavaklı, Kazan and Oğul districts in the region. It’s estimated there are 60-80 terrorists in the Kavaklı camp, around 60 terrorists in the camp in Oğul and 80 terrorists in Kazan.
The General Directorate of Security, the Gendarmerie and the National Intelligence Organization are known to have reported many times the presence of terrorists in these camps, but no operation has been conducted against the camps in the last couple of months. And that’s why the rural area in the region seems to be in the control of the terrorist organization. In the region, the PKK can carry out checks on the road at places that are only a couple of kilometers from the city. The PKK calls local people to its camps and judges them, threatening people who don’t want to give money as the terrorist organization demands. Municipality tenders in the region are also totally in the control of the PKK, and it’s the firms connected to the PKK that get the tenders.
CHP’s Kart: Demirtaş’s words propaganda
Atilla Kart from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) also takes Demirtaş’s words mainly as propaganda. Yet, noting that around 145 people have been kidnapped in the region within the last year, with the figure being only around 150 for the last 20 years, “The state doesn’t have full control in the area,” he maintained. Referring to the recent scene in which PKK terrorists got together with some BDP deputies on a main road in the region, he told Today’s Zaman: “The state wasn’t there. The area, as it were, was deserted [by the state],” accusing the government of not being able to deal properly with the PKK.
The terrorist organization keeps on attacking civilian targets as well. On Wednesday evening, four PKK terrorists set three trucks and a tanker-truck on fire in Tunceli province, following which the security forces started an operation, with air support, to apprehend the terrorists.