Turkish air attacks have targeted the headquarters of Kurdish rebels located in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq, according to an announcement from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The targeted party is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK. Over 40 000 people have lost their lives as a result of the anti-Turkey terrorist campaign that the PKK has carried out over the last 30 years. The U.S. and the EU, along with Turkey, classify them as a terrorist organization. The recent airstrikes resulted in the destruction of 14 terrorist targets, including shelters and weapon pits. These assaults come as a part of a Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, designed to target these extremist groups.
In an election rally on Monday, Erdogan declared the aim to be “to drain the biggest of terrorist swamps,” according to TRT World news. The swamp that he refers to is the Qandil region of northern Iraq, located approximately 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border. The area serves as the headquarters for the PKK as well as the Iranian Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). The president went on to say that through the military operations “we are preventing Qandil from becoming a threat and a source of terror.” Turkey has regularly carried out airstrikes of this sort on suspected extremist camps in northern Iraq since July 2015, making the recent ones a continuation of a pattern.
The rebel party began its armed conflict against Turkey’s government in 1984. Their goal was the formation of an independent Kurdish state in the aforementioned nation. According to BBC News, the leader of the PKK has asserted that they “want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely” and that “the struggle will continue until the Kurds’ innate rights are accepted.” The 1990s saw the destruction of thousands of villages in Kurdish regions of Turkey. This caused Kurds to flee in mass numbers to other parts of the country. Since the 90s, the PKK has shifted its demands from an independent state to a larger degree of autonomy for the Kurdish people. The Turkish government has demanded that the insurgents be disarmed completely before negotiations take place.
Prior to July 2015, this conflict had been experiencing approximately two years of ceasefire, until it was resumed in July. The shift in the PKK’s goals, which now place more emphasis on increased cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey, as well as the release of imprisoned members, have a better chance of being attained if the PKK were to comply with Turkey’s request to disarm, only then standing a chance at successful peace talks. Though attempts have been made in the past, secret talks were held between the two groups during 2009 to 2011 but proved to be fruitless. Further negotiations could bring about peace and safety for Turkish citizens, and hopefully bring the decades-long conflict to an end.