Feature > Opinion > SHOWDOWN IN ATATURK'S TURKEY BY SLATER BAKHTAVAR
“A nation which makes the final sacrifice for life and freedom does not get beaten.” ~ Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey.
In early October, members of the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), stationed in northern Iraq,
instigated a clandestine military attack that led to twelve casualties.
This attack is a minuscule part of a spate of intensified attacks by
the Kurdish Workers’ Party. The Kurdish’ Workers’ Party, whose agenda
includes the autonomy of Turkey’s southeast region and an end to Turkish assimilation, have infiltrated segments of northern Iraq and Turkey.
They are keen on ferocious tactics which include, but are not limited
to, kidnappings, beheadings, tactical bombing, and pillaging. This
month alone, the Kurds have racked up a body count of 42 Turks and have
kidnapped eight others. In just 20 years, the organization, which is
designated a “terrorist organization” by the United States and Europe, has murdered over 30,000 people.
Feeding on rampant sectarian violence in Iraq,
the PKK has intensified its militaristic approach. Contrary to its
glorified public relations campaign, the PKK is not a heroic
counter-interventionist movement. PKK’s Marxist ideology and
treacherous brutality is an aberration in a society recognized for its
ethnic Kurds, the majority of who recently voted for the Justice and
Development Party, oppose PKK’s agenda. The Kurdish people recognize
that the guerrilla escapades have promoted regional and international
political upheaval. Once isolated and prone to factionalism, the
guerrilla movement is on the rise due to the dire situation in northern
Turkish government, which believes Turkish citizens should have no
loyalty outside of the state, has responded. On October 17th, the Turkish parliament voted 507-19 to authorize cross-border raids into northern Iraq
to root out the PKK. Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit angrily announced,
'We are determined to make those who cause this sadness grieve with an
intensity that they cannot imagine.” Prime Minister Erdogen, leader of
the moderate Islamic Development Party, said, “Turkey shall not be intimidated.” Turkey recently amassed over 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq
backed up by tanks, artillery warplanes and helicopters. Turkish jet
fighters and helicopters pounded suspected rebel hideouts in Turkey and northern Iraq, strategic maneuver condemned by U.S. and Iraqi governments. The U.S. and Iraqi government fear that Turkish intervention could destabilize a moderately tranquil segment of the volatile region.
two nations believe Turkish military intervention may deepen tension
between diverse ethnic groups in the region, deteriorate loose
coalitions and trigger a sharp increase in global oil prices.
Neighboring Iran and Syria, which are both home to substantial Kurdish minorities, may be pressured to intervene. Even minimal ethnic friction in Iran, a predominately ethnic Persian nation, may escalate in the fragile region. But the United States must balance its desire for regional stability with steadfast support for and cooperation with the Turkish government.
Turkey chastised the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq, but it subsequently provided vital strategic airbases for U.S. flights into Iraq and Afghanistan.