After the deaths of nine soldiers near the town of Cukurca in south-east Turkey on Wednesday, Turkish warplanes bombarded PKK bases in Northern Iraq. The Turkish military said the air force had attacked 60 suspected PKK targets. And it seems this is just a beginning.
The attacks focused on Mount Qandil on the Iraqi-Iranian border, where the leaders of PKK are believed to be hiding.
This news dominated the headlines in Turkish newspapers with many columnists supported the wave of air attacks against PKK. Even papers close to the government, which had previously been supportive of the idea of negotiations, joined the chorus.
“Turkey reached a point where its good faith did not receive a response” said Mesut Ulker, a former army officer and strategist. He added: “Now the Turkish public wants a harsh response to the PKK terrorists, and these air attacks provided that.”
After the elections last June, Turkey focused on creating a new constitution. A very representative parliament was elected. But Kurdish MPs from the main pro-Kurdish party, the BDP, boycotted the parliament because five of them remain in prison and the party wanted them released.
The BDP’s action, combined with PKK attacks last month, forced the AK Party government to harden its position. Trying to solve the Kurdish problem by launching ‘The Brothership Project’ and democratising Turkish politics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held off from the military options. But the deaths of nearly 40 soldiers since July caused a shift in government policy. During his party’s convention Erdoğan gave the green light to military operations.
“I think Turkey will not attack with 20,000 30,000 or 40,000 troops as it did in the past. This time I believe that there will be pinpoint cross-border attacks against the PKK leadership to capture them or eliminate them,” says the former army officer Mesut Ulker. He stressed the fact that “Turkey will commit to this operation. From now on she will not step back and will continue operations against the PKK.
Many in Turkey also would like to some sign from the BDP. “Why do they not march and protest against violence when Turkish soldiers are killed, surely if they really want peace they would do that?” asked a journalist via her twitter account.
“The PKK present itself as the spokesperson of Kurdish reality. Other groups, I mean the BDP must take a positive role and take the oath in the parliament in order to remove the PKK from this position of representing the Kurdish movement. Otherwise their position will be linked with the PKK,” said Ulker.
There are strong signs of more attacks to come. “The Turkish armed forces will continue with similar actions inside and outside of Turkey with determination, until the north of Iraq becomes a secure, liveable area and the separatist organisation which uses it as a base for attacks on Turkey is rendered ineffective,” read a statement from the military posted on its website.