Turkey should resist urge for war with
Kurdish militants: International Crisis Group (ICG)
September 12, 2012
ANKARA,— Turkey's Kurdish conflict is at
its bloodiest in more than a decade but Ankara
should resist the urge for an all-out military
offensive and tackle the legitimate grievances of
the country's millions of Kurds, a think-tank said
Turkey has seen a dramatic rise in violence over the
past year with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
militants launching more and more brazen attacks.
Suicide bombings and kidnappings have in turn drawn
a harsh military response from Ankara.
More than 700 people have been killed since
parliamentary elections in June last year, making
this the deadliest period since the capture of the
PKK's leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in 1999, the
International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a
"Stepping up the struggle to wipe out the insurgency
by physical frontal assault, even if understandable,
will never be enough to solve the conflict and will
bring thousands of deaths that will push more
Kurdish youths to take up arms," it said.
"The government and mainstream media should resist
the impulse to call for all-out anti-terrorist war
and focus instead, together with Kurds, on long-term
Four times as many people have died in the last year
than in 2009, the ICG said, with some 400 PKK
fighters, more than 200 security personnel, and at
least 84 civilians among the dead.
The Turkish military said on Monday 88 of its
soldiers had been killed between the start of the
year and September 6, more than 10 troop deaths per
month. At least three more soldiers have been
reported killed since then.
But as the PKK has increased its attacks so Ankara
has returned to its hardline stance against the
militants, who have been fighting the state since
Last week the military carried out an offensive in
the southeast involving some 2,000 troops as well as
war planes and attack helicopters. F-16 fighter jets
also struck suspected PKK targets in northern Iraq.
GOVERNMENT "ZIGZAGGED" ON
With more than 40,000 people killed since the start
of the conflict almost 30 years ago, Turks and Kurds
alike now increasingly concede that military action
will not solve their problem, the ICG said in the
"What has been missing is a clear conflict
resolution strategy, implemented in parallel with
measured security efforts to combat armed militants,
to convince Turkey's Kurds that their rights will be
gradually but convincingly extended," it said.
"Above all, politicians on all sides must legalize
the rights most of Turkey's Kurds seek, including
mother-language education; an end to discriminatory
laws; fair political representation; and more
While Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government,
which swept to a third election victory last June,
has broken taboos notably with reforms relating to
the Kurdish language, it has "zigzagged" in its
commitment to Kurdish rights, ICG said.
Legal Kurdish factions and the PKK, which is
considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the
United States and the European Union, have also
given contradictory signals, it said,www.ekurd.net
making conciliatory statements, calling for mutual
truces but with few condemnations of militant
The ICG urged the PKK to rein in factions that
attack and kidnap civilians and for security forces
to limit aggressive crowd control. It said both
sides should work toward a ceasefire but that the
PKK should not use this as a chance to rearm.
With a secure parliamentary majority and
presidential elections two years away, Erdogan's
ruling AK Party should seize the opportunity now to
kick-start democratic reforms that would meet the
demands of many of Turkey's Kurds, who make up
around a fifth of the country's 75 million people,
the ICG said.
"If Turkey is unable to embrace these basic rights,
it will show that it has as much a Turkish problem
as a Kurdish one," the ICG said.
"Turkey is still in a position of strength and can
move forward ... But given rising tensions and
restive youth, this window of opportunity may not be
open for much longer."
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state,
which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish
state in the south east of the country. More than 40,000 people have since been
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional
self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in
Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey,
reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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