Back in Istanbul after 9 days in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq…
ISTANBUL-I’m back after spending 9 days in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.
While I was in Diyarbakir, Turkey I interviewed the family of a PKK guerrilla who was killed by the Turkish military and then had his body mutilated and his head cut off. The family had had a difficult time even collecting the body and could barely recognize their son. They made clear however that they felt their son’s death was for a just cause, referring to him as a son of all the Kurdish people. There were days of protests following the news that the bodies of PKK fighters had been mutilated and shops were closed across southeast Turkey as Kurds clashed with the police.
I’ve also been in northern Iraq doing stories on the Turkish business there and the dual nature of its purpose. Articles on that will be out soon, as well as some analysis on where Turkey’s Constitutional Court’s recent decision on AKP’s constitutional amendments.
While I was in northern Iraq I also had something of a surprise interview related to the PKK fall into my lap. More on that to follow…
The war in the southeast of Turkey is definitely heating up. Kurds I spoke with felt the conflict had come to a “breaking point” and the PKK has no intention of laying down arms. There have been reports that some regions in Siirt, Hakkari, and Sirnak have been declared “Military Security Zones” and closed to all civilians, including journalists, from 16 July to 16 September.
These are regions along the border with Iraq and the announcement of these “Military Security Zones” comes just days after Turkey demanded the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) arrest 248 PKK commanders based in northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountains. The arrests won’t happen anytime soon but the US is apparently cooperating with the Turkish government by providing intelligence to stop PKK rebels from crossing into Turkey. The US has also opened up specific parts of Iraqi airspace for the Turkish military to bomb suspected PKK positions. One of of those bombings happened last Saturday just hours after I left the Qandil Mountains, injuring 1 civilian.
Turkey sees no way it can negotiate with the PKK, leaving the only option the escalation of military force.