How Renewed Turkey-PKK Conflict Threatens KRG

By Mohammed A. Salih for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s prospects of stability might be affected by the renewed resolve by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), even after its spectacular victory in the snap elections on Nov. 1.

Turkish warplanes conducted their first extensive raids in years on PKK positions in Iraqi Kurdistan in late July, and thus rekindled after a couple of years a decadeslong conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Many argued it was an attempt by the beleaguered ruling AKP to win the snap elections after it failed to secure a single-party government in the June elections. In June, the AKP won 258 seats, 18 seats short of the majority needed to form the government on its own.

The AKP government used the murder of two policemen in border areas with Syria on July 22 as a pretext to launch a renewed military campaign against the PKK. The killing of the two policemen came in the wake of an alleged Islamic State (IS) suicide attack on a gathering of leftist youths in the southern Turkish town of Suruc.

Following the assassination of the policemen, PKK factions sent out contradictory messages, at first claiming responsibility and then denying any involvement in the death of the policemen.

The idea behind the AKP’s renewed attacks on the PKK since July, observers believed, was to shore up nationalistic sentiments against the group and harness that to AKP’s benefit in the November elections. The AKP got what it wanted and won enough votes to form a single-party government again for the fourth time since 2002.

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