The most recent Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] attacks in Hakkari on October 21 made the headlines in both domestic and international newspapers. But this wasn't the first time, nor were these the first casualties.
Given the psychological atmosphere in Turkey and the sensitive deliberations now taking place between Turkey and the United States, the timing made this attack different than those of the past.
This terrorist attack is perceived as a challenge by the PKK to the Turkish government itself. The reasons are the following: The attack came just after Prime Minister Erdoğan said that Turkey is ready to confront the repercussions over a likely military operation; A statement by the Chief of General Staff, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, that the U.S. had inflicted damage on itself by failing to act; The Turkish Parliament's decision to give the government permission to launch a military operation in northern Iraq WATCH . The uncertainly and difficulties involved in Turkey's political process makes any counter-move both sensitive and difficult; but the process is moving slowly toward a moment of decision.
Despite the fact that Turkey has based its strategy on calm and rationality, the most recent developments threaten to place Turkey in a situation that cannot be controlled. The consequences of the latest PKK terrorist attacks include:
1- The obvious target of the attack was the Parliamentary motion authorizing military action. With the motion, Ankara had sought to create a psychological impact, knowing that this impact would only be temporary. The psychological impact of the motion ended with the attack on Oct. 21. [The attack blunted the effectiveness of the motion and showed that the PKK was thumbing its nose at Ankara].
2- Attempts to create a Kurdish state in the region are in the final stages. The north of Iraq has become a threat. Meanwhile, the Western media promotes the PKK terrorist organization as representing the Kurdish people. The Western media seeks to place the issue on a completely different plane when they present PKK terrorists as Kurdish rebels and freedom fighters. Similarly, [Kurdish Autonomous Region President] Massoud Barzani's call by for all Kurds to unify against Turkey is promoted as a war of national liberation. At this point, calls on Turkey by the U.S. administration, the U.N. Secretary-General and E.U. member countries not to intervene seem like nothing but attempts to justify and legitimize the de facto Kurdish state.
3- The major actors, including the U.S., don't take Turkish attempts to find a diplomatic solution seriously. Ankara has been disappointed by the failure of these attempts. That is why a cross-border operation is no longer up for discussion in Turkey; now it's only a matter of timing. In that sense, the latest PKK attacks signal that Turkey's attempts at soft diplomacy are over.
4- The Parliamentary motion authorizing military action should now be handed over to the Turkish General Staff for the final deliberations and action.
5- There are now ongoing psychological [warfare] operations taking place all over Turkey to weaken its position in the region. This is dragging Turkey in a new direction.
6- It's now obvious that Turkey could be radically affected by this process. Domestically, there are attempts to create a dispute between the military and civilian government. This is connected to the attempt to create an internal war amongst Turkish ethnic groups. In this way, it is hoped that Turkey's new Kurdish policy will fail. In the foreign policy sphere, these attempts seek to strip Turkey of its independent foreign policy [by getting Ankara to accede to Western demands].
Deliberate statements are being made that the government and military are incapable of taking serious and concrete steps. For this reason, resolve should immediately be turned into action. If taking action means a cross-border operation, Turkey has to cross the border. The issue is not the PKK alone. The issue is about Turkey’s survival as an independent state. As long as Turkey acts hesitantly and opts to remain passive, its image and prestige will be considerably undermined in the global arena. Turkey has to speak in the language that became prevalent after September 11 - it must resort to force and coercion. That is why this cross-border operation will be different from those in the past. This time it will be permanent; it must be permanent. Preliminary work for the operation and the recent PKK terrorist attacks will force Turkey to follow a more radical strategy in the region.
Analysis and comments that say such a strategy is an attempt to drag Turkey into the region's difficulties have lost their credibility. The latest attacks revealed once more that the evil outside our borders is headed our way. Turkey is already involved in the turmoil. And this turmoil will proliferate not only in and around Turkey, but also throughout the entire region. This is why Syria has pledged its support for Turkey, and given the alliance between Syria and Iran, this can be taken as indirect support from Iran for Turkey.
Even though Iran hasn't openly expressed its consent for a cross-border operation by Turkey, Iran's recent actions and its regional policy imply the existence of a hidden alliance between Turkey, Syria and Iran. Attempts to inflict harm on Turkey through the PKK and on Iran through PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan) and to legitimize the de facto Kurdish state in northern Iraq are now out in the open.
Therefore, Iran is a supporter - not an obstacle - of Turkish actions. It has to support Turkey simply because the countries in the region, including Iran and Turkey, realize that the Greater Middle East Project promoted by the U.S. is a devilish plan that seeks to reshape the entire region. At this point, it's time for a bilateral rapprochement between Turkey and Iran.
It should be acknowledged that Turkish relations with the West were seriously damaged by the March 1 motion and the subsequent degrading treatment of Turkish troops by the Americans in Iraq.
[The March 1 motion was the decision on Mar. 1, 2003 to deny the U.S. use of Turkish territory for invading Iraq].
The motion, which foreshadowed the end of a 60-year alliance, the latest developments in north Iraq and the adoption of a U.S. House resolution calling for the American government to consider Armenian claims [that Turkey committed genocide in 1915 WATCH ] have eroded these U.S.-Turkish relations.
The U.S. and the rest of the West, which have already lost the support of the Turkish public, are about to lose the faith and confidence of the Turkish government and military. It is clear that unilateral actions [on the part of Turkey] will dramatically affect relations with the West, and every attack carried out as part of a psychological [warfare] operation against Turkey is harmful to the West. The Western powers should see that every action that undermines Turkey's image and prestige and which inflicts harm on its security is also against Western interests.
Therefore, all sides should reconsider the latest developments and think about the repercussions of their actions. Otherwise Turkey will move toward a very different kind of process, and in an environment where a new Cold War is being seriously discussed, this will not create an outcome desirable to the West.