Statements made last week by PKK commander Murat Karayilan have ignited a debate within Turkey. Karayilan is now quoted as saying that the PKK wants to talk. The PKK is not ready to quit fighting but might if Turkey will "offer something in return. A "democratic autonomous Kurdistan" within Turkey seems to be what the KK is angling for. Iraqi Kurds have put a great deal of pressure on the PKK to end its war with Turkey.
May 7, 2009: Turkish media quoted a senior PKK commander, Murat Karayilan, as saying that the PKK would "no longer insist" on a separate Kurdish state carved from southeastern Turkish territory. Karayilan made the statement on May 6.
May 6, 2009: Turkey claimed that airstrikes in northern Iraq(e strikes in Iraq's Zap and Avasin-Basyan regions) killed ten PKK rebels. Air craft targeted weapons dumps and suspected base camps.
May 5, 2009: The Iranian Army shelled camps in Iraq occupied by the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). PJAK is the PKK in Iran.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed in incidents in Siirt province (southeastern Turkey). One soldier was killed in a land mine explosion. The other died in what authorities described as "an armed attack."
May 4, 2009: Turkish police arrested eight gunmen who participated in "vendetta murders" in the village of Bilge (Mardin province). The men were involved in a feud between two families. They attacked an engagement ceremony and 44 people died in the resulting gun battle. Both of the feuding families had members serving in "Village Guard" local security forces. The Village Guard units operate as a pro-government militia.
April 29, 2009: The Turkish military called on the government of Iraqi Kurdistan to "become actively involved" in destroying the PKK. The demand came within hours of the news that ten Turkish soldiers were killed when their armored personnel carrier was blown up by "a buried bomb" (likely a bomb rigged as a land mine) detonated by PKK rebels. The soldiers' vehicle was traveling between the cities of Diyarbakir and Bingol (southeastern Turkey).
A would-be suicide bomber tried to blow up herself and a former Turkish justice minister. The former official was visiting a university in Ankara. The would-be bomber managed to detonate a fuse, which wounded her, but failed to detonate the bomb. The government called the attack "an assassination attempt."
April 27, 2009: Turkey said its forces were conducting a "joint drill" with Syrian troops along the Turkey-Syria border. The Turkish military said it was a three-day long exercise and "the first ever" conducted by Turkish and Syrian forces. The exercise involved platoon-sized units operating Turkish and Syrian border outposts. Turkey threatened to attack Syria in 1999 when Syria continued to openly harbor PKK senior leader Abdullah "Apo" Ocalan. Israel and Turkey have been close allies and the Israeli government said that it was concerned about the joint exercise. The exercise could signal a political rapprochement between Turkey and Syria. While that is possible, it could also signal Turkish diplomatic success in getting Syria to stop PKK infiltration from Syrian territory. Turkey has also been trying to get Syria to crackdown on smugglers. Time will tell.
April 25, 2009: Iranian security forces claimed they killed ten PJAK fighters in the town of Ravansar (western Iran). The Iranian report said that a PJAK rebel group attacked the police station in Ravansar.
April 26, 2009: Members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) held rallies throughout Turkey protesting the recent arrests of DTP activists.
April 22, 2009: Turkey said that government prosecutors will pursue a legal case against 31 Kurdish militants who allegedly belong to the "Kurdish Parliament in Exile." The government claims that the KPE is a "front" organization for the PKK.
April 14, 2009: Turkish police arrested 50 Kurdish political activists in 12 different provinces. Some of the activists arrested were members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), which is a legal political party. Those arrested were accused of having direct contact with the PKK. Many DTP members, however, accused the government of harassment and intimidation. The DTP gained strength in last month's local elections in southeastern Turkey.