Turkey escalates its war on the Kurds

July 4, 2024
Two guerilla fighters
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters. Photo: ANF News

In a recent escalation of the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime’s ongoing war against Kurds, the Turkish armed forces has deployed about 1000 troops and 300 tanks and armoured vehicles in Duhok province in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to a July 7 statement by the Kurdish National Congress (KNK), local sources report that more than 110 military bases have been established up to 35 kilometres inside Iraqi territory.

“The recent escalation of Turkey’s military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan under the pretext of fighting PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] guerrillas is a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to regional stability. Turkey’s deployment of tanks, soldiers and checkpoints deep inside Iraqi Kurdish territory is a clear attempt to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan. This will lead to an escalation of the long-term war with regional and global implications.

“The aggressive actions of the Turkish military, including setting up checkpoints, interrogating road users and emptying villages, demonstrates a de facto occupation of the region that undermines the sovereignty of Iraq and the Kurdish people,” the KNK warned

According to United States-based human rights organisation Community Peacemaker Teams, Turkey has carried out more than 800 attacks on the Kurdistan Region and Nineveh province this year, resulting in eight civilian deaths.

The Turkish state aims to control the Gara Mountains, according to the KNK. This could result in the loss of 70‒75% of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s territory in Duhok.

The Assyrian Christian village of Miske in Duhok’s Metina region was almost entirely destroyed by the Turkish military in artillery strikes.

Turkish forces are also building six new military bases in the Zakho region to secure it for the Iraqi-Turkish Development Road project, with the KRG planning to connect their own road megaproject to it, while the Turkish military cites security concerns to justify their increased presence.

There are also indications that incursions extend to the Sulaymaniyah region, the KNK warned.

A high-level delegation from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), led by Mutlu Tuka, visited Baghdad on June 27 to meet with officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). probably as part of Turkey’s strategy to pressure the PUK into joining the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — which runs the KRG — in an alliance with Turkey against the PKK-led Kurdistan freedom movement.

However, the PUK faction in the Iraqi parliament condemned the ongoing violations of the Kurdistan Region and Iraqi sovereignty, citing risks to national security and the safety of citizens. These actions are described as clear violations of international law aimed at disrupting peace and violating Iraqi sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Turkey and its allied jihadist militias continue their attacks on Kurdish-liberated Rojava in north and east Syria. Disturbingly, Erdoğan signalled a major shift in policy towards the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in Syria in a statement on June 28, according to Kurdish news outlet MedyaNews.

“There is no reason not to establish relations with Syria,” Erdoğan declared, in a significant departure from previous confrontational rhetoric.

After breaking off relations with Syria during the civil war in 2011, Turkey has backed various opposition groups against the Damascus-based Assad regime and conducted several cross-border military operations into Syria.

These operations led to the occupation of areas previously populated by Kurds, notably the canton of Afrin, displacing local residents and resettling the areas with refugees from Damascus and Idlib province, purportedly to establish a “safe zone” under Turkish control.

Turkey now says it might restore ties with Damascus if Syria made progress in “fighting terrorism”. This suggests that Assad should cooperate with Turkey’s campaign against the Kurds, which is aimed at undoing the autonomous status the Kurds have achieved since they defeated the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

In a recent interview with the Kurdish news service ANF, Aldar Xelîl — a member of the the Co-Presidency Council of Rojava’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) — explained that the Erdoğan regime “sees its existence in the destruction of the Kurds”.

“They see their existence in the liquidation of the democratic project. According to their logic, if the democratic nation project is implemented here and the Kurdish people get their rights and can live freely like other peoples, it will mean the end of the Turks. Why are they so afraid? Because the establishment of the Republic of Turkey was based on the annihilation of the Kurds.”

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.