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article imageOp-Ed: Turkey's attacks on Kurdish PKK in Iraq angers U.S.

By Ken Hanly     Aug 12, 2015 in Politics
Ankara - Recently relations between the U.S. and Turkey seemed greatly improved as Turkey joined the battle against the Islamic State and allowed U.S. planes to use a Turkish air base to launch operations against the Islamic State.
However, at the same time as Turkey joined the battle against the Islamic State, it also began attacks against the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers' Party(PKK) group in northern Iraq and within Turkey. A ceasefire between the PKK and Turkey is shattered and Turkey now faces attacks within Turkey from both the PKK and the Islamic State as well as other radical groups.Turkey has been in conflict with the PKK since the early 1980s but is also attacking a different Kurdish group in northern Syria, the YPG.
A Turkish pro-Kurd party did very well in recent Turkish elections and President Recep Erdogan's party lost its majority. Erdogan is now using the internal attacks and the battle against IS and the PKK as a means of building up support. Polls show the strategy to be working as he is building up enough support to again win a majority government should he call a snap election. So far he has been unable to form a coalition government. However, Erdogan risks plunging Turkey into a period of increasing unrest and violence as well as creating tension with allies such as the United States.
U.S. military leaders are very worried about the Turkish military strikes against Iraqi Kurdistan. There are U.S. forces in the area who are training Kurdish Peshmerga. The bombing can only strain relations between the U.S. and the Kurds who are key allies in the U.S. battle against the Islamic State. The U.S. refuses to tell Turkey exactly where its troops are in Kurdistan but has listed large areas the Turks should avoid bombing. However, Turkey has responded by giving the U.S. 10 minutes advanced notice when its planes are headed into the area, warning them to get out of the way. A Turkish strike on July 24th in Iraq caused concern in the Combined Air and Space Operation the allied headquarters in the war against the Islamic State as they had such short notice of what would happen.
Although there are growing international calls to return to the ceasefire with the PKK that lasted for two years, Erdogan has stepped up attacks with 17 different strikes the other day. PKK leaders recently expressed support for a return to the ceasefire. Erdogan however said Turkey will continue a relentless war until there is not one Kurdish terrorist left in the country. There is almost no chance of that happening. What Erdogan really hopes for is another majority government in the near future. He can continue his authoritarian and counter-productive crackdown on opposition forces as well as complicate relations with Turkish allies.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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