Turkey weighs options against PKK

Fresh separatist attack leaves Turkish army with worst losses since 1995 in PKK fight.

    The PKK's fight for independence since 1984, has so far cost more than 37,000 lives [AFP]
    Without their assistance, Turkey has previously said it would consider a unilateral military operation into Iraq.
    'Necessary measures'

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said: "We are going to evaluate the situation and take the necessary measures.

    "Our struggle against terrorism will continue in a different manner"

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey PM

    "Our struggle against terrorism will continue in a different manner," Erdogan told reporters late on Sunday.

    He said he would discuss the issue with George Bush, the US president, during a visit to Washington in November.

    Yousef al-Sharif, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ankara, said there was

    a lot of public and military pressure on the Turkish government to send troops to northern Iraq, but Washington and Baghdad were against it.


    He said Erdogan was under increasing pressure but he could not send troops across the border because he signed a security agreement with Iraq in September.


    US pressure

    The Turkish army said on Saturday it had created 27 new, temporary security zones, reinforcing an existing plan to deter PKK movements in the Sirnak, Siirt and Hakkari provinces, all close to the Iraqi border.

    Some analysts have speculated that the zones could be part of preparations to launch a military campaign into Iraq against the PKK.

    The Turkish army has long sought authorisation to strike against PKK bases in northern Iraq, but the government has demurred under pressure from the US, which does not want its Iraqi Kurdish allies forced into confrontation with the Turkish army.

    Turkey and Iraq signed a co-operation agreement in September to combat the PKK, but failed to agree on a clause allowing Turkish troops to engage in "hot pursuit" against fighters fleeing into Iraqi territory, as they did regularly in the 1990s.

    Nationalist sentiment

    Public exasperation with mounting Kurdish attacks and the inability to cope with them has contributed to rising nationalist sentiment in Turkey.

    "The border [with Iraq] will be crossed and they [the PKK] will be held to account," the daily Hurriyet read.

    But the Turkish authorities say the increase in PKK violence stems from its dwindling support in the region due to pro-Kurdish reforms undertaken by the government as part of its efforts to join the European Union.

    Violence in southeastern Turkey, where the PKK has been fighting for independence since 1984, has so far cost more than 37,000 lives.

    The PKK is described as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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