A different concept will be applied in Qandil
There have previously been other operations in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains, the headquarters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). There have been times when the former Chief of the Turkish General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt said, “Qandis is like the home of Big Brother.” However, this time, we are talking about a new operation.
This time, a long-term action plan is being executed. The Qandil operation started on March 10 from within our borders. The passageways the PKK has used to sneak into Turkey from Qandil, their bases, ammunition stores, and the areas in which they have planted mines have all been cleared.
The Turkish military has been advancing towards Qandil by establishing bases in strategic locations for the last three months and creating passageways for itself. We are asking the question whether an operation will be conducted in Qandil vain. The Qandil operation has been carried out quietly for the past three months. A total of 11 large-scale regional bases have been established, but do not let that mislead you. The big operation has not been launched yet. This is just the groundwork. A big operation is being prepared for Qandil.
In northern Iraq’s mountainous Qandil region, there are eight to 10 PKK camps. The region is the brain of the PKK. That is why a special operation is underway for Qandil. The region will be struck by war planes for days and will be softened with artillery fire, making it ready for the operation.
The operation will run in coordination with the United States. But, what will the U.S. gain from this? It has been said for some time that the U.S. has been trying to break ties between the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). If you remember, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had talked about having the YPG fight against the PKK during his meeting with Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.
In his statement regarding the operation, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said “There will be a four-way cooperation between Turkey, the U.S., Baghdad, and Arbil” against the PKK in northern Iraq.
It is understood that a different dialogue is being maintained with Iran. Because without cooperation with Iran, the Qandil operation will be insufficient, as part of Qandil is on land that belongs to Iran. PKK leaders Cemil Bayık and Murat Karayılan are said to be utilizing sheltered areas on the Iranian side.
From its planning to execution, we are facing a different operation this time.
3- The big Qandil operation, as was the case in the Euphrates Shield Operation and “Operation Olive Branch,” is being planned in two stages.
4- The PKK’s training quarters, communication, headquarters, and ammunition depots, and shelters will be destroyed in air operations, which will last for days. The organization’s infrastructure will be destroyed.
5- Following air operations, a ground offensive is expected to take place, with the support of artillery fire. During the period of the operation, war planes and artillery fires are expected to provide continuous support to the ground units as needed.
This time, there is a different Qandil plan on the table. After Qandil is cleared of the PKK, a plan different from what has been applied so far will be executed. Temporary bases will be established in Qandil so the PKK cannot return. This way, Qandil will no longer belong to the PKK but will be a Turkish military base.
In other words, the Turkish flag that will be planted in Qandil will continue to wave there, just like in Syria’s Jarabulus, al-Bab, and Afrin. This way, the aim is so that Qandil is no longer a threat to Turkey, of course within the context of respect for Iraq’s territorial integrity and bilateral relations.
This operation also has a side that concerns the Iraqi military. Iraq has been successful in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but there are ongoing concerns of whether ISIL will return. We will increase our support for the Iraqi military to boost its capacity in the fight against ISIL. Because for us, the PKK is the same as ISIL.