New concept in fighting the PKK on the field
Very important developments are happening in the field in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The urban clashes have ended. The PKK has suffered a heavy defeat after setting out with the dream of forming cantons in Turkey, similar to the ones formed in northern Syria.
Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar went to the clash-hit southeastern town of Nusaybin after visiting İzmir, where the Efes training activities had been conducted successfully. He inspected operations in Nusaybin and gave morale to the troops. He then went on to the Central Anatolian province of Konya to join the Anatolian Eagle Exercises.
The PKK has failed in the cities but this does not mean the cities are now cleansed of terror. This summer, the security forces will again prioritize efforts in cities. Operations will continue to eliminate terrorism from all urban areas, close ditches and deactivate explosives. A number of troops will continue to patrol the cities.
With the onset of summer, the fight against the PKK will also intensify in rural areas. Indeed, rural operations were already being conducted. While the urban wars were ongoing, the Turkish Armed Forces kept the PKK HQ in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq under pressure. Several cross-border operations were conducted.
The PKK, having failed in its urban wars, has now changed concept and turned its attention to rural areas. To cover up its failure in urban wars, and at the same time to take advantage of the seasonal circumstances, the PKK has re-activated its rural camps. It is also continuing to stage attacks with car bombs and remote controlled handmade explosives.
The PKK has five major camps within Turkey: Ağrı, Tendürek; Cudi-Gabar; Tunceli-Ali Passage; Bingöl, Kiğı; and Diyarbakır, Şenyayla.
The urban wars have been directed from these camps, where passage is provided between Turkey and Iraq/Syria, and where rural terror activities are also planned and executed. Car bombs are prepared at these camps.
The Turkish military has recently adopted a new fighting concept: The “preventive strike” or “terror prevention” operation.
This concept is now at work in the field, moving from the planning phase to the operational phase. In the new phase, the domestic camps of the PKK and its mobility in rural areas will be targeted.
I have spoken to a number of security units. They say the Special Forces have been conducting “preventive strike” operations against the PKK in rural areas for a while. They do not give details due to secrecy.
They only say the operations against the PKK camps in northern Iraq and Ağrı, Tendürek have yielded effective results. Because of these operations, the PKK has lost its ability to organize attacks in crowded groups. For example, instead of groups of 50 to 100 people, they are only able to attack in groups of five to 10.
The National Security Council (MGK) and the cabinet recently discussed the rural fight against the PKK. This summer will certainly be hot in terms of fighting. When rural operations intensify further, the load will be borne by the Diyarbakır 7th Corps Command and the Van Gendarmerie Public Order Corps Command. In those cities and towns where operations have been completed, commando units will be deployed to rural areas. The Gendarmerie Special Operation Teams, which have been were extremely successful in the recent urban clashes, will also be assigned to rural operations.
We are going through a difficult phase in the fight against terrorism because of the current conjuncture in Syria. If the 1990s were defined as “low-intensity war,” it isn’t clear how one would define the new phase.
Our biggest trouble in the fight against the PKK is the conjuncture in Syria.
We are fighting a PKK-PYD entity that conducts joint operations, which sometimes cooperates with the U.S. and which sometimes cooperates with Russia. It mostly cooperates with the Bashar al-Assad regime and Iran.
But despite all this, Turkey is not Syria. A new concept in fighting the PKK is now on the table, and this time their rural lairs will be targeted.