The concept has changed in Turkey’s fight against terror

The concept has changed in Turkey’s fight against terror

In the first cabinet meeting of the new government chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, critical decisions were made in the fight against terrorism. A new concept was adopted in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Instead of a defensive approach to PKK attacks, a “preventative strike” strategy will be adopted wherever the state is operational. These can be called “terror-preventing operations,” resembling the U.S.’s global strategy after 9/11 and actually first developed by Israel. 

It will involve new operations targeting camps where PKK attacks within the borders of Turkey are planned and staged from. In a sense, it will amount to the silencing of the “small Kandils [mountains]” within our borders. 

There were four sets of presentations in the cabinet meeting. The Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Office of the Chief of General Staff, and the Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) all made presentations. 

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu made a presentation focusing on developments in the region. Interior Minister Efkan Ala explained the latest situation in the fight against terror within Turkey. Gendarmerie Forces Commander General Galip Mendi described ongoing operations. National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan gave a comprehensive presentation on developments in the region, giving detailed information on the fight against the PKK. 

Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar interjected from to time to time to give extra details. The military’s presentation had two sections. One focused on the latest situation in urban wars and cross-border operations. Detailed information was given about the PKK’s losses in its urban wars. The PKK, which wanted to establish cantons in Sur, Cizre, Silopi, Yüksekova, Şırnak and Nusaybin - as it did in Kobane, Afrin and Jazira in Syria – has suffered an overwhelming defeat. For those trying to “design” Syria while keeping our country busy with the PKK and Daesh, it was demonstrated that Turkey is not Syria. 

The second section of military’s presentation was about opening a new front in the war against the PKK. President Erdoğan himself hinted at this when he said, “After the cities, we will also clear the rural areas.”

The PKK, which was defeated in urban wars, will not be allowed to recover in rural places. The “preventive strike” concept will be adopted and those terror camps that have a strategic value for the PKK inside Turkey will be cleared.

Throughout this period, a new peace process will not be mentioned for a long time – perhaps for up to two years.

There are five particular sites inside Turkey where car bombs have been prepared, attack plans made, IEDs prepared, urban wars reinforced, and police stations attacked:

1- Ağrı Tendürek: This is where those coming from northern Iraq enter the region by passing through Hakkâri-Van. It is directly connected to Kandil, with skills to use even if its connection with Kandil is broken.

2- Cudi-Gabar: For those groups who enter Turkey through Silopi, this provides their passage to Şırnak-Mardin-Diyarbakır. There are two logistical camps and seven mobile camps. Because of the five new camps that PKK has established at the border with MLKP, the above mentioned site has lost its former strategic importance.

3- Diyarbakır Lice-Kulp-Şenyayla: The car bombs for Diyarbakır and Ankara have been prepared there. The PKK’s administration for acts in Diyarbakır is located there, while urban wars are managed from the Şenyayla headquarters. This camp has high strategic importance. 

4- The Tunceli-Ali Passage: This area is managed by the PKK’s Dersim commandership. It is the headquarters of Alevi PKK members, who resisted the “withdrawal” decision made after Öcalan was caught back in 1999. 

5- The Genç and Kiğı districts of Bingöl province. The PKK’s Sunni Zaza branch is located in this camp, where actions on the Bingöl-Diyarbakır line are planned and executed. 

In sum, the new conceptual change in the fight against the PKK envisages the destruction of the PKK in rural areas with preventive hits.