The PKK’s insistence on seizing towns

The PKK’s insistence on seizing towns

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked Beytüşşebap after Şemdinli, martyring 10 soldiers. It targeted the office of the district governor, military barracks and police housing facilities. Its aim was, as in the Şemdinli raid, to seize Beytüşşebap. It was to take the Turkish flag down from the top of the governor’s building and fly the PKK flag over government buildings, and to transmit these images to the whole world. By doing this, its goal was to declare that the PKKwas capable of launching a raid on a town in Turkey and taking over its administration, with the implication that the people also participated in the raid and that the army and the police were forced to withdraw from the town.

The PKK, which was unable to achieve this goal in Şemdinli, tried once again in Beytüşşebap. It was also unable to meet its goal there. But it is clear now that the terrorist organization is insistent on using this method. In the coming days, it may attack some other town it has its eye on.

The PKK’s persistence in attacking towns and flying its flag at government buildings is closely related to what is happening in Syria. With these attacks the PKK wants to provide the world with Syria-like images from Turkey. Before the Syrian conflict ends, the PKK wants to start a parallel process in Turkey, but it cannot accomplish that.

Intelligence and precaution
After the Şemdinli raid, it was debated whether an intelligence weakness had led up to the Beytüşşebap raid. Officials said there was no weakness in intelligence, that security forces were informed about PKK plans, that measures were taken in the town, and that the attacks were repelled with greater casualties on the PKK side.

If security forces are learning about PKK attacks beforehand and taking measures to meet them, then it can be said that there is no failure of intelligence. However, there are question marks about the measures taken.

Why did the security forces take measures and wait for the PKK to attack in downtown Beytüşşebap? If intelligence arrived on time, then how were the terrorists able to approach and enter the town with heavy weapons? In the course of doing that, how were they able to blow up a bridge to cut aid? How were they able to flee after fighting with security forces in the center of town for hours? The public is curious for these answers. However, after the Şemdinli attack, there no detailed public statement was made. There has been no satisfactory statement about the Beytüşşebap attack either.

Besides seizing towns, the PKK has recently become insistent on kidnapping also. The PKK has kidnapped district governors, several civil servants, and citizens. Following the kidnapping of Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Hüseyin Aygün, reports came that the PKK had kidnapped Justice and Development Party (AKP) Hakkari province head Mecit Tarhan. The PKK does not want any political power in the region other than its own. It tries to do control the area with arms.

Another goal of the PKK attacks is no doubt to provide political support for the BDP and to garner more votes in the elections, and to gain a greater political share from the ongoing polarization, by keeping the clashes alive until local elections.

Ankara is late in taking a joint stance against the PKK’s terrorism and its political effects. The political parties have failed to come together for various reasons. The government turned down the CHP’s call for an extraordinary session of Parliament. While it was generally expected that the political parties would use joint language, just the opposite happened. Government and opposition spokespersons turned the discussion of terrorism, make of it a debate on domestic politics. Unless the stances of the leaders change, it will continue to become harder for Ankara to use its collective wisdom with each passing day.

Fikret Bila is a columnist for daily Milliyet, in which this piece was published on Sept. 5. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.