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Thread: Turkey mainly, Iraq and the Kurds (2006-2014)

  1. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by uwew View Post
    Hello

    Does anybody have any references to literature about the history of this campaign?

    Regards,
    uwe
    This is an extremely though subject for an academic work. There are several reasons for this:

    1. It maybe surprising for most non-Turkish researchers that, the Turkish Joint Staff is very open to academic scholars for historical studies. Archives of Cyprus operation, Independence War First World War were opened to many foreign researchers and historians. However, the struggle against PKK, officially called as "Ic Guvenlik Harekati" (Operation for Internal Security) is an ongoing operation. Thus, you may not get success at getting answers from Turkish military.

    2. The literature has a lot of articles, books and other materiel directly and indirectly financed and/or suppported by PKK and its extensions. The book "Mehmedin Kitabi" is one of them: having an incredible number of inconsistencies and mistakes about military service and the situation in the SE region of Turkey. PKK, unlike many other seperatist terrorist organzations in the world, is extremely successful at PR campaigns. So you may find it difficult to get a neutral POV. (Note: The PhD dissertation at U of Helsinki is a shame for the university to say the least. I got the feeling that I'm not living in Turkey and elsewhere while reading it. Simply unbelievable. I will not be surprised if Ms Koivunen is already a member of YJA-STAR)

    3. The subject extremely complex roots within political and socio-economic history, involving Ottoman Empire, First World War, Cold War, complex tribal relations, Syrian, Bulgarian and Soviet interventions, 1st adn 2nd Gulf Wars, Saddam, Esad and Iranian revolution etc. You should be "armed" with sufficient background in order to get a better understanding. Only after than you can better understand how a Marxist-Leninist organization can have a manifestation full of ethnic bravado and anthropological explanations (in early 1980's).

    As for military / tactical POV, I can only wish you good luck, since even us Turkish citizens have the slightest idea on tactics and strategy by (an increasing) number of books by former / retired personnel who served in 1990's in the region.

    Summary: Good luck. But don't expect to get a good number of sources from different POV's and sides. You will be bombarded by sources directly/indirectly supported by PKK and/or a huge number of NGO-supported materiel built up with micro-nationalist motives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    Mehmedin Kitabi: Güneydoğu'da Savaşmış Askerler Anlatıyor. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of an English edition.
    Hey, it is available in translation: Voices from the Front: Turkish Soldiers on the War with the Kurdish Guerrillas

    Now I have to pick it up and read it so I can compare it with the original Turkish.
    Quote Originally Posted by orko_8
    The literature has a lot of articles, books and other materiel directly and indirectly financed and/or suppported by PKK and its extensions. The book "Mehmedin Kitabi" is one of them: having an incredible number of inconsistencies and mistakes about military service and the situation in the SE region of Turkey.
    There is certainly a certain chunk of material written on the conflict that is linked to (or supportive of) the PKK. But having worked extensively with the Turkish military since the mid-80's, I will state unequivocally that this statement is very wrong about Nadire Mater's book. The strength of Mater's work is in the spectrum of sources she interviewed: the vast majority were ethnic Turks of different backgrounds and educational levels, but she also interviewed Armenian, Greek, Kurdish (Shafii and Alevi), Laz, Greek, and Roma conscripts who served in the SE. Despite the much tighter censorship of the time, the first printing was permitted without any substantial interference. However, the rapid selling-out of that first printing, and immediate start on second and third printings, prodded the Turkish authorities to ban the book and to charge the author under Article 159 of the penal code (insulting and belittling the military).

    The PKK engaged in very brutal actions, killing schoolteachers and many other civilian representatives of the Turkish state in the SE in the style of Maoist "armed propaganda", with the '90s seeing those actions implemented across a broad swathe of the region. This has been extensively documented, and there is little need to demonize the organization as they have been condemned by their own actions.

    But some of the attempted revisionism that attempts to tone down what was the heavy-handed response of the Turkish military of that time period really does the Turkish military and the Turkish state no real service, and only serves to obstruct or contaminate potentially substantive lessons learned. ("Revisionism" now - at the height of the campaign there was extensive censorship as well as large numbers of journalists imprisoned while attempting to report on events) Not to mention that it makes the revisionists look foolish, as those actions were also extensively documented, and thus refusing to admit them only results in failing to learn their lessons.

    This failure to learn by the Turkish state and military is currently reflected in the re-emergence of the PKK as a violent actor over the past few years, bringing armed conflict up to a simmer in the SE (along with a few scattered bombings in cities in the western part of the country).

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    Thank you all for the info provided and thanks to the mods for moving this thread to the right subforum.

    I am not planning to research this topic academically. I am just curious, because -IMHO- there are some similarities between the situation in Kurdistan and (Northern) Afghanistan and maybe we could learn something from the Turkish experiences?

    As far as I can see in the sparse media coverage the conflict gets, the Turks have made some progress when changing from a kinetic to a more population centric approach, alleviating some of the grievances of the Kurdish population. And it would be interesting to know how successful the system of village guards ( koruculuk sistemi ) is. And why things started to get worse again in 2007.

    Maybe some of the more knowledgeable forum members would offer some thoughts on these questions?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-16-2011 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Spacing

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    Quote Originally Posted by uwew
    ....I am just curious, because -IMHO- there are some similarities between the situation in Kurdistan and (Northern) Afghanistan and maybe we could learn something from the Turkish experiences?
    As regards direct application to Afghanistan, there is really very little of value to be learned from the Turkish experience, aside from in a very broad and general manner - which doesn't provide much beyond what is considered "classic" COIN and a lot of this-is-what-you-should-not-do type lessons.

    The situation of the Kurds as an ethnic minority in Turkey for a very long time was quite unique, because not only did they suffer from the common minority complaints of political underrepresentation and regional economic neglect, but their very identity as an ethnic minority was under attack. For decades, the Kurdish language was banned, Kurds were forbidden to given their children Kurdish names, Kurdish place names were changed to Turkish, and the centralized Turkish education system even taught that there was no such people as the Kurds. Unsurprisingly, this built up a lot of resentment.

    However, even with all that, only a small minority of the Kurds supported the PKK - even at the height of the conflict. Although many may have agreed with their separatist views, the vast majority just could not accept their strident Marxist ideology. As mentioned earlier, the PKK's tactic of murdering schoolteachers, other state employees and anyone they perceived as "collaborators", as well as their habit of looting villages of supplies, also did not earn them many friends among ordinary village Kurds.
    Quote Originally Posted by uwew
    ....And it would be interesting to know how successful the system of village guards ( koruculuk sistemi ) is.
    The village guard system forced ordinary Kurds to choose between support for the state and support for the PKK. If a given village did not choose to support the state, in many cases they were forcibly displaced by the military. Sometimes they fled due to attacks by neighboring village guards. If they did choose to support the state, they immediately became targets for the PKK. On the other hand, some villages chose to join the village guards simply because it gave them a state-sanctioned opportunity to settle old feuds with neighboring villages. These problems with the village guard system were experienced by the US to some degree with "local protection forces" in Iraq, but nowhere near the scale that they occurred in Turkey. Definitely not a program to be emulated.

    Another significant difference from Afghanistan is that the PKK's leadership under Öcalan was highly centralized. When he was captured PKK operations virtually ceased. It was a true example of "beheading the snake", similar to what happened to Sendero Luminoso when Guzmán and then Ramírez were captured. The failure of HVI targeting to significantly disrupt threat operations in Afghanistan clearly demonstrates that, unlike the Maoist insurgencies, no single individual is running the show.

    The slow reemergence of the PKK and violent Kurdish separatism in recent years is an indictment of Turkish state policies. The capture of Öcalan provided them with a golden opportunity to stabilize the SE and win over the Kurdish population through positive measures. This did happen to a degree, but only in fits and starts interspersed with old-fashioned Turkish refusal to accept Kurdish ethnic identity. The much-discussed "Kurdish opening" in Turkish politics has achieved some very positive gains, but it took a long time to reach that point. But the current violence is again not supported by the average Kurd in Turkey, and is still at a very low point (in comparison to the '90s), thus the state still has an opportunity to move forward and successfully interdict/disrupt the nascent insurgency before it grows into a serious military problem again.

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    I'm writing a paper about HR and TSK's COIN strategy against the PKK for my MA. There are not much books/articles about it. Indeed, an issue is the objectivity of authors, but there is some academic research on the subject. Its not very strange that majority of the Kurdish population doesn't actively support the PKK, just like the majority of Afghans doesn't support the Taliban or the majority of the Algerians didn't support the FLN. Its not relevant. In this case both the PKK and the TSK targeted the civilian population.

    Recommendations are:
    Aliza Marcus, PKK Blood And Belief (war, seen from the perspective of the PKK)
    Özdag, Ü., 2003. The PKK and Low Intensity Conflict in Turkey. Ankara, Frank Cass.
    Pamukoglu, O., 2003. Unutulanlar Dısında Yeni Bir Sey Yok, Hakkari ve Kuzey Irak Daglarındaki Askerler. Harmony, Ankara. (Turkish general's vision)
    Jongerden, J., 2007. The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds: An Analysis of Spatial Politics, Modernity and War. Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden and Boston (good analysis, also bit pro-Kurdish, but its the best on COIN).

    Bruinessen has written some articles about Kurdish identity/PKK, not much about COIN
    http://www.let.uu.nl/~martin.vanbrui...tml#articles#1

    Turkish vision on preventing use of Children by PKK:
    Preventing the PKK’s Misuse of Children by Introducing Community Policing
    http://www.coedat.nato.int/publicati...i%20Dikici.pdf

    Turkish Culture and its Influence on the Counter-Insurgency Campaign Against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)

    Ihaneti Gördum (book of former general ): http://www.boxca.com/a5lemmgvszuo/Er...3%BCm.pdf.html (downloadable)
    http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/pt...li%20paper.pdf

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    http://www.ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol...ry_2011/13.pdf
    This can be used too. Also Turkish vision on CT (Not COIN).

    One should also think of Sri Lanka as an example. Sri Lanka and Turkey are very much comparable. Exclusion of ethnic identity and ethnic nationalist/communist organizations trying to control territory in an insurgency strategy similar to the Vietcong in Vietnam. Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE, but Turkey didn't 'defeat' the PKK yet.

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    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc...c=GetTRDoc.pdf
    Actually a paper 'what we can learn from COIN in Turkey for Iraq/Afgh'. There are more papers if you search on google.com/scholar

  8. #148
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    Default Winds of change in Kurdistan?

    An IISS Strategic Comment on the changes in Kurdistan:http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...aqi-kurdistan/
    davidbfpo

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    Default Turkish Tanks Cross Into Iraq to target PKK

    Reuters) - Turkish tanks and armoured vehicles crossed into northern Iraq headed in the direction of a Kurdish militant camp, Turkish security sources said on Monday.

    The incursion came as cross-border operations continued in the wake of last week's attack by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters that killed 24 Turkish soldiers.

    The armoured column, with hundreds of troops, was moving towards a militant camp at Haftanin, around 20 km (12 miles) from the Habur border post and near the Iraqi city of Zakho, the sources said.

    Several hundred PKK fighters were believed to be based at Haftanin, the sources said. Warplanes took off earlier from bases in Diyarbakir and Malatya to launch airstrikes on the camp as the latest phase of operations began on Monday afternoon.

    Separately, the head of Turkey's armed forces, General Necdet Ozel, offered a review of recent military operations for NTV news channel.

    "The cross border operation that started on October 20 continues in a number of regions, within the framework of a determined struggle against terrorism," Ozel said in written answers to questions from NTV and posted on its website.

    Turkish air strikes have killed 250 to 270 Kurdish militants, wounded 210 and destroyed many arms stores in northern Iraq since August 17, Ozel said in the text.

    Turkish warplanes launched air strikes against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas in northern Iraq in mid-August in retaliation for a string of PKK attacks in southeast Turkey.

    The military launched fresh air-backed ground operations against the militants last week on both sides of the mountainous Turkey-Iraq border after simultaneous PKK attacks killed 24 Turkish soldiers in Hakkari province on the Iraqi border.

    On Saturday, the military said it had killed 49 militants during two days of fighting in a valley on the Turkish side of the frontier.

    Ankara's reaction to one of the deadliest attacks on its security forces in a conflict that began three decades ago had fuelled speculation that Turkey could move to a full-blown incursion to clear out PKK camps deeper inside northern Iraq.

    More than 40,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 1984. The United States, the European Union and Turkey designate the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

    (Istanbul newsroom; Edited by Roger Atwood)

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/1...79N5I420111024

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    Default Iraq in the Middle, Part III: F. Stephen Larrabee on Iraq’s Relations with Turkey

    Iraq in the Middle, Part III: F. Stephen Larrabee on Iraq’s Relations with Turkey

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

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    Default The Kurds in Syria

    ...and how they enter into the strategic tapestry that is currently unravelling in the region. Post-Assad Syria (should there be one) could very well have knock on effects for Iraqi and Turkish Kurds especially if the, admittedly small number, of Syrain Kurds are able to make some gaisn for their own ends.

    In Syria, role of Kurds divides opposition

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    Default One Turkish Prediction

    PPK first; Assad next; Wait on Syria, push for Kandil:

    In both the Turkish and American capitals, the policy decision to intervene in Syria has been delayed pending further review of logistical and military contingencies. The fact that there is no appetite on the part of the Syrian opposition for direct outside intervention, with the exception of limited protection in terms of no-fly zones or buffer areas to shelter civilians, has also contributed to this delay.
    ...
    Over dinner last week with senior editors of print media in Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Blent Arın signaled that Turkey is pondering an operation in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, where the PKK headquarters are located. The government has already obtained authorization from Parliament to launch a cross-border operation in northern Iraq. But Ankara is keenly aware that it needs to coordinate this action with the US, not only for political cover against an international reaction to a military incursion into Iraqi territory, but also to secure logistical support, in particular intelligence, from the Americans. ... (more in article)
    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Interesting slant ...

    Today, winning the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people living in all four neighboring countries is the most important objective for Turkey. As most Kurds are frustrated with the decades-long PKK terror wreaking havoc on their daily lives, they will largely welcome Turkish troops taking out hard-core militants so that peace and stability can finally come to Kurdish areas.
    Wait on Syria, push for Kandil

    Interesting slant on things. Wonder if this thought pattern is behind Turkey's lack of interest in the Kurds of northern Syria?
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    Don't worry I am sure the Kurds along Syria's northern border will have their day with the Turkish military. The reported move of thousands of PKK fighters into Syria, before May 2012, as helpful "guests", may not have been a wise move.
    davidbfpo

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    Default A 4-country Turkish Protectorate ?

    Taking Bozkurt literally:

    Today, winning the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people living in all four neighboring countries is the most important objective for Turkey. As most Kurds are frustrated with the decades-long PKK terror wreaking havoc on their daily lives, they will largely welcome Turkish troops taking out hard-core militants so that peace and stability can finally come to Kurdish areas.
    one might conclude that he is looking forward to a NeoHittite-NeoMitanni Concordat.



    Has the Middle East changed that much in 3000+ years ?



    Turkey has, as well, to look out for the millions of Turkmen in Syria, Iraq and Iran (HT to wm for that one). Thus, Turkey's Foreign Minister Davidson's (another HT to wm for that translation) visit to Iraqi Kurdistan may have had a multiple symbolism.

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    Today, winning the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people living in all four neighboring countries is the most important objective for Turkey. As most Kurds are frustrated with the decades-long PKK terror wreaking havoc on their daily lives, they will largely welcome Turkish troops taking out hard-core militants so that peace and stability can finally come to Kurdish areas.
    It is difficult to make sense of the various sources and their views on reports of Kurdish maneuvering in Iraq and Syria. It is important to point out that while apparently most Kurds want a Kurdish State, the Kurds are not united. They have numerous political parties, the KDP and PUK being the largest ones, and their relationship with the PKK varies depending on the realpolitik issue in currency.

    Key issues that I think bare watching:

    - Arab Spring emboldens Kurdish ambition for nationalism (now or never view)

    - The various Kurdish parties will likely struggle with each other for power creating opportunities for exploitation by state actors in the region.

    - Turkey making direct deals for oil with Kurds without going through Baghdad, which infuriates Baghdad.

    - Kurdish peshmerga preventing the Iraqi Army from sealing the Syrian-Iraqi border.

    - Maliki is pro-Assad, while Barzani is pro-resistance and is offering support to the resistance from Iraq. Where does Iran stand on this? What actions will they take?

    - PKK is increasing it level of activity in Turkey, while KDP and Turkey appear to be reaching an agreement, yet reports of the KDP and PKK making a secret deal.

    - Same as it has been for years, the Kurds will be a player, but they will be leveraged by other non-state actors, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, and probably the U.S.. Without unity how much power will the Kurds ultimately have?

    http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/14...-oil-deal.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...maliki-barzani

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Key issues that I think bare watching:

    - Arab Spring emboldens Kurdish ambition for nationalism (now or never view)

    - The various Kurdish parties will likely struggle with each other for power creating opportunities for exploitation by state actors in the region.

    - Turkey making direct deals for oil with Kurds without going through Baghdad, which infuriates Baghdad.

    - Kurdish peshmerga preventing the Iraqi Army from sealing the Syrian-Iraqi border.

    - Maliki is pro-Assad, while Barzani is pro-resistance and is offering support to the resistance from Iraq. Where does Iran stand on this? What actions will they take?

    - PKK is increasing it level of activity in Turkey, while KDP and Turkey appear to be reaching an agreement, yet reports of the KDP and PKK making a secret deal.

    - Same as it has been for years, the Kurds will be a player, but they will be leveraged by other non-state actors, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Israel, and probably the U.S.. Without unity how much power will the Kurds ultimately have?

    http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/14...-oil-deal.html

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...maliki-barzani
    I would add:

    President Mam Jalal Talabani and the PUK,

    Mohammed Saleh Muslim and the PYD

    Feyli Kurds
    The KRG and it's boundaries, in particular Kirkuk

    Free-rider-ship problem, for all involved but with emphasis on the extraregional patrons of Turkey, Iran, & Kurdistan
    Sapere Aude

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    Landis on Assad's Kurdish Strategy:

    Assad’s Kurdish strategy appears to be to help the PKK to take control of the Kurdish regions of Syria in the North East. His aim is to hurt both the Free Syrian Army and Turkey, which are leading the opposition against him. In general, his strategy is to weaken the Sunni Arabs of Syria.
    and

    The Kurdish parts of Syria will undoubtedly become the focus of the power struggle that is emerging in the region over Syria. Sunni Arabs and Turks will line up against it. Shiite forces will be inclined to encourage Kurdish independence if only to hurt the Sunni Arabs by playing minorities of every stripe against the against the FSA, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US.

    But what should the Kurds do? All Kurds are looking to take advantage of the collapse of central authority in Syria. They see this as an historic opportunity to press for their freedom and national rights. But how hard should they press and how fast? Should they work with Turkey against Assad or should they fight Turkey and ally with Assad? Is this a moment for caution or for audacity?
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Default Just Curious ....

    I am not a UN analyst, but if the Kurdish area of Syria and the Kurdish area of Iraq were to break away and form an independent state, could they request a UN Peace Keeping presence?
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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    H/T to Dave Dilegge to linking to this article in this morning's roundup.

    Sinan Ulgen is the chairman of the Istanbul-based think tank EDAM and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.
    The National Interest, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_National_Interest

    Turkey's Syria Conundrum, Sinan Ulgen | August 24, 2012, The National Interest, http://nationalinterest.org/commenta...conundrum-7385

    Syria used to be the poster child for Ankara’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy. At the peak of their rapprochement, Turkey and Syria were holding joint cabinet meetings and talking about spearheading a common market in the Middle East. Then the Arab wave of reforms reached Damascus. The relationship turned hostile as the Syrian leadership resisted reforms and engaged in large-scale massacres to subdue the opposition.
    With this policy of direct confrontation, Ankara not only strove to obtain the moral high ground. It also sought to precipitate the fall of Assad while building a relationship with the future leadership of Syria by heavily investing in the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council.

    Today, this policy of forcefully pushing the regime change agenda in Syria is under criticism domestically as some of the risks of a post-Assad world are becoming clearer.

    The fear in Turkey is of Syria’s disintegration into ethnically and religiously purer ministates, with a Kurdish entity in the north, an Alawite entity in the west and a Sunni entity in the rest. The Kurdish opposition’s recent unilateral power grab in northeastern Syria rekindled Turkish concerns about the emergence of an independent Kurdish entity linking the north of Iraq to the north of Syria.
    Sapere Aude

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