The Anatomy of PKK Terrorism: Türkiye’s Strategies and the Attitudes of the InternationalCommunity

The PKK is an organization designated as a terrorist entity, situated in Northern Iraq, which was established in 1978 and has perpetrated numerous violent acts. Its primary objective is to achieve an autonomous Kurdish state in the Middle East, with a particular focus on executing terrorist activities in Iraq, Iran, and Türkiye. The organization has conducted a wide range of operations since its inception, including suicide bombings, car bomb attacks, child abductions, village raids, as well as targeting educators and medical professionals. While the PKK has been officially recognized as a terrorist organization by several European countries, certain radical left factions regard them as freedom fighters and militants, thereby, justifying their activities. While the organization leverages the plight of the Kurdish population for propaganda purposes, the situation in Türkiye is contrary to this narrative.

PKK’s Ties with European Radical Left: A Complicated Partnership

European radical left factions consider the PKK as a liberation movement fighting for the rights of the Kurdish population in Türkiye and against the oppressive Turkish government. Such groups view the organization as a freedom fighter rather than a terrorist entity, fighting against injustice. Furthermore, the European Kurdish Diaspora endeavors to exonerate the PKK and portray itself as the representative of the oppressed Kurdish people. Supporters of the organization in Europe assert that it continues its struggle against the Turkish government in Türkiye but has not engaged in any violent acts in Europe. Additionally, they contend that the PKK cooperates with numerous Kurdish associations and non- governmental organizations in Europe and provides assistance to Kurdish refugees fleeing from the Turkish government’s oppression. The events that took place on Christmas Eve in 2022 are the best example of the fact that PKK supporters can commit terrorist acts in Europe and the seriousness of this situation. Protesters chanted
slogans against Türkiye and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and demanded that the French government provide support to the PKK’s armed wing, the YPG. During the protests, baton containers were set on fire, businesses were looted and various vehicles were set on fire. French authorities intervened and detained at-least five people. Parisians were shocked by the news of PKK protests causing chaos in the streets of Paris.

On February 15, 2022, PKK supporters entered the General Assembly of the European Parliament and unfurled banners with the picture of the leader of the organization, Abdullah Öcalan. In a tragicomic sense, although the PKK is among the organizations that EU countries define as a terrorist organization, this banner opening event was not interfered with. This incident reveals the seriousness of Europe in the fight against terrorism.
The number of European countries that have decided to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization is increasing. These countries argue that the PKK conducted terrorist attacks in Türkiye and carried out acts of violence in Europe. However, Europe contradicts itself on this issue. Because the supporters of the organization can hold demonstrations and marches with terror flags and symbols.

Distinguishing between the Kurdish people and the PKK

The PKK terrorist organization has caused many people to lose their lives and disturbed the social peace in Türkiye for years. The majority of Kurdish people express their strong opposition towards the PKK, due to their violent and destructive tactics which undermine the peace and stability of the region. Türkiye’s Southeastern Anatolia region, where the majority of the wolf population lives and where the PKK has carried out many actions, has witnessed the aggressive and bloody actions of the organization.
For this reason, the people of the region have witnessed firsthand that the PKK threatens the stability of the country, puts the lives of innocent people at risk, and undermines regional peace. The general population provides active support to Turkish Armed Forces in combating the PKK’s terrorist activities through collaborative efforts with the civil defense system, including the establishment of the “village protection” initiative.

The PKK also loots and sabotages villages in the region. Especially in order to raise armed militants for themselves, they have been smuggling babies and children into the mountains for years, raising them with their own propaganda and education. Dozens of mothers, whose children were kidnapped in September 2019 and whose fate is unknown, started to take action to make their voices heard. They held a prolonged sit-in in front of the “People’s Democratic Party” building, which is seen as the political branch of the PKK. This resistance of civilians still continues and called as “Diyarbakır Mothers”.

Exploring potential solutions: Moving beyond the problem at hand

In 2009, the government led by Erdogan believed that the PKK’s disarmament and sitting on the table could be a permanent solution, and for this purpose, a project called “Solution Process” was launched in 2014. In this context, the government held talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the terrorist organization, and did many changes in the “pardon law against terrorism”. However, throughout the process, the PKK has strengthened its settlements in northern Iraq by receiving millions of dollars of
aid from foreign sources. The terrorist organization disrupted this “Solution Process” with its attack on a police station in July 2015. Among the bloodiest actions that followed was the Ankara Station Attack, which resulted in 109 deaths and 600 injuries, and the 2015 Cizre Bomb Attack, which killed 11 police officers.

The Turkish people, in general, have never supported the “Solution Process”. The society believed that terrorism can be solved not by laying down arms but by attacking the enemy with the strongest force.
Indeed, this way has always been against this attitude of the Erdogan government until recent years. By 2023, the PKK’s power inside Türkiye had been reduced to the point of almost extinction. In particular, the problems regarding the security of the southeast region have been eliminated and the northern Iraq border has become completely safe with the successful operations of the Turkish Armed Forces. Despite the various counter-terrorism policies by Türkiye, the PKK remains a terrorist organization that persists in carrying out operations in certain areas of Iran, Northern Iraq, and Syria. Moreover, as long as the organization continues to receive support from groups in abroad, the solidarity of the international community with Türkiye against terrorism is nothing more than empty rhetoric. Within Türkiye, both Turkish and Kurdish communities are steadfastly opposed to the organization and are resolute in their efforts to counter its activities.


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