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 Hitting Kurdish PKK rebels in Syrian Kurdistan dangerous for Turkey: Analysts

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Hitting Kurdish PKK rebels in Syrian Kurdistan dangerous for Turkey: Analysts  28.7.2012  

Osman Bahadır Dinçer is a Turkish researcher studying on Middle East and Political Science. Photo: CNNTurk See Related Links
July 28, 2012

ISTANBUL,— Turkey this week cranked up its already-heated rhetoric against Kurdish militants in the Kurdish northern Syrian region (western Kurdistan), saying it would not hesitate to go after PKK fighters, just as it has in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Analysts warn such a move would be dangerous for Turkey and further complicate Syria's deadly conflict and the volatile regional situation.

"If you implement a hot pursuit against the PKK militias in northern Syria, the government in Syria will react very differently from the Iraqi government," Osman Bahadir Dincer of the Ankara-based USAK thinktank said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said it was a "given" that Turkish troops would pursue fleeing Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants inside Syria if they struck Turkey.

The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Turkey regularly bombs suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq, with both Baghdad and the government in the autonomous Kurdish region forced to accept the military strikes.

Relations between the former close political allies Turkey and Syria have disintegrated as Ankara has lashed out against Syrian President Bashar Assad's bloody response to the ongoing uprising against his rule, which so far has led to the deaths of about 19,000 people since mid-March 2011.

The relationship soured further after Syria shot down a Turkish jet on June 22.

Though Syria is facing isolation from many Western powers, analysts warn that Turkish military action in Syria risks the wrath of some of the country's powerful allies.

"If Turkey brings soldiers onto Syrian soil by itself and not as part of an international operation, it would be an open provocation to Russia and Iran," said Cengiz Candar of the daily Radikal newspaper.

Hurriyet daily news writer Semih Idiz said any military operation would be doomed to lead Turkey into "new and unwelcome adventures, which will not only ruin the ongoing rapprochement with Kurdish northern Iraq, but also aggravate the Kurdish problem in Turkey."

Analysts say Turkey must stick with diplomacy and work with the region's Arab Sunni tribes, which hold sway over the largely Sunni Kurdish population.

"They have an influence on these people, so if Turkey can cooperate with these Arab Sunni tribes then we can cut the influence of PKK and PYD on the territory," Dincer said.

The PYD, or Kurdish Democratic Union Party, is a Syrian Kurdish group close to the PKK.

Kurds uniting to manage region

Erdogan on Wednesday accused Assad's regime of allotting five northern Syrian provinces to Kurds and said he would consider creating a military buffer zone on the border between Turkey and Syria.

Hugh Pope of the International Crisis Group said the situation was more complex than Erdogan claimed.

"The fact is that PYD is not controlling all of the situation in northern Syria," he said. "On the ground they are currently working with the other Kurdish groups."

The traditional parties of Syria's Kurds have been largely suspicious of the PYD, particularly following an influx of Kurds from northern Iraq to the area.

But despite the differences, the region's communities signed an accord on July 11, under the sponsorship of Massud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdistan region.

Since then, the Kurdish National Council, which groups around a dozen traditional Kurdish Syrian parties, has joined the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, a PYD offshoot, under the banner of the Supreme Kurdish Council.

Ankara could find solutions in the town of Erbil in Iraq's Kurdish region, where officials could use their influence among various Kurdish movements to defuse tensions with Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to head to Erbil next week.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

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