This morning I was pleasantly surprised to read a piece sent along by Tina, that pointed to a potential breakthrough in the decades long fighting between Kurdish seperatists and the Turkish government.
ANKARA: The Turkish government and jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Turkish media reported Wednesday.
The deal was reached during a new round of talks between Ankara and Ocalan and aims to have the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) lay down arms in March, private news network NTV and Radikal newspaper reported.
An initial cessation of hostilities was to evolve into a fully-fledged ceasefire agreement over the following months, they said, without revealing their sources for the reported breakthrough.
Not to put too fine a point on it, such a peace deal would be a regional game changer, with the potential for knock-on effects into Iraq, Iran and Syria as well. I was just beginning to wrap my head around the possibilities – and then I saw news of the executions of three woman Kurdish activists in France. The three – including PKK founder member Sakine Cansiz – were shot in the head at close range sometime last night.
Someone in the Turkish corridors of power (possibly in the military heirarchy, they have most to lose from losing their war) or in the PKK’s anti-peace faction decided a provocation was needed.
One PKK member has told me that Turkish “deep state” or “contra guerilla” intelligence operatives were responsible for the murders, in a deliberate attempt to scupper peace talks between the Turkish government and PKK, or at the very least to remind the PKK that its room for manoeuvre is limited and that it is being watched.
As an add on to this theory, it is possible that the Turks became so fed up with PKK activity in Europe that they decided to take the law into their own hands in France.
However, just as likely for now is the theory that the women were killed as part of an internal PKK split, between those like Cansiz who supported the peace process and those who did not.
CNN’s Ivan Watson has a very good short run-down on the possible culprits and possible consequences.
I know Americans are likely to ignore this story, but they shouldn’t. This is a potential spark in a powderkeg, in a region which already has more than enough flashpoints. The downstream consequences could be widespread and include internal Kurdish faction fights that could spark war between Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi central government or push Syria’s Kurds fully into either the regime or rebel’s camps at last, and more.