Kurdish rebels attack Turkish army in Diyarbakir and Sirnak, casualties reported

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Members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). File photo

ARA News

At least 10 Turkish soldiers were killed in two separate attacks by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey, military sources reported on Sunday.

The PKK fighters attacked a Turkish army convoy in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir, killing at least eight Turkish soldiers.

In Sirnak, the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party attacked a Turkish border post. At least two soldiers were killed and three others were wounded.

In the meantime, the Turkish General Command condemned the attacks in an official statement on Sunday.

On Saturday, Turkey’s military reported the death of 14 PKK fighters in two separate offensives in the Kurdish provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak.

Resuming Peace Process Unlikely 

Experts told ARA News that a return to peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) –that fell apart in July 2015– is unlikely, after rumours that peace talks could re-start in Turkey.

Meral Akşener, a former interior minister and an opponent of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), hinted a couple of times that there are talks going on between PKK leader Ocalan and Ankara.

Moreover, Cevat Öneş, a former Deputy Undersecretary of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT), said there is a need to revive the peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurds.

However, analysts suggest it’s unlikely that there would be a return to the peace process.

“In view of the bitterness of the constitutional fight, the dragnet of Kurdish politicians, academics and activists and especially the effort to erase the gains Kurds made in the last few years along cultural lines, I find it impossible that the peace process will restart,” Dr. Henri J. Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars told ARA News.

“Erdogan has committed himself to a hardline policy; he will change assuming he stays on as president for sometime to come, but it will not be soon,” he said.

“First of all, we need to define what Erdogan means when he talks about a peace process,” said Amberin Zaman, a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“Is it about imposing his vision of what that is: cultural and linguistic rights say like private Kurdish language education, publications  and allowing Kurdish parties which have no known connections to the PKK to operate freely,” she told ARA News. “Or is it getting back to the table with Ocalan and the PKK and making the sorts of constitutional changes and striking the kinds of deals that would give Turkey’s Kurds confidence that they will henceforth have constitutionally enshrined rights that are no longer hostage to the whims of this or that Turkish leader,” she added.

Therefore, she said it’s hard to imagine a return to the peace process.

“Judging by the developments that have unfolded since the June 2015 election, it is very hard to imagine the latter scenario coming into play. After the referendum Erdogan may well make some gestures to the Kurds but they will be to the strict exclusion of the PKK-inspired groups and organizations,” Zaman said.

“Unless Ocalan agrees to getting his men to unilaterally withdraw from Turkey leaving their weapons behind, and for the YPG (Syrian Kurdish forces) to confine itself strictly to the east of the Euphrates [in northern Syria] it seems unlikely he would be willing to engage with him. But in the end we are talking about a leader who can make U turns when needed as witnessed in relations with Israel and Russia,” she added.

James F. Jeffrey, the former US ambassador in Ankara, suggested during a congressional hearing in Washington that Turkey might be more flexible after the presidential referendum.

“Once that is behind him, he may be more flexible with the PKK and YPG, as he was before summer 2015,” Jeffrey said. “The YPG, in turn, would require assurances that its core Kurdish territory would not be pressured by Turkey.”

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