Turkish offensive against PKK in northern Iraq

Just a few weeks before the presidential election takes place on June 24 the Turkish military has launched an offensive against the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq. It says its troops are advancing on the PKK headquarters in the Qandil Mountains. On Tuesday the Turkish airforce reportedly destroyed 16 targets and killed 6 PKK fighters. What is behind this offensive?

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Sabah (TR) /

PKK must be fought across borders

The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has criticised Turkey's planned offensive because it says it doubts that the PKK is still based in Qandil. The pro-government daily Sabah will have nothing of the idea:

“For example, has the PKK not benefited from crises in the region in recent years and redoubled its attacks against Turkey? We all know that Turkey cannot confine the fight against the PKK to its territory alone. As long as the PKK's cross-border activity is allowed to continue Turkey will not be able to guarantee its national security. ... Operation Olive Branch [in northern Syria] which was initiated in this context has dealt a serious blow to the PKK. ... Now it's Qandil's turn. The CHP, however, is not happy about that. Why not? Because it believes that the AKP and President Erdoğan will win the people's approval with this operation!”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

This could backfire

As an election campaign tactic this military operation entails huge risks, the taz puts in:

“An attack on the Qandil Mountains could also backfire. After all, it's not for nothing that the PKK has been able to hold out there for two years. Dead soldiers and dead civilians in Iraq won't exactly put a government in a good light. What's more, the Turkish public has had enough of this topic. An attack on Qandil could therefore have the opposite effect of that which Erdoğan is hoping for and strengthen the camp of those who prefer negotiation to force.”