The PKK has backed itself into a corner through its attacks, policies and tactics and now faces a growing alliance against it.
The Marxist-Leninist PKK recently ambushed the Kurdish Peshmerga forces with an anti-tank guided missile in Matina Mountain in the town of Amedi in northern Iraq. As a result, five Peshmergas were killed and four others wounded. In response, Peshmerga forces sent reinforcements to the region and cut off supply to the PKK.
This latest terror attack by the PKK reveals the new reality of the region: the PKK has fewer friends and is on the verge of losing its presence in the mountains. In its desperation, it resorted to attacking Kurds in Iraq, adding to its already long list of enemies.
The PKK has now reached the same stage that led to the demise of Daesh. Both terror groups made more enemies than they could handle. Daesh demonstrated that unrestrained terror creates a natural opposition alliance that ultimately leads to its demise. The PKK is now learning this lesson.
In the past, the PKK tried hard to limit its terror activities to Turkey, and thus, the group was of little concern to Arabs. Nowadays, the PKK is engaged in ethnic cleansing against Arabs and Turkmen in Syria, making itself an enemy to the Syrian Interim Government and its armed forces, the Syrian National Army.
PKK's targeting of Kurds in northern Iraq crosses a line that is proving to be disastrous for the group. Its attack against the Kurdish Regional Government’s economic lifeline was a wake-up call for the US. The PKK has established a sort of totalitarian minority governance in Arab tribal belts in Syria and through its actions, the PKK has evolved into a common threat to Turks, Kurds and Arabs.
After 2018, the PKK entered a phase of repeated losses. Turkish security forces have brought PKK terror attacks down to almost zero. The Syrian National Army, supported by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), cleared Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn in Syria from the PKK.
In Iraq, Turkey’s blueprint for success, based on drones and checkpoints, continues to make significant gains. The TAF, supported by Kurdish village guards, have cleared several PKK tunnels in the mountainous region of northern Iraq and cut off the PKK’s access to Turkey.
While this was happening, the Kurdish Peshmerga cooperated with Turkey and blockaded the PKK’s route to escape further south. The KRG aims to limit the fighting to the areas where the PKK operates and wants to prevent the PKK from bringing the ‘war’ deeper into its territories.
Unnamed regional alliance
The PKK has been able to survive mainly due to the natural protection provided by the mountains in northern Iraq.
However, this strategy, too, has failed with the new Turkish model of drones and checkpoints and the increasing alienation of the Kurds. The PKK now faces a new trauma of losing the mountains. From the north, the TAF are advancing day by day, in the south, Kurdish forces are cutting off the PKK. This growing fear and insecurity within the PKK facilitated the attacks against the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The PKK feels encircled as it can only operate in the Qandil, Gara, Makhmour and Sinjar mountains with no direct access to Turkey. Even there, the TAF keep the PKK under pressure and are signalling new military operations to clear them of the group.
Additionally, both the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government signed deals to expel the PKK from the Sinjar region. Iran's support to the PKK may keep it alive today, but can’t be relied on forever.
On the other side of the border in Syria, Arab tribes are rising up against the PKK/YPG, too. The PKK/YPG may have kept the uprising at bay by killing at least six tribesmen, but the tactic is unsustainable. Currently, Kurds make up 20 percent of the areas held by the PKK/YPG, and they do not support the PKK/YPG. As a report by Rena Netjes and Erwin van Veen shows, the PKK/YPG suppresses Kurdish political parties, and kills, tortures and exiles Kurdish politicians.
The PKK/YPG hasn’t reached an agreement with the Kurdish National Council despite US mediation. Moreover, the PKK/YPG prevents the Roj Peshmerga, made up of Syrian Kurds, from entering Syria, and currently live in exile.
In short, Turks, Kurds, and Arabs are fighting against the PKK simultaneously in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. This natural alliance against the PKK was recently portrayed best in the statement by the Syrian National Coalition, the official representative of the Syrian people, which condemned the PKK attack against the Peshmerga forces and expressed its condolences. The Syrian National Coalition elects the Syrian Interim Government that commands the Syrian National Army.
The Syrian Interim Government is the local partner of Turkey in Syria. Among the member parties of the Syrian National Coalition are Turkmen and Kurds, like the Kurdish National Council and Syria’s Independent Kurdish Association party. The Roj Peshmerga is the armed branch of the Kurdish National Council.
While the actions of Daesh led to the formation of an international coalition to fight against it, the actions of the PKK have created an unnamed and unofficial regional coalition to fight it.
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