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Kurdish Violence in Turkey Unlikely to Abate

An update to: Kurdish Group May Have Turkish Tourist Industry In Its Crosshairs Tensions in Turkey remain high after a spate of attacks against police and tourist targets. The latest incident, on September 10, involved an alleged plot to stage attacks in Istanbul that was thwarted when Turkish police arrested two PKK members and five accomplices. Both the PKK and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) have escalated their terrorist operations and show little sign of abating in their campaign of violence. Turks are calling upon their government to respond in force, but government retaliation will probably provoke a growing spiral of violence and do little to debate the separatist movement’s strength. Both the PKK and the TAK derive their strength from their ability to maintain unmolested bases in northern Iraq , especially in the Mt. Kandil region on the Iranian border. The United States will not allow Turkey to stage operations against Kurdish strongholds in northern Iraq and will not engage the PKK itself , in fear of contributing to Iraqi destabilization. As a result of their strong rear-base, the Turkish government will have difficulty weakening these organizations by attacking only their presence in Turkey. The TAK has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks in the latest campaign of violence against tourists and civilians. Although the PKK may issue statements condemning these attacks, evidence indicates that the TAK was created by the PKK in order to claim responsibility for attacks whose victims are civilians. In doing so, the PKK hopes to deflect international and domestic backlash resulting from these attacks. If true, then the TAK is more dangerous than previously suspected. The organization would have access to PKK training bases, explosives specialists, and large quantities of plastic explosives. Given the resources and expertise available to it, the TAK has the potential to become far deadlier than it has been. It has been holding back in the scope and scale of its attacks in order to avoid a major crackdown. Should such a crackdown come from the Turkish government, the TAK may escalate in retaliation. For political reasons, the TAK may attempt to single out British and American tourists from other Europeans. Most foreign victims of recent TAK attacks have been British. Continental European countries have exhibited a more apathetic attitude toward Kurdish separatist entities operating within their borders, allowing the movement a valuable presence in Europe that they will strive to maintain. Conversely, the UK and the US have more stridently condemned Kurdish separatist organizations. If they go too far, these separatist movements risk their hideouts in the Mt. Kandil region, but there is significant room for the violence to escalate before the US and Iraq agree to take that step.

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