Foreign Policy

published : 2023-08-24

Ankara's Airstrike in Northern Iraq Eliminates Three Kurdish Insurgents Amid Rising Diplomatic Heat

Turkish military intensifies strikes against members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) secreted away in Iraq's northern regions

A shot of a Turkish military drone in the sky, set against a dusky backdrop. A subtle representation of the increasing heat of conflict. (Taken with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark III)

The longstanding conflict between the Turkish military and Kurdish insurgents has further escalated with a recent Turkish airstrike in northern Iraq, resulting in the death of three Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members.

The operational onslaught against the PKK, rampant in northern Iraq, has seen a surge in recent weeks, pitching Turkey and its cohorts against Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria.

Counterinsurgency efforts have targeted the PKK, a group Ankara denounces as a terrorist organization, for its prolonged rebellion within Turkey's territorial bounds.

Turkey also berates allied Kurdish factions in Syria and Iraq, and accuses these groups of seeking refuge in the Kurdish-dominated region of northern Iraq.

The deadly strike on Thursday was carried out by a Turkish military drone in the vicinity of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, resulting in the fatal elimination of one PKK leader and two militants.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, quoted following the incident, said that Turkey has made 'great progress' in handling the issue of PKK combatants concealed within Iraqi frontiers.

A quiet corner of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, illustrating the city at the center of the unfolding events. Capture the vibrant local life amidst the political tensions. (Taken with a Nikon D6)

Striving to dismantle this 'virus', as Fidan describes it, he aspires to cleanse Iraqi lands of such elements.

Despite the day's tragic events, the issue was not addressed in a joint news announcement presented by Fidan and the local Kurdish Head, Masrour Barzani.

Barzani, on his part, emphasized his administration's desire to uphold regional equilibrium, guaranteeing that northern Iraq would refrain from triggering instability for its neighbors.

Turkish Foreign Minister's visit to Irbil was preceded by a sojourn in Baghdad, where he called on the central Iraqi government to officially brand the PKK a terrorist entity.

Conversations also revolved around restoring Iraqi Kurdish oil exports through Turkey's Ceyhan port, a matter of contention between Baghdad and Irbil for lengthy periods.

Baghdad regularly appeals against Turkish airstrikes in northern Iraq, terming them as infringement upon national sovereignty.

Portrait of Masrour Barzani, the leader of the local Kurdish government, standing at his office or speaking at a press conference. Reflect the weight of governance during turmoil. (Taken with a Sony Alpha 1)

Fidan retorted, labeling PKK's operations as a 'challenge against Iraq’s sovereignty', accusing their attempts of linking Iraq and Syria through a 'terror corridor'.

Fidan's arrival in the Kurdish region of Iraq comes at a time when latent turbulence is brewing within the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the duo governing the semi-autonomous region.

While the KDP exhibits stronger alignment with Turkey, showcasing an increased tolerance for Turkish military incursions, the PUK leans towards the PKK and Iran, eschewing Turkish influence.

Notwithstanding the sensitive coalition between the KDP and PUK, their historical animosities frequently surface, often inflamed by discordant stances on Turkish military actions within the region.