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Foreign policy Conflict

Endgame in Sight for the Conflict between Turkey and the PKK?

PKK militant
PKK militant. Photo: James (Jim) Gordon/Wikimedia Commons.

For more than 40 years Turkey has been involved in a prolonged struggle with various types of terrorism perpetrated by domestic and international terrorist organisations. Between 1970 and 2011, the country saw more than 2,800 terrorist incidents. In the last 30 years, the main focus of Turkish counter-terrorist efforts has been on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey’s Conflict with the PKK. In 1984, the PKK began an armed insurgency aimed at the establishment of an independent, socialist state (Kurdistan) for the 25-30 million Kurds that inhabit mostly Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The organisation developed a transnational apparatus in the region, operating under various names in different countries, with logistical and organisational support from members of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe. Throughout the years, the PKK has become almost synonymous with the cause of the Kurds. The PKK’s charismatic founder and leader, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured in 1999, but that did nothing to abate the organisation’s long-term zeal, and the insurgency regained impetus in 2011.