The Middle East Channel

Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels clash near Iraq border

Twenty-six combatants have been killed as Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) clashed at three army outposts in Hakkari province, near the Turkey-Iraq border. It is the most violent episode this year in the 30-year long ethno-nationalist conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish minority. 100 rebels from the PKK launched ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Twenty-six combatants have been killed as Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) clashed at three army outposts in Hakkari province, near the Turkey-Iraq border. It is the most violent episode this year in the 30-year long ethno-nationalist conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish minority. 100 rebels from the PKK launched a dawn attack against Turkish military installations using rifles and rocket launchers, killing eight soldiers and wounding 18. Turkish troops retaliated, killing 18 rebels. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul have both condemned the violence and denounced the PKK militants as terrorists. Selahattin Demirtas, the head of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, has also criticized the hostilities, adding "The PKK should stop all kinds of armed activity. The government should also halt (military) operations. Let them give a political solution a chance." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdogan has offered some concessions to Parliament in an attempt to resolve to the conflict.

Syria

After fierce fighting, Syrian activists reported that rebels have killed at least 20 Syrian soldiers in Latakia. In addition 5 troops died in a car bomb attack at a checkpoint in Idlib. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that in total, 29 soldiers and a Shia Muslim Cleric were killed across Syria on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of residents have fled the shelling in Homs, but according to the Observatory, around 10,000 families are still surrounded, targeted by the Syrian army and security forces. Meanwhile, Maj. General Robert Mood, head of the U.N. observer mission to Syria, told the Security Council, in his first direct report, that his monitors were repeatedly targeted with gunfire last week. General Mood suspended the mission on Saturday due to increased violence and recently expressed doubts about the future of the mission, but added that observers are "morally obliged" to remain in Syria. Meanwhile, a Russian ship bound for Syria, which was carrying refurbished attack helicopters, has reportedly turned back as a British company canceled the vessel’s insurance.

Headlines

  • Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in critical condition after suffering a stroke in prison. He was later transferred to a military hospital in Cairo.
  • Militants in Iraq attacked electrical transmission towers and lines in Diyala province near the Iranian border.
  • The latest nuclear talks held in Moscow among the P5+1 and Iran have been suspended as the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton cites "significant gaps between the substance of the two positions." Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has denounced the proposals as "unreasonable demands."
  • Clashes erupted along the Israel-Gaza border as Hamas militants fired 45 rockets and mortars into southern Israel. Israeli warplanes launched three air strikes in Gaza, targeting a training center for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in addition to Hamas police centers.

Arguments & Analysis

Army misrule is turning Egypt into Pakistan‘ (Shashank Joshi, The Telegraph)

"Today, Washington should make a different choice in Egypt. It should tell the generals that the billions of dollars of American aid they receive every year, and the cutting-edge tanks and jets, will be conditional on a swift, meaningful and irreversible handover to elected civilians. That won’t fix everything, but it might buy time for a political process to take hold. The junta will respond by threatening to tear up the peace treaty with Israel, but this bluff has grown old. It should be ignored. Ultimately, it is for Egyptians to decide whether they take to the streets once more, and risk further and perhaps futile bloodshed, or accommodate to military tutelage. But we (Britain, after all, still sells arms to Egypt) should not be enabling a junta to crush Egypt’s nascent democratic institutions with impunity."

The Siren Call of Israeli Unilateralism‘ (Lara Friedman, The Daily Beast)

"Today, that good faith and political will are precisely what are missing on the part of the Netanyahu government. This absence is evident both in the Netanyahu government’s approach to negotiations and in its adoption of enthusiastically pro-settlement policies-policies that, by creating and expanding facts on the ground, exemplify the kind of Israeli unilateralism that is inimical to a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Given this reality, supporters of the two-state solution who find themselves seduced by the siren call of unilateralism should beware. Not all unilateralism is new or constructive; the devil is and will always be in the details. Here’s a final riddle:  What do you call proposals for unilateral actions by Israel that benefit the settlers, not the cause of peace? Answer: More of the same."

A tale of two Turkeys’ (Oguz Alyanak, OpenDemocracy)

"Do we have to wait for a Turkey that is facing an economic crisis, with hoards of unemployed people taking over the streets and asking for a revolution, as in the countries of the Arab Spring, to be able to talk about democracy and freedom? Does security and freedom have to come in mutually exclusive forms where gaining one leads to the loss of the other? In Turkey, the decision to be made is not between an illiberal democracy versus a liberal autocracy, but whether Turkey is on the verge of losing the very faintest signals of its emerging democracy. Perhaps Paul Auster  lately scolded by the Prime Minister for boycotting Turkey, has the answer: "All countries are flawed and beset by myriad problems, Mr. Prime Minister, including my United States, including your Turkey, and it is my firm conviction that in order to improve conditions in our countries, in every country, the freedom to speak and publish without censorship or the threat of imprisonment is a sacred right for all men and women.""

–By Jennifer Parker 

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