Just one day after Turkish elections on Sunday reaffirmed the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP’s) command of parliament, the Turkish military commenced a new series of airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, including strikes on PKK bases in Iraq. PKK officials told the Wall Street Journal that the resumption of airstrikes on Monday demonstrates that the Turkish government is not interested in peace talks. Turkey has been fighting PKK forces since a two-year ceasefire broke down over the summer. At least 150 Turkish military personnel and hundreds of PKK fighters have been killed in the fighting.
In addition to airstrikes, the Turkish military has imposed a curfew in parts of southeastern Diyarbakir province. In the town of Silvan, the PKK has dug trenches to hinder Turkish military access to neighborhoods affected by the curfew. Unrest is not limited to Kurdish-majority regions, though: After the election on Sunday, security forces broke up a pro-Kurdish protest in Ankara.
Cyclone Chapala Makes Landfall in al-Qaeda-Controlled City
Yemen’s southern coast is being pummeled by Cyclone Chapala, a severe storm that has made landfall near the the city of Mukalla. The city is currently administered by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which warned people of the impending storm on loudspeakers, according to residents on Twitter. The storm has reportedly damaged the city’s seafront. “Many people have left their homes and are seeking refuge in schools,” a resident told reporters. “No relief or aid efforts are under way by either the tribal council or al-Qaeda, and the situation is really bad.”
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- Two Syrian anti-Islamic State activists who were found beheaded in Sanliurfa, Turkey, last week were killed by a man posing as an Islamic State defector who is believed to have fled back to the organization, according to an NBC interview with one of the victims’ brother.
- The Saudi prince arrested in Lebanon last week for trying to smuggle two tons of Captagon amphetamine pills has been formally charged with drug smuggling in a Beirut court along with nine others.
- Russia says it is working on consultations with Syrian rebel groups on holding peace talks after proposing a list of potential rebel groups that might participate at talks in Vienna last week; Iran threatened to quit those international talks on Monday if Saudi Arabia does not play a “constructive” role.
- Another Iranian military officers, a colonel in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has been killed in fighting in Aleppo, Syria.
- Ahmed Chalabi — once the head of the Iraq National Congress, a group of Iraqi exiles opposed to Saddam Hussein’s rule that provided false intelligence instrumental to the Bush Administration’s case for war — died at his home at the age of 71 of an apparent heart attack.
Arguments and Analysis
“The AKP’s Surprising but Pyrrhic Victory” (Gonul Tol, Middle East Institute)
“Yet the AKP’s [Justice and Development Party’s] win might prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. The ruling party presides over a country in which large portions of the public, particularly the Kurds, distrust the state. The government’s recent military action against the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party] might prove too costly to continue. The AKP can ill afford a war with the Kurds at a time when the Turkish economy desperately needs short-term capital flows. The new government will have to try hard to dispel the image, via a vis international investors, of a country at war. Erdogan has thrived on polarization. His divisive rhetoric — denigrating AKP opponents as traitors or terrorists and concocting conspiracy theories that portray the ruling party as the target of an international plot — has rallied supporters to the party. These portrayals have pitted the AKP against an opposition that has felt further marginalized and threatened. Polarization is likely to increase after Sunday’s results, making it more difficult for the AKP to govern effectively.”
“Stalemate, not statehood, for Iraqi Kurdistan” (Denise Natali, Markaz)
“Finally, in assessing the strategic end state of the Kurdistan Region, geopolitics remains tantamount. No matter how disinterested Kurds are in being Iraqis, they live in a landlocked territory that remains dependent on Baghdad, and increasingly Turkey and Iran. These dependencies have resulted in alliances that not only keep borders open and intact, but provide different Kurdish parties with external patronage to balance power inside the Kurdistan Region. It is not the KRG that will unilaterally declare independence, sending ripple effects throughout the region; rather, it is strong and assertive regional states, namely Turkey and Iran, that will influence the trajectory of the Kurdistan Region. Unless these conditions fundamentally change, the Kurdistan Region will continue to exist in political limbo while seeking to leverage its interests in a weak Iraqi state.”
-J. Dana Stuster
Gokhan Tan/Getty Images