PKK debates ceasefire after Turkey extends "right" to conduct strikes against Kurds in Iraq
Turkey's parliament voted to extend a mandate that allows Ankara to conduct military strikes against Kurdish rebels residing in neighboring Iraq, according to AFP.
Delegates from all parties except for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, voted in favor of the extension for at least one more year. The current mandate, which is scheduled to expire on October 17th, was first drafted into law in 2007.
Turkey hopes to use air aids against the Kurdistan Worker's Party's (PKK) bases in northern Iraq. The PKK, who has led a bloody 29-year campaign for Kurdish autonomy, is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Over 40,000 people, most of whom are Kurds, have been killed in clashes between PKK and other groups over the past three decades.
Turkey's air strike mandate renewal coincides with Turkish PM Erdogan's implementation of recent political and social reforms aimed to improve ties with the Kurdish community and end PKK's Turkish occupation and battle with Ankara, according to AFP.
Last month, PKK leaders refused to comply with a planned pull-out from Turkish soil until the Turkish government implemented reforms such as the right to education in the Kurdish language, changes to election system procedures, and the degree of Kurdish regional autonomy. Erdogan responded to their demands with new policies such as those that end restrictions on using Kurdish language in private schools and during political campaigns.
A ceasefire between the PKK and Turkish authorities has been in place since March, but PKK's dissapointment with the Erdogan's reforms may challenge this temporary peace. “The package disappointed democratic forces, especially the Kurds ... It is clear that the package did not meet Kurdish demands,” a PKK statement published on the Firat News website said Thursday.
The PKK is expected to make a public statement October 15th regarding the ceasefire and proposed withdraw from Turkey after they have adequate time to consult PKK's jailed leader who negotiated the cease-fire, Abdullah Ocalan.