With Attacks in Turkey, PKK Sends a Message to Erdogan—and to Trump

With Attacks in Turkey, PKK Sends a Message to Erdogan—and to Trump
Security officials at the scene of a car bombing in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, Turkey, Dec. 17, 2016. (IHA via AP).

Last week, Turkey was hit by yet another terrorist attack, a car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 55 others in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. Although quickly overshadowed days later by the assassination in Ankara of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, the bombing came just a week after a twin suicide bombing killed 44 policemen and wounded another 150 outside the Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul.

While no immediate claim of responsibility has been issued for the Kayseri bombing, solid evidence points to the same perpetrators as the earlier Dec. 10 attack: the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a well-known offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The quick succession of attacks was a grim reminder that after 20 months of renewed fighting in eastern Turkey between the PKK and the Turkish military, the PKK is far from broken. In fact, it appears that the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has made a bad situation in Turkey even worse for the PKK and left it with no other option than to step up attacks on the Turkish state.

TAK rose to prominence in 2005 with terrorist attacks on Turkish coastal resorts that were designed to hurt the tourism sector. While some security analysts believe that TAK has split from the PKK, most authorities on the group, such as Vera Eccarius-Kelly, Aliza Marcus or Metin Gurcan, still identify it as loosely affiliated with the PKK. It has been argued that the PKK draws on TAK for attacks on soft targets that would either damage the former’s reputation or exert pressure on the Turkish state during peace negotiations. While it is believed to be financed and logistically supported by the PKK, TAK appears to be independent in selecting targets and timing attacks. The narrative of a PKK-TAK split carries the benefit of plausible deniability of the TAK’s actions for the PKK.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review