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Ankara and Moscow Understand Alike the Problem of Terrorism

19.06.2012 15:18

Leonid Kruglov

In southeast Turkey as a result of armed clashes with militants of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (KWP) on June 19, at least seven Turkish soldiers were killed, and fifteen injured.

According to available information, the Turkish soldiers were ambushed by Kurds near the town of Yuksekova in Hakkari province near the border with Turkey, Iran and Iraq. KWP militants, who, according to the Turkish militaries, came from the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan (where their main bases are located), attacked the government forces militaries from three different positions.

Recall that earlier, on June 16, the Kurdish militants fired at the building of the police station in eastern Turkey, in the province of Tunceli, and in October last year, the armed wing of the KWP made a series of attacks on the position of the Turkish army in the province of Hakkari - then 26 Turkish soldiers were killed.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu then confidently said that Ankara will continue to use all its legal rights to repulse Kurdish extremists and will cooperate in this matter with international organizations, since ?the KWP threatens the security of other states.?

Clashes with militants in eastern Turkey take place almost every day. The 30 thousandth army contingent located in the area bordering Iraq regularly cleans up the grounds from terrorist elements.

The Kurdish issue is one of the very important and tough problems for the Turkish government. Almost a quarter of the population of Turkey are Kurds living in community in the east of the country. For several decades there has been sluggish war on between government forces and separatist of the KWP.

The militants are fighting for political rights of local Kurds, the formation of national autonomy in the Turkish Republic, and even the secession. Since the mid-1980s, the KWP already had a guerrilla army of many thousands (became known as the People's Liberation Army of Kurdistan) and a branched political structures combined in a structure of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan.

It is worth noting that the European Union in 2002 put the KWP in the list of terrorist organizations, but on April 3, 2008 the European Court overturned the decision declaring it illegal and contrary to EU law.

In the issue of combating terrorism, Turkey can be rightly considered to be one of the most experienced players in the region. The constant struggle against Kurdish armed groups for more than 30 years caused about 45,000 deaths, including many civilians.

Despite some controversy between Russia and Turkey in the international arena, there are a number of objective factors making for close cooperation between the two countries just in counter-terrorism.

Thus, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, within the framework of his working visit to the Russian Federatin in 2011, spoke for the establishment of cooperation in the fight against terrorism: ?Both countries now face the threat of terrorism. We condemn the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Russia. Turkey has also appeared at gunpoint of terrorists who do not care whom to kill: civilians, militaries, children, women or elderly persons. Terrorism is now trying to dictate its policy through intimidation, harming the country, undermining its economy, creating an atmosphere of fear in this country.?

Against the background of the two countries antiterrorist rapprochement, their cooperation was spoiled just as a fly spoils the ointment. In 2011, the Turkish intelligence service reported that a significant part of the KWP arms has Russian brand ? it was reported to Turkish colleagues by the U.S. intelligence services. Because you know they can?t see such warm relations between Ankara and Moscow.

It cannot be ruled out that during the Soviet era the Kurdish rebels were really given weapons of Soviet manufacture, and they are still at work. But times change. The modern Russia knows firsthand about terrorism, and separatism; it still has to face the cruel incursions of militants on its territory. In such a situation, of course, it is not probable that Moscow could supply Russian weapons to Kurdish rebel detachments. True, the possibility of falling into other, non-Russian hands, must not be ruled out. The Kalashnikov gun alone is manufactured in more than 50 countries. But Russia has nothing to do with it.