How Turkey suffers after October 7 attack


The Turkish army has been carrying out more successful military operations against the PKK, a group that has been recognized as a terrorist organization by numerous countries, inside and outside Turkey in recent years. The army’s task of fighting the terrorist organization has been made easier, in particular, by the indigenization of weapons. Armed drones deserve particular praise for their ability to paralyze the group over time and force it to leave Turkish territory. While there haven’t been noteworthy terror attacks in the nation in recent years, clashes are quite fierce on the other side of the border, both in Syria and Iraq, two failed states where the PKK has further nested.

It is easy to go after the PKK in Syria where it acts as YPG since the terrain is plain, not allowing militants to find a shelter to hide. But the topography of northern Iraq is so unfavorable to military operations that it is extremely difficult for land units of the Turkish army to deploy themselves there. Up until recently, Turkey conducted short-term in-out operations in Iraq. However, when the number of infiltrations into Turkish territory rose and the army’s capacity to launch proactive strikes and hot pursuits advanced, it chose to station troops 30 kilometers into Iraqi territory. Although this tactic did stop infiltrations, it led to an increase in clashes on the Iraqi side. As a result, deaths from PKK-related clashes persisted.

The last clash with the PKK which ended up with the killing of nine Turkish soldiers happened in Metina region of Northern Iraq on January 12. The attack was notable since it was the third one following those on December 22 and 23, which each claimed the lives of six troops. Thus, in a span of 20 days, the Turkish army lost 21 troops in the same location. Turkey is accustomed to suffering losses in its conflict with the PKK terrorist organization, as the latter has been constantly attacking security forces for the past forty years.

However, unlike previous terror attacks, as per Turkish officials, the last three ones in mountainous Northern Iraq were premeditated and done with the order of the US-Israeli axis. Almost everyone, from government officials to journalists, said that Turkey is being punished for its stance following the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Why do Turks, including me, think as such? First, I anticipated a covert but harsh reaction from the pro-Israeli axis when President Erdogan denounced Israeli assaults and said that “Hamas is a group fighting to defend its lands” in response to Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza. Then, came news on December 22 that six soldiers were killed by the PKK. While Turkish people were mourning their death, six more soldiers were killed one day later.

As for the last attack claiming the lives of nine soldiers, it completely wore out the patience of the Turks.  One reason is that the incident took place just a few days after 33 Mossad spies were apprehended in Turkey by the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT). Speaking about MIT’s successful operation, Erdogan remarked on how shocked Mossad was. Personally, I expected that Mossad would want to demonstrate its power in reaction to MIT’s operation.  Personally, I expected that Mossad would want to demonstrate its power in reaction to MIT’s operation. Erdogan complimented the Yemeni group’s resistance and stated that Yemenis had successfully retaliated to the US and UK strikes on the Houthis when he spoke about the strikes. Once more, I waited for a punitive response from pro-Israeli alliance. Just hours later, the latest terrorist attack was carried out by the PKK in Iraq on January 12.

Erdogan called a meeting of his security committee the following day to talk about the attack and possible reprisals in Istanbul. The post-meeting wording was remarkable; “The recent terrorist acts against our troops operating outside our borders are an insidious part of the scenarios to fatten the organization. Turkey will never allow the establishment of a “terroristan” along its southern borders under any pretext and for any reason.” As is evident, the Turkish government implies that attacks are being carried out by Israel and Western nations, especially the US.

The government’s military response was also in line with its implications. Besides conducting air strikes on PKK caves in Northern Iraq, Turkish army targeted dozens of places such as military facilities, oil fields, power stations, logistics depots and military outposts in Northeastern Syria, where PKK-affiliated SDF has established an autonomous entity with the help of the US.  We should note that Turkey assumes SDF as YPG, PKK’s Syrian offshoot. US officials also admit that they rebranded YPG as SDF.

It is clear that the Turkish government is sending a message to Washington in addition to punishing the PKK by attacking YPG sites. Ankara seems to be implying that it will not allow the Americans to create a PKK enclave on its territory. Considering that it also demolished a French cement factory owned by Lafarge, which was found guilty of supplying cement to ISIS in the past, the government appears to be challenging any nation that aids the PKK and its partner organizations.

One can think that the PKK has already been fighting Turkish army for decades, so Turkey acts according to a self-introduced conspiracy theory but Turkish military experts claim that facts in the (battle)field say otherwise. It is correct that Turkish troops are more vulnerable in mountainous region coupled with hard winter conditions. Particularly fog is a great obstacle to observe the area. Plus, drones cannot intercept militants from the sky due to fog. However, journalists close to the government staunchly claim that the PKK got intelligence from other countries to attack. There are allegations that soldiers’ location was detected from an air reconnaissance craft. Plus, terrorists used night vision glasses and encrypted radios during the attack. The PKK is known to not have such advanced tools.

Furthermore, Turkish officials have consistently stated that the US army trains PKK fighters in both Syria and Iraq. In addition to words, the Turkish army takes action to stop cooperation between the US army and the PKK. For instance, a helicopter transporting PKK terrorists from Syria to North Iraq was struck by Turkish planes. Additionally, a site at Sulaymaniyah Airport where militants were allegedly receiving drone training had been targeted by a Turkish drone.

Above arguments may not look reasonable to someone but this is what Turkish government and people think. Regardless of what others may think, certainly, Ankara’s regional policies will be shaped by its belief that Turkey is indirectly attacked by pro-Israeli axis via the PKK. Probably, the rift between Turkey -US and Turkey -Israel will widen in upcoming days.

As for the notion that “The more Turkish government sides with Palestine, the more Turkey might be hurt,” let’s wait and see if the harsh words, decisions, or actions of the Turkish government would cause Turkey to be shocked by a terrorist, diplomatic, or other punitive attack. This will allow us to figure out whether Turkey is really under attack for its pro-Palestine stance, or if the most recent events are only a misinterpretation.



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