Young Kurds, outside the control of normal political or militant structures, are attacking government forces in southeast Turkey. The WSJ reports:
Since the government last week declared what it called a “decisive” campaign to end five months of limited violence between Kurds and government security forces, young Kurdish militants in the cities of Diyarbakir, Cizre, Silopi and Nusaybin have been targeted by Turkish tanks, helicopters, artillery and snipers, according to local residents and news reports from the region […]More than 40,000 people have died in fighting between the PKK and government forces since 1984, when the PKK took up arms.Most of the group’s attacks occurred in rural Turkey, but a new generation of militants—mostly local youth, some as young as 15—has brought the conflict into the heart of southeastern Turkey’s cities and towns, increasing the risk to civilians.
Pair this piece with one in the FT about the radicalization of young Kurds. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spent the better part of this year driving tensions between Turks and Kurds higher and higher in a bid to win elections and accrue to himself even more power. In doing so, he undid his own previous achievements in forging a measure of peace between the two groups. Erdogan is not the only cause of the phenomenon described in the FT; the story also points to developments elsewhere, like Syria, as contributing to the extremism. But Erdogan could have gone down in history as a man who helped heal one of Turkey’s most doleful divisions. Instead, he may be the man who helped radicalized another generation, led to more war, and drove the two sides further apart.