Last month, there was a blast in Istanbul which killed 6 people in Taksim square and wounded dozens of others. Turkey said an ethnically Kurdish Syrian woman was responsible. Since then, it has increased its long-standing campaigns against Kurdish separatist groups which want to establish an independent Kurdish state in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
For this reason, the ethnic group has been in tension and conflict with all of those countries with Turkey being the most serious because of its high concentration of Kurds and the country’s nationalist background. In recent developments, Turkey has escalated its activities against groups in Syria it holds responsible for terrorist acts with many analysts expecting an invasion.
According to Al Jazeera, “Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara is after the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its offshoots the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) groups to protect its borders.. . . The PKK has been waging a decades-long bloody armed rebellion for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast. Ankara, along with its NATO allies – the US and European Union – have declared the PKK a “’terrorist’ organisation.” In that sense, Turkey justifies its actions by claiming security needs
While many consider the invasion to be a negative prospect because of the role Kurdish forces have played in fighting against ISIL, Turkey justifies its actions by pointing to how the United States and its allies designate it as a terrorist organization. In Turkey’s view, fighting the PKK is like fighting ISIL since both are terrorist groups.
According to Middle East Eye, “The US has tried to prevent escalations between the two during previous flareups, but analysts and former US officials are less optimistic about Washington’s mediation efforts this time. “The larger issue is that the US has bigger fish to fry in Europe,” Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former Syria director on the White House National Security Council, told Middle East Eye. “The US needs Turkish buy-in on other issues, so the response to this potential incursion has been pretty muted.”
In that sense, analysts say that Turkey is taking advantage of the focus the world has placed on Russia and Ukraine to pursue its objectives of suppressing Kurdish nationalism. It should be noted that Kurdish armed groups deny involvement in the Istanbul attack. For more immediate context, Kurdish groups have fought against both the forces of Assad and Turkey and its allies recently losing territory to both. Furthermore, the United States has at the very least not penalized Turkey for acting against Kurdish armed groups in the past which may make Turkey think it will be able to take further action against the groups.