PKK attacks on Turkish Armed Forces’ base in Northern Iraq; First approval for Sweden’s NATO membership

PKK attacks on Turkish Armed Forces’ base in Northern Iraq; First approval for Sweden’s NATO membership

Last week in Türkiye, 12 soldiers were martyred as a result of attacks by the PKK terrorist organization. In response to the incident, there came statements from political parties as public outrage grew.

Another topic under discussion was the initial approval in the Parliament for Sweden’s NATO membership.

PKK attacks on Turkish Armed Forces base in Northern Iraq

On December 22-23 in the Hakurk region of Iraq, 12 soldiers were martyred and more than 10 soldiers were injured as a result of an attack by PKK terrorist organization on the Turkish Armed Forces base. Following the attack, the Ministry of National Defense announced that a significant number of PKK members were neutralized and the organization’s targets were destroyed with the ground and air operations. The term “neutralize” is frequently used by the Turkish military and officials to denote that the terrorists in question have either surrendered, been killed or captured during operations.

In addition to Iraq, the ministry disclosed that at least 26 terrorists were neutralized in air strikes specifically in the area of Operation Claw-Lock in northern Syria.

The statement of the ministry emphasized that the operations against PKK/KCK targets in Iraq and Syria were conducted within the framework of the legitimate right of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In the meanwhile, demonstrations against the PKK took place across the country following the news of the martyrs.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his statement on the matter, expressed that Türkiye will not deviate from its strategy of drying up terrorism at its source and will not allow a terrorist structure in the north of Iraq and Syria. Erdoğan highlighted that the PKK terrorist organization is “proxy for imperialist”.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Good Party, and Felicity party jointly condemned the terrorist attack with a joint statement in the Parliament. However, the Republican People’s Party CHP and Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM) affiliated with the PKK terrorist organization did not sign the joint statement.

CHP called for a closed session in Parliament and requested Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar to inform the Parliament. CHP leader Özgür Özel expressed that they would not sign any joint statement with the AKP until this information is provided.

AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik described CHP’s refusal to sign the anti-terrorism joint statement as “shameful.” Çelik said that this attitude of the CHP leadership is the continuation of the party’s refusal to sign other essential resolutions concerning Türkiye’s “national security”.

Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli spoke on the issue during his party’s group meeting on Dec. 26.

Bahçeli demanded that “the salaries of 57 DEM deputies and the Treasury aid to be paid to the terrorist nest should be immediately cut and transferred to the fight against terrorism and the families of martyrs”. He said “We do not want terrorists in the parliament”. Then he told his other suggestions:

“My second suggestion is that the pending immunity files of the so-called deputies who aided and abetted terrorism and whose crimes are proven by concrete evidence should be finalized, and these vermin should be brought to court immediately. My third suggestion is to radically restructure the Constitutional Court’s status, membership structure and judicial procedures in the new constitutional process, or to dissolve this court.”

The Constitutional Court is a topic of debate for a few years. The Constitutional Court is being harshly criticized for not closing down PKK affiliated DEM (and with its former name, HDP). The closure case is pending at the Constitutional Court since June 2021.

The leader of the Vatan Party, Doğu Perinçek, also made a statement regarding the martyrs and PKK attacks. Perinçek said:

“I wish Allah’s mercy to our martyred in northern Iraq as a result of the attack of the PKK terrorist organization, which the US calls its own ground force, and I wish condolences to their families, the Turkish Armed Forces and our nation. Our promise to our martyrs: We will bring the Homeland War to victory. The duty of all of us: Total struggle against the PKK by the state and the nation!”

It is noteworthy that the PKK’s terrorist attack occurred after a security meeting between Turkish and Iraqi authorities.

First approval for Sweden’s NATO membership

Last week, the other topic that shaped the agenda in Türkiye was the approval of Sweden’s NATO membership by the Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Committee convened on December 26, chaired by AKP Ankara Deputy Fuat Oktay, to discuss Sweden’s NATO membership. Oktay expressed satisfaction with the steps and commitments taken by Swedish authorities so far. He stated, “The recent positive actions include blocking the financial resources and halting the activities of a terrorist-supporting organization called Kurdish Red Crescent. It appears that the contacts of the prosecutor appointed by Sweden’s authorities for cooperation with our authorities in Ankara were also positive and beneficial.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akçapar provided information on the proposal and the process concerning Sweden’s NATO membership. Akçapar stated significant progress in the steps Sweden needed to take and these improvements are believed to continue after NATO membership. “The Swedish government and public not only better understood our country’s legitimate security concerns but also began to realize the threat posed by terrorist organizations, the PKK in particular, to Sweden,” added Akçapar.

For Sweden to become a NATO member, approval from the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) General Assembly is mandatory. However, the schedule for the discussions has not been determined yet.

The developments on Sweden’s membership to NATO, which is known for its support to the PKK terrorist organization in Türkiye, caused reactions in the Turkish society.

The approval of Sweden’s NATO membership, known for its support for the PKK terrorist organization, stirred reactions in public.

The most severe statement on the matter came from Vatan Party leader Doğu Perinçek. Perinçek called on the parliament and deputies:

“The fact that the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly voted in favor of Sweden’s admission to NATO and referred it to the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly is a crime against the future of Türkiye. NATO is the organization that supports the PKK and arms the coast of Greece against Türkiye. NATO is the organization that staged coups in Türkiye in 1971, 1980 and 15 July 2016. Saying yes to NATO is a betrayal of Türkiye. We especially appeal to the Turkish Grand National Assembly: They should definitely reject the decision of the Foreign Affairs Commission. Deputies of the Turkish Grand National Assembly cannot be NATO’s deputies. They have the responsibility to be deputies of Türkiye. They should vote against Sweden’s membership in NATO.”

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June 2024