According to a STRATFOR intelligence briefing that was passed on to me (presumably available only to subscribers), entitled "Why the PKK is baiting Turkey", the PKK's attacks on Turkish troops are intended to draw Turkey into an incursion into northern Iraq. The eventual aim is to revive the revanchist hopes of unifying the Kurdish people, now spread over Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, into one nation. But the Kurds of northern Iraq are not really interested, according to this report. They have tasted prosperity and comparative peace, and wish to enjoy the prospects of growing rich with the oil that they have in their own territory, preferably in a federal Iraq that allows the Kurds to sell their own oil to the international market. Hence the desperate attempts to provoke a Turkish attack into northern Iraq, "in hopes that the confrontation between Turkey and the PKK will become a confrontation between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds". The PKK expects that once this happens, the US will support the Kurds against the Turks.
The problem with this analysis is that it leaves out of account the fact that both the US and Israel have, for reasons of their own, been supporting the Kurds, initially against Saddam Hussein, and now against Iran, for some time. Not only do the US and Israel hope the oil resources of Mosul and Kirkuk will fall into the laps of their oil companies, but it will hopefully split up Iraq permanently, and give them a friendly power right at the border with Iran and the Sunni provinces of Iraq. Sen. Joe Biden has already proposed a bill to divide Iraq into three areas, according to the relative local majorities - partition and rule, in the grand colonial manner familiar to South Asians from their recent history. US and possibly Israeli special forces have been operating inside Iran alongside Kurds trained by them, planting spying devices to detect signs of nuclear activity, and also encouraging the Mujahedin-i-Khalq, an armed group of Iranian "terrorists" (in the US State Department definition) dedicated to the overthrow of the present Islamic regime in Iran.
Moreover, the PKK that’s attacking Turkish military units inside Turkey has little popular support among Turkish Kurds. The latter have benefited from the investment in the local economy and the greater cultural freedoms that the AKP government has been providing in the region over the last few years. They also have rather dire memories of the last disastrous confrontation with the Turkish army in the 1990’s. Former PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan too has reportedly lost interest in confronting the Turkish state. (No surprises there!)
For some reason that I don’t entirely understand, the possible role of Israel in promoting the recent surge of violence from the PKK is being ignored even by al Jazeera. It’s probably not a direct role, and may well be a spillover that the Israelis did not intend, but are not in a position to control. The Kurds in northern Iraq have received arms from the US and training and other kinds of support from Israeli special forces and academics and politicians because Israel is interested in cultivating the Kurds to gain a foothold within Iran. In fact, Israeli support for Kurdish revanchist aspirations was already the subject of a long investigative piece by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker on June 28, 2004. Some of this support has spilled over into groups operating under the name of PKK in Turkey and PJAK in Iran.
Turkish-Israeli “friendship” is now as fragile as Turkish-US friendship, primarily because the redrawing of the borders in the region to the advantage of Israel has long been an ambition of both the US and the Israelis. [See “The Clean Break” document and its analysis.] Ankara has opposed a break up of Iraq (along for instance the Biden proposal) right from the beginning, because they perceive it as a potential source of support for attempts to create Kurdistan at their expense. Israel on its part has not taken too kindly to Ankara wooing Basharul Asad, inviting Khaled Meshal of the Palestinian Hamas to visit Ankara from his sanctuary in Damascus to publicize the plight of the Palestinians, and the new alignment with Iran under the AKP against Kurdish attempts to revive attacks on both these countries.
The US is easily in a position to control the Kurds if they wanted to, either directly or through their puppet al Maliki in Baghdad. So why don’t they? It can't be out of sympathy with Kurdish national aspirations. After all, as the Kurds were reminded by Henry Kissinger, no less, when he refused to send arms to the Iraqi anti-Saddam resistance, "the US government is not an eleemosynary institution." Probably because they have their hands full just dealing with the failing or failed “surge”, and the renewed bisectarian unity that is forming among the Iraqis against US occupation. Besides, if the US foreign policy advisers had a clue, they would have figured out long ago the real cost of the support for the Armenian genocide resolution in the Senate, in terms of increased popular hostility against the idea of supporting the US through the base at Incirlik.
Today's Zaman, a Turkish news daily sympathetic to the ruling AKP, has reported that Erdogan will press Olmert to give up Israeli support for the Kurdish militants in Turkey. Let's see how far Olmert will comply. He will probably plead ignorance, or that the Israeli government have no control since those training and arming the Kurdish fighters are private military contractors. After all, instant and plausible deniability is why governments hire PMC's in the first place.