Turkey's tourist resorts threatened with terrorist campaign: Turkey has been threatened with a new terrorist campaign targeting tourist resorts as the holiday season gets under way
Justin Vela in the Qandil Mountains, Iraqi Kurdistan
18 Jul 2010
The PKK strategy will target major Turkish cities, rather than just army patrols and bases in the Kurdish heartlands.
These are likely to include the metropolises of western Turkey, including those popular with tourists and businessmen, which have occasionally been hit by bombings in the last decade.
Murat Karayila, the top commander of the PKK, said he had been left with no choice but to act following Turkish bombing raids on PKK bases in Iraq.
He said the PKK would soon declare "democratic autonomy" in Kurdish regions of south-east Turkey. "If Turkey does not accept this, it is their problem," he said.
The war between the Turkish government and the PKK, which has lasted 26 years and claimed 40,000 lives, has already moved into a new phase after the collapse of a ceasefire.
The prime minister, Recip Erdogan, who was under attack for making too many concessions, has ordered bombing raids on PKK bases in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The most prominent of these is the remote stronghold in the Qandil Mountains, where The Daily Telegraph was escorted for the interview along back roads hidden from the army drones circling overhead.
Despite the raids and the weight of one of Nato's largest armies ranged against him, Mr Karayila said his forces could keep up the struggle for decades more.
"We are deeply rooted in the mountains and hearts of the people of Kurdistan," he said. "We are able to live another 50 years like this."
Mr Erdogan's strategy is to improve strategic ties with its neighbours to the east and squeeze out opposition from the Kurds, who form a significant minority in several countries.
He has built bridges with the leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, which has provided a haven for the PKK for years.
Business between Turkey and northern Iraq is now worth an estimated $7 billion.
In return, Ankara is now demanding the Kurdish regional government hand over Mr Karayila and 247 PKK commanders operating from their territory.
Tens of thousands of Kurds have been arrested under Turkey's harsh anti-terror laws, including 1,600 Kurdish politicians and 4,000 children.