When the Terror War Ignites the Black Sea Region

Armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members. AP file photo.
Armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members. AP file photo.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region– Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) recent attacks on army installations around the Black Sea areas, north of Turkey, are marking a new trend in the group’s urban warfare.

PKK’s attack on the convoy of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu on August 25 in the area, sent shock-waves in Turkey as many interpreted the drive by shooting as a new form of guerrilla actions in new territories far away from the Kurdish southeast.

The PKK quickly “regretted” the attack and said that Kiliçdaroglu was not the aim of the operation, but the military convoy escorting him was.

At least three bloody attacks, including the August 19 bombing in Trabzon, have been carried out by a group that is presumably supported by the PKK, called the United Peoples Revolutionary Movement (HBDH). The new umbrella group, which includes 9 other leftist factions, was formally declared last March.

“The PKK’s influence in this area is limited to small actions since Turkish national sentiments are considerably higher here and prevent the PKK to have grassroots support,” says Ali Kucuk Dursin, a former member of the PKK with knowledge about Karadeniz area near the Black Sea.

Kucuk Dursin says the PKK has long tried to “exhaust” the army by spreading the war to other areas in the country.

“This was a strategy clearly followed in the mid-1990s but with various degrees of success in different regions,” he explained.

Karadeniz region is a relatively vast area that encompasses dozens of small and larger cities including Samson and Trabzon.

“The PKK is unlikely to find a base in this area but its ties to the HBDH can change the state of affairs rather swiftly,” said local journalist Ercan Kantemir. “No one becomes a PKK here, but many are already with the new group.”

“To counter the PKK, the government has hired over 750 local village guards which basically patrol the area against PKK attackers,” Kantemir explained.

According to Kucuk Dursin the groups affiliated with the HBDH are “too small” and “too disorganized” for any major clashes.

“But the fact that the government has hired so many village guards shows the PKK has made some impressions,” Dursin said.