The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party announced late Tuesday that it had ended its unilateral ceasefire declared in the wake of twin earthquakes in February. The move signals a hardening of the militants’ stand, with potential repercussions for the Kurdish political movement inside Turkey and the presence of US troops in Syria.
The group, better known by its initials PKK, cited Turkey’s escalating attacks against its militants in Syria and in Iraq and the continued isolation of its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, as the main reasons for scotching the truce.
In truth, the PKK had been banking on an opposition win in the watershed parliamentary and presidential elections. Though presented as a humane gesture, the truce was aimed in part to ease the electoral alliance between a bloc of six opposition parties led by Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who was defeated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan, in turn, used the PKK’s calls for the Kurdish people to support his rival as proof that Kilicdaroglu was in bed with “terrorists.”
The PKK was hoping that an opposition victory would eventually lead to resumption of direct peace talks with the Turkish state. Talks were initiated by Erdogan in 2009 but collapsed in 2015 over the refusal, among other things, of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) to support the current executive presidential system that grants Erdogan full power.