U.S. Ally, the Kurds, a Marxist-Leninist Group Designated a ‘Terrorist Organization’ in 1997

By Michael W. Chapman | October 23, 2019 | 5:37pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) --  Although many liberal news outlets and some politicians have described President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria as a “betrayal” of the Kurds, our allies in fighting against ISIS in the region, it is important to note that the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, is a “Marxist-Leninist separatist organization” that was designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. State Department in October 1997.

Also, on March 1, 2019, the State Department issued a release to “notify the U.S. public and the international community that the PKK remains a terrorist organization” and “has also been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 since 2001.”

That executive order was issued by President George W. Bush following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is designed to block property and financial transactions of people who commit or support terrorism.

“Since designating the PKK over two decades ago, the United States has worked with Turkey and other Allies to counter the terrorist threat from the PKK,” said the State Department.  “The United States maintains a strong commitment to our partnership with our NATO ally Turkey, including fighting PKK fundraising operations in Europe and elsewhere.”

“Designations of terrorist individuals and groups expose and isolate them, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system,” said the State Department in its announcement on the PKK. “Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement actions of other U.S. agencies and governments.” 

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, President Trump reasserted his view that U.S. troops need to leave Syria and stated that Turkey had agreed to stop fighting Kurdish forces in the region. "We're getting out," Trump said. "Let someone else fight over this long, blood-stained sand.”

That region has been blood-stained by the actions of Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, as well as the Islamic State over many years. The Kurds have contributed to that bloodshed.

As the BBC reported on Oct. 15, “In 1978, Abdullah Ocalan established the PKK, which called for an independent state within Turkey. Six years later, the group began an armed struggle. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.”

According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, the PKK committed 122 terrorist attacks in 2018 alone. In those attacks, 136 people were killed.

The consortium’s database, as reported by The New York Times, “catalogs 2,455 attacks by the PKK since its formation in 1978.”

In addition, the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 (released in September 2018) states the following about the PKK:

In Germany, 2017:  “Law enforcement targeted a range of terrorist groups including violent Islamist extremists (approximately 90 percent of cases, and the greatest threat according to German officials), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Turkish Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), and domestic left wing and right wing actors.”

In Turkey, 2017: “Turkey continued its intensive efforts to defeat terrorist organizations both inside and outside its borders, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS, respectively.

“The PKK continued to conduct terrorist attacks in Turkey. Turkey’s security forces conducted operations domestically along with airstrikes against PKK leadership positions in northern Iraq. The Ministry of National Defense claimed that, as of April, the government had killed, wounded, or captured more than 11,300 PKK terrorists since July 2015, when a two-year ceasefire between the government and the PKK ended.

“Turkish authorities reported more than 1,000 government security personnel have died in clashes with the PKK since the end of the ceasefire. Detentions and arrests of individuals suspected of aiding the PKK increased in 2017.

“According to interior ministry data, law enforcement forces detained more than 15,000 suspects for allegedly aiding and abetting the PKK during the January 2 to October 30 [2017] timeframe. The PKK also targeted Turkish elements operating in northern Iraq. Turkish authorities in October announced that PKK elements in northern Iraq had kidnapped two Turkish National Intelligence Organization officers.

“As a counterterrorism partner of the United States, Turkey continued to receive U.S. assistance to address the terrorist threat posed by the PKK in 2017.

“On February 17, a PKK vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack near a housing complex for judges in Sanliurfa province [in Turkey] killed two people and wounded 17 others.

“On July 8, a PKK attack against a construction convoy in Hakkari province [in Turkey] killed four people and wounded two others.”

For background on the PKK, the State Department further said,

“In 2009, the Turkish government and the PKK resumed peace negotiations, but talks broke down after the PKK carried out an attack in July 2011 that left 13 Turkish soldiers dead.

“In 2012, the PKK claimed responsibility for multiple car bombings resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people.

“Between January and mid-July 2015, the PKK carried out small-scale armed attacks against Turkey’s security forces and military bases.

“In August 2016, the group claimed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device strike against Sirnak police headquarters, which killed 11 people and wounded more than 70 others.

“In January 2017, Turkish officials blamed the PKK for a car bomb and shooting outside of a courthouse that killed two people.

“In June, the PKK attacked a military convoy in southeastern Turkey, using mortar and machine gun fire to kill over 20 soldiers.

“Since 2015, the group has been responsible for the deaths of over 1,200 Turkish security officials and civilians.

“The PKK consists of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 members, 3,000 to 3,500 of which are located in northern Iraq,” said the State Department.  “The PKK receives financial support from the large Kurdish diaspora in Europe and from criminal activity.”

Some of that criminal activity reportedly includes drug trafficking.   

In March 2016, the PKK announced its support for overthrowing the Turkish government headed by Recep Erdogan, through the Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement, an alliance of Marxist-Leninist groups in Turkey.  


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