The Kurdish insurrection

Robert Worth in the New York Times, ‘. . . Turkish tanks are now blasting the ancient cities of the Kurdish southeast, where young P.K.K.-supported rebels have built barricades and declared “liberated zones.” More than a thousand people have been killed and as many as 350,000 displaced, according to figures from the International Crisis Group. The fighting, which intensified last fall, has spread to Ankara, the Turkish capital, where two suicide bombings by Kurdish militants in February and March killed 66 people . . . The conflict has revived and in some ways exceeded the worst days of the P.K.K.’s war with the Turkish state in the 1990s. The fighting then was brutal, but it was mostly confined to remote mountains and villages. Now it is devastating cities as well and threatening to cripple an economy already burdened by ISIS bombings and waves of refugees from Syria. In Diyarbakir, the capital of a largely Kurdish province, artillery and bombs have destroyed much of the historic district, which contains Unesco world heritage sites. Churches, mosques and khans that have stood for centuries lie in ruins. Tourism has collapsed. Images of shattered houses and dead children are stirring outrage in other countries where Kurds live: Iraq, Syria and Iran.

. . . The rebels I spoke to claimed to be the voice of a colonized and dispossessed people. But after nine months of war, many middle-class Turkish Kurds say the P.K.K.’s decision to take on the state was madness. In Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district, the fighting has destroyed a shopping and small-business hub that was the heart of the city’s economy. Thousands of jobs have been lost, and investors who flocked to the city during the cease-fire — when new hotels were being built — have fled. Even in Cizre and other bastions of P.K.K. support, many people quietly admit that they blame the insurgents.’ click here.