General avoids operations in anticipation of promotion
A senior general based in southeast Turkey has reportedly noted that he deliberately does not order any operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists in his region, as the risk of an error, such as the 2011 Uludere air strike, could stain his reputation and prevent him from earning a promotion at the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) on Aug. 1.
Sources did not name the general but noted that at a time when the PKK has become particularly active in Hakkari and the surrounding provinces, this general knowingly chooses not to order counterterrorism operations. Sources note that the general said he fears that should there be an incident similar to Uludere -- where 34 civilians were killed in an air strike -- it would mar his record and he would lose all chances of being promoted at the next YAŞ meeting, which decides on the promotions and dismissals of army personnel.
The same sources claimed that this same general ordered lower ranking officers in the region to stop anti-PKK operations until August.
The sources also claimed that a request made by the police department’s counterterrorism unit to stage a joint operation against the People’s Forces of Defense (HPG) -- a PKK military unit -- which, according to intelligence records, is preparing for large-scale deadly attacks in Hakkari’s Çukurca and Şemdinli districts was turned down by the general. Lower ranking generals in the region had also avoided cooperating with the police department against the PKK in line with orders from this general.
Intelligence reports suggest that Bahoz Erdal, a PKK commander of Syrian descent, has ordered his men to either die or succeed in their planned attacks in the rural areas of Hakkari. However, military units in the region have been dragging their feet in conducting counterterrorism operations against the PKK.
According to intelligence reports, PKK militants have been entering Turkey in groups of threes or fives, avoiding larger groups to minimize their losses. The PKK habitually forces Hakkari locals to close their stores, not to go to work and to contribute to its militants.