The Turks lump together as terrorists both the Islamic State and the paramilitary wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is fighting ISIS. “Kurds in Iraq and Syria are among the most formidable opponents of the extremist group.” And the US agrees. Americans, after all, hate separatists. It reminds them of their lost right of secession, removed by force by Abe Lincoln. Born of a loose confederation of independent states, Americans now favor a strong, overweening central state, and they want to see the same in the tribal lands of the Middle East.
Turkey’s military has been ramping up attacks on Kurdish separatists since last month. The government decided to join the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State while simultaneously launching assaults on the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Turkey.