The murder of Kurdish activists on the streets of Paris is part of a much wider struggle for freedom

Our Diplomatic Correspondent, who has spent years following the Kurdish diaspora, examines the context of the grim, brutal killings in the French capital this week

Related Topics

The assassinations of three Kurdish activists in Paris have all the necessary ingredients for a murderous political whodunnit. The victims were women, one of them a founding member of the PKK; they were shot in a room with no sign of forced entry; the clear implication being that the killer was someone they trusted, someone who was also confident enough to carry out such an attack in a Western European city.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, claimed this morning that the deaths were almost certainly the result of an internal feud over talks being held by his government with the PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan. But the Kurdish organisation’s internal leader, Zubeyir Aydar, had little doubt it was the work of the ‘Deep State’, the shadowy network of military and officials in Turkey who are adamantly opposed to any concessions made to separatists. Other activists blamed Ankara’s intelligence service, MIT, for directly carrying out the hits.


But, far away from the bodybags brought out at the 10th Arrondissement, there are significant, convoluted and violent developments taking place in Kurdish affairs involving other countries as well as Turkey. One of the victims, Sakine Cansiz, who played a part in setting up the PKK in 1978, was close to Ocalan. She also opposed Ferman Hussein, a commander of the group’s armed wing, who has been particularly active in directing activities in Syria, which also has a Kurdish population.

As the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues in its vicious and chaotic way for the 22nd month, the PKK has become increasingly active. I and other journalists have come across their fighters more and more in rebel held areas in Aleppo and Idlib. They have not been involved in fighting, but are facilitating passage of arms from Iraqi Sunnis to the overwhelmingly Sunni Syrian opposition. The name of Ferman Hussein, a Syrian national, crops up more and more.

At the same time, however, there are signs of PKK collusion with the Assad regime. Kurdish fighters have moved into bases near the Turkish border from where the Syrian military has obligingly moved out.

Mr Erdogan has threatened to take “whatever action” is takes to counter this. “We will not let the terrorist groups set up camps in northern Syria and pose a threat to us”, he declared. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has raised the issue during his several visits to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq where the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is affiliated to the PKK.


The situation in Iraq is yet another factor in the changing Kurdish dynamic. While the Turks, the most vociferous of the regional critics of the Syrian regime, court the Kurds, the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki has been accused of allowing Iran, the main regional supporter of Assad, to send weapons to Damascus. At the same time Iraqi forces have moved into areas disputed with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) rich in oil deposits in the most overt flexing of muscle since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The investigation being carried out by the French anti-terrorist police may, or may not, find conclusive proof about who actually carried out the Paris murders. But the chances are that the strife accompanying the Kurdish reconfiguration in the Middle-East is highly likely to revisit Europe, with its’ large politicised Kurdish population, in the future.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Neo-Nazis march in London  

I'm taking my Jewish kids to a vile neo-Nazi rally in London this weekend – because I want them to learn about free speech

Richard Ferrer
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map