Turks Hope For Lasting Cease-Fire With Kurds The summer has been marked by violent attacks and reprisals between Kurdish separatist rebels and security forces. But a Ramadan cease-fire has some Turks hoping that the two sides can return the long-running conflict to a nonviolent path.
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Turks Hope For Lasting Cease-Fire With Kurds

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Turks Hope For Lasting Cease-Fire With Kurds

Turks Hope For Lasting Cease-Fire With Kurds

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

It was also an eventful summer in Turkey. The country's security forces and Kurdish rebels, known as the PKK, clashed repeatedly, ending a period of calm. In a fight that has dragged on for many years, Turks are not sure which direction the conflict is likely to take next. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul.

PETER KENYON: Unidentified Man: Last month, the conflict spilled out of the southeast when a group calling itself the Kurdish Freedom Hawks killed six people in a bomb attack in Istanbul on a bus carrying military personnel and their families.

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KENYON: The Turkish military, which has lost nearly 50 soldiers in the past two months, has stepped up airstrikes on northern Iraq, where Kurdish fighters have some bases. In mid-June...

KENYON: Similar concerns may be prompting Turkish officials and Kurdish political leaders to consider ways to recapture last year's positive momentum. A ceasefire for the Holy Month of Ramadan has Professor Emrullah Uslu at Istanbul's Yeditepe University hopeful that cooler heads can find a way to at least keep the truce going past the mid-September end of Ramadan.

EMRULLAH USLU: At least, for a moment, it means a delay for killing people. If it could save, you know, one or two young boys during this ceasefire, it is a win.

KENYON: The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.N., the United States and European Union.

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KENYON: Analyst Gareth Jenkins says the current ceasefire comes at a propitious moment for the government, which is focused on winning approval for a package of constitutional reforms in a September 12th referendum. But he believes a return to negotiations with the Kurds, especially the rebel PKK movement, will be problematic for the ruling AK Party in the coming election season.

GARETH JENKINS: Certainly, nothing's going to happen before the referendum. I think certainly nothing's going to happen before the next election, either, because the AKP, it has more to lose electorally by entering negotiations with the PKK than it has to gain.

KENYON: Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul.

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WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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