The Kurdistan Workers Party is an organization that is considered as a terrorist group by both UN and USA. The party began in 1974 under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan. Initially, it was referred to as a Marxist Leninist organization. Four years later, the party changed to Kurdistan Workers Party. The party waged war between 1978 and1980. It later restructured itself and participated in Turkish coup detat between 1980 and 1984. This culminated in armed violence where the party shifted its activities to urban terrorism between 1993 and 1999. The organization has been changing their names as a survival tactics (Nachmani, 2003). For example, the group has a series a series of names such as Kurdistan Workers Party (KWP), PKK, KADEK, KGK (KONGRA-GEL) and, HPG (People's Forces of Defense). Thus, the transformation of their operations and identities has played a great role maintaining the group.
The history of PKK is dated back in 1974 where the group was made of students led by Abdulla Ocalan in the region of Ankara. It later shifted its focus and targeted the large Kurdish population. The group participated in the conflict of the right wing which was part of political chaos in Turkey. An intense urban warfare emerged in 1979 as they tried to assassinate Kurdish tribal leader Mehmet Celal. Turkish coup detat had a significant effect on the party where most of them were killed, taken to jail or subjected to capital punishment (Marcus, 2007). The organization transformed itself into a paramilitary group in 1984. It trained its members in France. This made it possible to launch various attacks and bombings against the military, government installation as well as vital institutions. It later decentralized its operations taking different forms in Europe and Middle Eastern countries such as Germany and France (Zurcher, 1994). The main targets of PKK are the civilians and the military.
1990’s marked another change in its operation tactics. The change was fostered by the Syria and Turkey as they abandoned their support for the organization. They changed their tactics in attacks as they engaged in suicide bombing (Nachmani, 2003). About 15 of such attacks were successfully carried out where majority of them were done by female. This was a sign that the organization had lost the upper hand in its operations.
The organization faced another blow as Turkey government decided to extend its controls and dismantle the group completely. On the other hand, United States freeze all its assets in most countries. This has made the organization to go through a series of changes due to lack of enough support. Following the capture of Ocalan in 2003, operations of the group have shifted their base (Marcus, 2007). Currently, most of their operations are based in the Iraq Mountains. Despite the intense efforts by United States and Turkey to combat thee group, it still remains intact (Barnhart, 2002). The organization is blacklisted in many countries and declared as a terrorist group.
Description of the group
The group was initially formed by 16 members under the leadership of Ocalan. It was a secret organization originally based in Ankara. However, the group grew and extended its operations to most of European countries. Ocalan initial aim was to influence tribal systems in the region to join the group (Barnhart, 2002). This triggered conflict between tribal groups that had co-existed peacefully before. As a result, the growth of the organization was stimulated. The group became violent engaging itself in violent activities something that made it to participate in Turkish political internal conflicts (Hussein. 2007). Thus, the initial aim of its pioneer was to carry out criminal activities. Thus, the group can be described as a terrorist group. They have been associated with several terrorist activities such as bombings, violent attacks, suicide bombings among others.
Turkey decided to terminate the operations of PKK. They have entered into foreign relations with other countries waging a major campaign to seek international support and dislodge the organization. The group had gone international and is currently recognized by European Union as a major terrorist group (Nachmani, 2003). The operations of the group target any country in the world. The organization has been changing their names as a survival tactics. Moreover, this has enabled them to avoid being listed as a legal organization. For example, the group changed its name from PKK to KADEK (Anthony, 1999). This move forced several nations to keep updated on their status as they lacked specific identity.
Group’s major sources of both financial and non-financial support
PKK have gone through changes in their financial structure. This has shifted from the state support by Syrian government among other states that also intended to make Turkey governmental operations weak (Hussein. 2007). Notably, most of the party’s financial support originates from Kurdish Diaspora especially in Europe. Most of their finances are derived from drug trafficking. For instance, in 2007, PKK has the control of about 40 percent of the overall amount of heroin that entered Europe from the East. Some countries such as Russia refused to declare PKK as a terrorist group. Moreover, some European countries such as Germany and France allowed the group to train in their country hence giving them non financial support.
How the group uses media
Media portrays Kurdistan Workers Party as a terrorist group. Previously, Kurdish was popularly used in broadcasting and publishing. As a way of wiping the operations of the group, Turkish government banned the use of Kurdish language in broadcasting and publishing. Initially, the group used media to execute their attacks. On the other hand, media keeps nations all over the world updated on the changes especially change of names to conceal their identity.