The Congra – Gel (shortened as KGK) is a Kurdish separatist group that is mainly based in Southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The group is mainly active in some parts of the Eastern European region and the middle east region including parts of Syria and Iran. Congra-Gel identifies with many other names including PKK (Kurdish), Kurdistan People’s Congress, KHK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party or KADEK to mean Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress. The organization was formed in 1974 by Kurdish students under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan whose primary aim was to establish a Marxist-Leninist separatist group. Most of its members were Turkish Kurds. It was not until four years that the organization was named Kurdistan Workers’ Party. KHK commenced armed violence operations in 1984 that have claimed lives of over 40,000 people including the Turkey military, KGK members and even civilians (Turkish and Kurdish). During the ‘90s, KGK was also primarily involved in urban terrorism activities aside from their rural-based active revolts ("Kongra-Gel (KGK) / Kurdistan People’s Congress / PKK | Terrorist Groups | TRAC", 2017).
Abdullah Ocalan is regarded as the undisputed leader and figurehead of KGK despite serving life imprisonment. Ocalan was seized in 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya after the CIA collaborated with the Turkish National Intelligence Agency to arrest him. He was then sentenced to death as is outlined by the Turkish penal code in regards to forming armed organizations. Ocalan was lucky to escape death when Turkey abolished the death penalty so as to gain membership in the European Union. However, he was sentenced to solitary confinement as from 1999 to 2009 on a prison island known as Imrali. The authorities persuaded him to order for ceasefire publicly after his arrest which led him to steer a “peace initiative” that would focus on dialogue on contentious issues. The action resulted in a congress by the PKK in early 2002 in which the group decided to use political approaches to attain their primary objective of elevating the rights of Kurds living in Turkey. The resolution saw the group change its name from PKK to KADEK to mean Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress. The organization later changed its name to Kongra-Gel (KGK) in 2003 to enhance their political endeavors. Unfortunately, by early 2004 some members formed another faction that was against political reforms and returned to violence.
KGK did not fall with Ocalan. The organization still has several leaders even in other countries including Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraq, and West European countries where they operate. The group was led by Murat Karayilan until 2015 when a new leader (Cemil Bayik) was elected. Bayik among other three core leaders and a Syrian Kurd (Fehman Huseyin) in charge of military operations run the group.
KGK mainly targets the local Turkish officials and the security forces of the Turkish government. The villagers who are opposed to the group in Turkey are also a target. The animosity and conflict between the Turkish security forces and PKK militants has resulted in many deaths. Early attacks by the group were perpetrated in 1993 and 1995 when they attacked Turkish commercial and diplomatic facilities based in cities in Western Europe. Between 1990 to 1995, KGK kidnapped foreign tourists and bombed hotels, resorts, and tourist destinations in a bid to destroy Turkey’s tourism industry. The organization is also said to have orchestrated multiple bombings in Western Turkey especially in Istanbul and the western coast region as from 2004. The group is also reported to be involved in drug trafficking ("Chapter 6 -- Terrorist Organizations", 2007).
KGK’s major strength is that they have a militia of around 5,000 soldiers most of whom (over 3,000) are currently based in northern Iraq. Moreover, they get support from sympathizers in Europe and Turkey. Dutch police officers recently raided a training camp that was believed to be KGK’s in The Netherlands, whereby thirty suspected members were arrested.
KGK receives adequate aid from external nations such as Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Iran and Syria seem to liaise with Turkey to work against the group only when they can benefit. When exercising political propaganda or fundraising, the organization uses Europe (Pike, 2004).
The group is mainly secular meaning it has no religious connections as it traces its roots to leftist groups of the 1970s, particularly Dev-Genc. At first, the organization identified itself with the global communist revolution. They have so far evolved ad changed their objectives to achieve Democratic confederalism and national autonomy through society building. PKK worked with other ethnic groups such as ethnic Turks supporters of the radical left in the 1980s. Initially, the group focused on forming fully autonomous Kurdistan in Kurdish locations in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Other than secularism and Democratic confederalism, other ideologies of the group include;
The news article is a three-part analysis done by independent analyst Sarah Abed for MintPress News. Abed begins by exposing the contemporary Kurdish/Israeli collaboration that both sides have tried to hide to evade attention from the public which would ruin their ultimate plan. Abed also sheds light on how the United States uses Kurdish Factions including the KGK to destabilize the Middle East. She points out that the Kurds have partly participated in such relationships due to internal divisions that have led to disunity. The conflict has made it harder for KGK among other Kurds to achieve their main objective which is to form a fully independent Kurdistan in the areas they occupy even after all these decades (Abed, 2017).
The article also evaluates the attempts the Syrian government to keep Syria united by changing the constitution for the benefit of the Kurds. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been bought by the separatist Kurds who have not seized from illegally expropriating parts of Syria while claiming thousands of lives. Abed points out that drug smuggling is the primary source of funding for KGK terrorism as per the organization International Strategic Research.
Part 2 of the analysis evaluates the topic of discussion in greater lengths while hoping to raise awareness of this critical Syrian puzzle. She examines how Kurds are linked to apartheid Israel and reasons why Israel has a peculiar interest in the organization. She also highlights the bizarre circumstance of western military veterans flying into Syria to help Kurds fight. The Kurdish relationship with ISIS is also described since some Kurds have opted to fight for them just to achieve their intended goal of an independent Kurdistan.
Part three analyzes the Kurds role in assisting both Israel the United States to sabotage the Middle East. Abed mainly focuses on the past and present human rights violations by the PKK among other Kurds against Christian and Arab minorities. Finally, she outlines the misconceptions surrounding why the Kurds are still stateless (Abed, 2017).
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