The PKK terrorist organization is run by a band of chieftains in the northern Iraqi mountains of Qandil. Qandil is a range of mountains 40 kilometers wide and 320 kilometers long with incredibly rough terrain situated in the northeast of Iraq, bordering Turkey and Iran. Its location is perfect for the PKK's leaders because they can easily avoid detection and Turkish air raids by frequently changing locations.
The PKK moved out of Turkey and Syria during the chaotic days of the first Gulf War and firmly entrenched itself in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq. They have been there ever since.
Under heavy pressure from Ankara, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria where he was under the protection of the Hafez Assad regime and was eventually captured in a security operation in Kenya and imprisoned for life in Turkey. Thus the PKK's leadership in Qandil emerged as the team to run the terrorist organization in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
The PKK's leadership made the fatal mistake of trying to take on the Turkish state between 2014 and 2015, instigating a mini uprising in the southeastern cities and townships with the cooperation of the People's Democractic Party (HDP) and failed badly. They were defeated on all fronts and they drew the anger of the Kurdish masses in southeastern Turkey as well. Independent observers and analysts regarded this as a colossal mistake on the part of the PKK leadership which created turmoil inside the terrorist outfit.
The Kurds in Turkey, especially in southeastern Turkey, were untouched when the PKK was involved in terrorist attacks against Turkish security forces in hit and run raids or bombings. Yet, when the PKK brought the violence to their doorsteps and thus ruined townships and districts in cities, the people turned against the terrorists.
Since then, Turkish security forces have been dealing heavy blows to the PKK inside Turkey. The introduction of homemade arms and surveillance systems has also enhanced Turkey's capabilities to deal with the terrorists. The PKK has been brought down to size inside Turkey thanks to year-long uninterrupted security operations.
But that is not enough. The PKK received logistical support from Syria and Qandil. Afrin in southwestern Syria was a terrorist stronghold that was used against Turkey by the PKK. By entering Afrin, Turkey eliminated one of the heads of the snake.
The same is valid for the east of the Euphrates in Syria where the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) has bases that have been used in terrorist incidents in Turkey including suicide bombings in Ankara and Istanbul. So that area also has to be secured and the serious threat against Turkey has to be eliminated. This is what the Americans have to understand.But the real source of malice is Qandil. It is good "neutralizing" PKK terrorists in Turkey, Syria and northern Iraq but the real target should be the head of the snake. Once the head of the snake is destroyed then the task of dealing with the secessionist terrorists becomes that much easier. But that is easier said than done.
That is exactly the aim of the current operations targeting Qandil. The head of the snake is the target. Turkey is currently laying the groundwork for raids on Qandil and now has the capabilities for doing the job properly thanks to enhanced homemade surveillance and intelligence capabilities.