By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 1, 2011, a court in Istanbul formally charged 23 suspects with membership of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ordered that they be imprisoned pending trial. The suspects included Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a respected academic from Istanbul’s Marmara University, and Ragıp Zarakolu, a prominent publisher and human rights activist. The decision to arrest Ersanlı and Zarakolu is another blow to already fading hopes that the AKP government’s new appetite for confrontation will be replaced by a desire to solve the Kurdish problem through dialogue and conciliation.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
On October 1, 2011, 25 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and five pro-Kurdish independents were formally sworn in as members of the Turkish parliament, abandoning a three month-old boycott of the assembly in protest at the continued imprisonment of another five BDP candidates who had won seats in the June 12, 2011, general election. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had already announced that its priority over the months ahead will be the drafting of a new constitution. The decision by the thirty pro-Kurdish deputies to take up their seats in parliament has raised hopes of a sustained dialogue with the AKP and the possible inclusion in the new constitution of sufficient concessions to solve Turkey’s Kurdish problem and persuade the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down its arms. However, although the presence of the pro-Kurdish deputies in Ankara does create the opportunity for dialogue and a short-term reduction in tensions, there currently appears little prospect of the AKP agreeing to the Kurdish nationalists’ minimum demands.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the Turkish-Kurdish conflict escalates, the release of a 50-minute tape recording of a meeting between leading officials of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has supplied insights into the strategy of the Turkish government. The effort to explore a peaceful solution was doomed because ultimately the ruling AKP has not disengaged from Turkish state tradition. The AKP state does have a more tolerant approach than the defunct Kemalist state, but it is nonetheless still a patronizing state that expects societal obedience. The AKP government thus never engaged in an earnest negotiation with the Kurdish representatives.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
Attacks carried out by Kurdish separatists since mid-July have set Turkey on the road to war. The Turkish government is determined to exact a heavy price from the Kurdish insurgents, and the PKK militants seem to be as determined to provoke an ethnic conflagration. As he is about to teach the Kurdish insurgents a severe lesson, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces what could be the greatest challenge of his career. The question is if the unparalleled power and authority that Erdoğan has assembled will ultimately suffice to secure Turkey’s unity.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
In the general election of June 12, 2011, candidates backed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won 36 seats in Turkey’s 550-member unicameral parliament. On June 21, 2011, the Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) stripped Hatip Dicle, one of the successful BDP candidates, of his seat on procedural grounds. On June 23, the BDP announced that it would boycott parliament unless Dicle was reinstated. Over the days that followed, courts in the city of Diyarbakır blocked the release of another five successful BDP candidates. The decisions infuriated the BDP and further antagonized Turkey’s already deeply alienated Kurdish minority. Unless the Turkish government acts quickly, both the BDP’s civil disobedience campaign and the violent insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) appear likely to escalate; with potentially devastating repercussions for Turkey’s social and political stability.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.