By Tülin Daloglu (vol. 2, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
For a long time, the relationship between Turkey and Iraq has been defined by the fact that Iraqi Kurds provide a safe haven for the separatist Kurdish terrorist organization, the PKK. Yet Gen. Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s Chief of Staff, said recently in Washington that Iraq’s Kurdish region is no longer a safe place for PKK terrorists. that gain cannot yet be counted as permanent. Next January, Iraq will see general elections as well as a referendum on controversial issues like the future of Kirkuk. With U.S. troops withdrawing from Iraqi cities, escalating high-profile attacks raise concerns about the Iraqi forces’ ability to secure the country. In this make it-or-break it year for Iraq, the Kurds must decide the price they will pay to retain Kirkuk inside their territory. They will also have to decide whether they are willing to risk a possible breakaway from Iraq.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish society is marred by cultural, religious, ethnic and political polarization. Indeed, the polarization runs so deep as to conjure up the vision of a country divided into metaphorically gated communities having nothing in common with each other except their mutual contempt. According to several recent surveys, reciprocal, societal intolerance toward the “other” is widespread, mirroring the undeclared civil war that rages among the institutions of the state. Turkey will have to be renegotiated and reinvented if the country is to escape from the present impasse. Yet, Turkey’s historical experience of nation-building suggests that the prospects of managing and eventually overcoming differences are not promising.
By Svante E. Cornell (vol. 2, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
After two decades of deep tensions with Iran, the AKP government has largely rebuilt relations with Turkey’s historical rival and neighbor. Yet its responses to the Iranian crisis – in which Prime Minister Erdoğan was embarrassingly among the first to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upon his highly questionable re-election – appears to question the foundations of this rapprochement. Moreover, it indicates the limitations of Ankara’s newly found “zero-problem” foreign policy, which appears to mean that Turkey has no opinions on the basis of either interests, values or principles in its neighborhood.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
Once again, commentators raise the question whether there is a risk of a military coup in Turkey. There is no reason at all to believe that the General staff entertains any such thoughts. However, recent developments have nevertheless provided a reminder that the military’s position remains delicate. The Chief of the General staff, General Ilker Başbuğ, is in fact engaged in an awkward battle on two fronts, against old coup habits in the military, and against the challenge posed by the Islamic movement of Fethullah Gülen.
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.