By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 2, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
The October 24 announcement by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he was postponing the planned arrival in Turkey from Europe on October 28 of 15 members and sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was a tacit admission that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had seriously miscalculated a critical phase in the “Kurdish Opening”, which is designed to address the grievances of Turkey’s Kurdish minority and persuade the PKK to lay down its arms.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
The AKP government’s “Kurdish opening” is a promising initiative in principle. Turkey can ill afford to postpone the search for a new societal concord. However, the scope for a resolution of the Kurdish issue is extremely narrow. Recognizing that Kurdish nationalism will have to be further accommodated, the Turkish state seeks a way to do so without endangering the unitary state. Furthermore, the AKP’s effort to reconcile the ethnic division of Turkey will be hampered by the fact that the governing party enjoys scant credibility as a uniting force.
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 M. K. Kaya (vol. 1, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
Faced with an increasingly intractable problem of PKK terrorism, coupled with increasing tensions in society between citizens of ethnic Turkish and Kurdish origin, the governing AKP appears to have moved to the right. Erdogan’s rhetoric has become increasingly nationalistic, aligning itself more with the military brass on issues concerning the PKK, the Kurdish question in general, and Iraq. This has led to some discontent among ethnic Kurdish forces within the AKP, which have been an important support base for the party. The split was most clearly visible in the resignation of the AKP’s deputy Chairman and prominent politician of Kurdish origin, Dengir Firat. This likely has important implications for the AKP’s electoral hopes in upcoming local elections, not least in the Southeast.
By Halil Magnus Karaveli (vol. 1, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
Ethnic polarization between Turks and Kurds has intensified as the PKK continues its attacks on Turkish targets. Hatred against Kurds, not a regular feature in Turkey so far, is on the rise in Turkish society. Turkey’s Kurdish problem will become even more difficult to handle if an ethnic nationalism that excludes the Kurds develops further at a popular level. However, it is evident that old assumptions about the conflict will have to be revised.
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.