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.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 5 of the Turkey Analyst)
On February 28, 2011, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced that it was abrogating its unilateral ceasefire first declared on August 13, 2010. Initially, the PKK had been expected to continue to abstain from violence until after the June 12, 2011 general election; after which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has pledged to introduce a new, more liberal, constitution. However, recent months have witnessed growing frustration at the AKP’s refusal to clarify what concessions to Kurdish demands will be included in the new constitution; while a large number of Kurdish nationalists have been arrested and prosecuted on poorly substantiated charges.
The future of the Kurdish peace process has become cause for concern after the violent clashes in Lice between Kurdish demonstrators and police and after a Kurdish militant brought down the Turkish flag on a military base in Diyarbakır. Mustafa Akyol in pro-government Star invites the Kurdish nationalists to make up their minds about whether or not they intend to remain part of Turkey. Ali Bayramoğlu in similarly pro-government Yeni Şafak argues that it is necessary to give Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, more freedom of action and to make him the interlocutor of the peace negotiations, in order to bring down tensions.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 3, no. 17 of the Turkey Analyst)
At this stage, the Turkish government remains unprepared to commit itself to the kind of constitutional changes that the Kurdish movement requests. Yet a dialogue has presently gotten under way between the Turkish state and the Kurdish movement. If that dialogue can be sustained over a longer period of time, the prospects for a resolution of Turkey’s intractable conflict would look brighter than ever.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 3, no. 13 of the Turkey Analyst)
After the failure of the Kurdish opening and the offensive of the PKK, Turkey gropes for a way out of its Kurdish impasse. Recent statements by the Turkish Chief of the General staff General İlker Başbuğ suggest that a major military incursion into northern Iraq to stamp out the PKK is being considered. Yet it is unlikely that the Turkish state leadership truly believes that there is a military solution to the challenge posed by the demands of the Kurdish population. The moment when that challenge will have to be properly addressed is only being postponed.
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.