By Nicholas Danforth
October 17, 2016
Turkey's July 15 coup attempt has transformed the country's politics, and notably it has deepened a dangerous pre-existing dilemma. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces rival challenges from a Kurdish nationalist movement with a longstanding commitment to violence and a nationalistic Turkish electorate which opposes the concessions that will be necessary to make peace with the Kurds. This triangular tension means that Turkey will face a series of trade-offs, setting the country's embattled prospects for peace and democracy against one another.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
September 19, 2016
The Turkish government’s recent dismissal of elected Kurdish officials from local authorities in the southeast and its preparations to prosecute Kurdish members of parliament risk exacerbating social tensions at a time of already severe domestic political turbulence.
By Svante E. Cornell
July 20, 2016
The failed military coup in Turkey provides a window into just how unstable and vulnerable Turkey has become. The coup is a unique but not isolated event, more than anything a symptom of the decay of Turkish state institutions under Erdogan. The sizable post-coup repression will make matters worse, in fact increasing rather than decreasing the risk of further violence, including a new coup. Turkey is now more a problem in its own right than an ally to help solve regional problems.
Hasan Cemal in t24 notes that Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stated that 1915 was “an ordinary event, something that happened during the First World War, and which was something that can happen in any country.” 1915 is not an ordinary event. It is “genocide.” Yet am I surprised that Yıldırım has made such a statement? Not really. Today, we see an alliance of Islamists and nationalists forming. Erdoğan has joined hands with Bahçeli (the MHP leader), Ergenekon, the military and the Kemalist nationalists. They all agree on nearly every issue, especially about the Kurdish issue and PKK. When the immunity of the parliamentarians was lifted, they also included Kılıçdaroğlu (the CHP leader) among their ranks. The question of 1915 is another point where they agree. This is a strange kind of Islamist-nationalist alliance. It is extremely dangerous. It is an alliance that is going to divide the country even more, and that will split it. It is a coalition that threatens to pave the way for a much more violent internal fighting, with political assassinations and provocations in its trail. And where is CHP in this “alliance?” There seems to be confusion in the party about its belonging. Yet it’s nonetheless obvious that the Kemalist nationalists in the party are appealed by this alliance when it comes to taking stands in the Kurdish issue, toward PKK, 1915, and the “parallel structure” (i.e. the Gülenists…) Turkey is charging fully ahead in the Islamist-nationalist coup process. Unless a democratic front is formed against it, it will inflict ever more pain on the country and cause much more bloodshed.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Karar writes that Turkey is making a mistake, assuming that it has solved the Kurdish issue after having defeated the PKK militarily in the war of the trenches, and because the Kurdish society has not come out in support of the PKK in this war. In fact, the picture is not at all that “rosy…” Where would we have been today, if the people of the region had lent support to the PKK in this, the latest phase of the insurrection? It is obvious that this would have brought with it a general war that could have spread all across the country. Let’s not forget that the reason why this popular support failed to materialize was because people found PKK’s call for a “popular war” unreasonable, and because people realized that war would cause unbearable pain. It was not because it thought highly of the government that it refrained from following the PKK. Now, what do you think will happen if the PKK one day makes a demand that does appear “reasonable and just” to the people? This is something that the state must make preparations to avoid. We need to keep in mind what is the sine qua non for a lasting and healthy solution of the Kurdish issue: a solution needs to bring with it a unity that the Kurdish people in the region believe is rightful, just and livable. If the demand for a status for the Kurdish people is not satisfied, the country will face chaos. Today, we have to see that ninety percent of the youth in the region feel an affinity with the PKK. To this, you can add the trauma caused in families after the thousands of deaths in the war during the last year. For each day, the Kurdish identity and consciousness grow stronger, and while people don’t necessarily use the same terminology as the PKK, there is nonetheless a strong popular endorsement of the demand for a “status” and an expectation that this will be realized. Turkey doesn’t have the time for wait for a new constitution. We urgently need a package for “societal unity.”
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.