Turkey’s Kurdish issue: From peace to low intensity-war


The clashes between the PKK and the Turkish military have spread to urban centres, making thousands flee their homes.

This article was published on Al Jazeera online yesterday. It seems to present a fairly balanced picture of the situation – something which is not readily available elsewhere, at least in English language media:

5b7e99681e944afc9c43898cb6689232_18It wasn’t long ago when optimism was the gist of the day on Turkey’s Kurdish issue. Many believed that there was about to be a substantial settlement of this century-old problem.

In the early days of 2013, the armed conflict ceased. Peace as a new normality was setting in. Reaping the spoils of the peaceful political climate, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) scored the highest electoral achievement in the history of the Kurdish political movement. Although support for the Kurdish parties in Turkey has traditionally hovered at 5-6 percent, the HDP’s young leader Selahattin Demirtas received 9.8 percent of the votes in the presidential election of August 2014, and the HDP acquired 13 percent in the June 2015 elections. That figure later dropped to 10.7 percent in November’s snap elections.

At present, this picture seems to belong to a bygone era as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey have once again resumed armed violence.

3707d8f2be163bd14c78cf07586f13bb_L-1The PKK – inspired by the success of its sister organisation the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, is trying to replicate PYD tactics in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey. It is attempting to establish what it proclaims as “democratic autonomy” in some of the Kurdish towns – by digging trenches, building barricades and resorting to brute force.

The fallacy in this approach is that Turkey is not Syria. Despite all its shortcomings, Turkey is a functioning democracy, where the HDP very recently could mount a powerful opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK party) government. In such a context, the PKK’s strategy to turn Kurdish cities, towns and neighbourhoods into a battleground expectedly invites a forceful response from the government.

Since conditions of security and order are completely different in Turkey, a strategy inspired by the imbroglio in Syria is unlikely to work. The fact that the PKK has thus far failed to generate significant societal support and participation in its endeavour shows how ill-conceived this new approach has been. The HDP’s failure to distance itself from the PKK’s strategy cost the party more than one million votes. And the resumption of fighting after the June elections was another reason for the decreased support for the HDP at the snap elections. Read the whole article


7 thoughts on “Turkey’s Kurdish issue: From peace to low intensity-war

    • I think anti-PKK sentiment is hardening in Turkey – and as the Al Jazeera writer says, the HDP party will undoubtedly lose the support it had picked up from non-Kurdish anti-AKP liberals. It’s interesting that, although Kurds are said to make up 20% of Turkey’s population, until this year they were never able to break through the 10% electoral threshold. I suspect the majority are quite happy to be part of Turkey – if only the extremist Turkish nationalists would wise up and shut up.

      • keep a critical eye on the lookout for deception.
        Rarely is it true that a minority party will do extremist acts of violence that weaken their rising political base. More often deadly acts of extremism from a minority is out of a hopeless position of survival or a ruse from a more influential party that feels threaten from the minority’s popular rise and falsely blaming atrocious acts to the enemy is effective strategy.

        What parties are threatened by the growth of the HDP?
        Rarely is the political behind the scenes clearly portrayed on the headlines by the mass media.
        I do not know the nuances of the Turkish political environment but the institutional governance system of deception is playing out in every nation worldwide.
        How the political deception plays out in Turkey is my real question.

    • Actually I think the situation in Turkey is different from that in Western countries, in the sense that the mass media in the West tends to generally publish anti-Turkey, or anti-the-government of Turkey stuff. Through the 60s, 70s, 80s and into the 90s there was a series of miltary coups in Turkey, at least allegedly, supported by Gladio/the CIA – and a procession of short-lived and largely ineffective coalition or military-sponsored governments. The AKP party was formed in 2002 as a result of deep disillusionment with those events and more – and in less than a year they were elected as a stand-alone government. Imagine that happening in the USA, as you contemplate the possibility of having Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as the next president!

  1. Have you been hearing reports about the smuggling triangle and Gold Scandal?
    “a gold-smuggling scandal that took place under the nose of the US and the international community for years, one which allowed Iran to skirt international sanctions using gold as a barter tool to keep its economy going and involved China and Russia among many other nations, and one which saw the participation of not only the economic and prime ministers of Turkey (and current president) but also countless corrupt Turkish politicians and the richest person in Iran, but also the second most powerful person in Dubai, the largest holding company in the Arab Emirates and the largest gold holding company in the Gulf state. ”

    In 2014 I had searched to see if Turkey was attempting to distance itself from the NATO alliance, but apparently the covert ties to the hegemony runs very deep.

    Turkey’s covert (CIA, MI6, etc.) connections, wealth and policies are under the public spotlight as the war campaign against Syria continues…

    • Yes, a big story related to this matter blew up in December 2013. It’s impossible to know the full facts of course. The government oposition insists that what you report is true – but they themselves are pretty unreliable, being tarred with the brush of Turkey’s recent past as I outlned above. Turkey had gone along (at least overtly) with the US embargo imposed after Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Iran in ’79 – and suffered economically as a result. Some argue that the Islamic revolution in Iran was a direct result of years of US support for the puppet regime of the Shah after a CIA-sponsored coup in 1952. Also, of course, as we know, world trade is chained to the USD, and so using gold (or maybe bitcoin) is about the only way of gettiing around it. Some might argue this particular embargo desrerved to be got around.

      • Good observations, their are no reliable sources, the best we can do is to hunt for source documents and then critique for authenticity.

        One note about “government”, I find it useful to see government not as a singular entity, but rather more akin to a group consortium with agents and officials that belong to the various interests. Which is why Puppets has become such a prominent characteristic of politicians and more citizens are seeing it. Too bad citizens don’t have access to the secret intelligence databases to identify the various puppet loyalties and houses of great influence.

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