Aliza Marcus writes frequently in major English-language and Turkish-language publications on Kurdish and Turkish issues. She is also on twitter @alizamarcus
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has forced America to return to the battlefield in Iraq. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered airstrikes against ISIS fighters nearing Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, while insisting that he wouldn’t allow the United States to be “dragged” back into Iraq. If Mr. Obama really wants to ensure no boots on the ground, he will have to rethink America’s policy toward Kurdish nationalism, and recognize the Kurds, and not only Iraqi ones, are his main ally against ISIS.
Iraqi Kurdish strategy has paid off. The Kurds spent the past few years working to strengthen the Kurdistan region while keeping a wary distance from the rest of Iraq. They didn’t trust Baghdad, neither to deal with them fairly, nor to survive as a secular, democratic state. The Iraqi Kurds were proved right. Baghdad consistently tried to weaken the Kurdistan Regional Government through fights over oil money and deals – and now the Iraqi state itself is under threat from the radical Islamist ISIS. The Kurds are in a strong position precisely because they ignored United States pressure to accommodate Baghdad.
The Turkish military wasn’t supposed to matter anymore. Over the past three years, many of Turkey’s senior military officers were tried and imprisoned on charges of planning coups against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s democratically elected government. The trials came after Erdogan successfully moved to reduce the military’s role in political decision-making and put it under the firm control of civilian rule. Together, these actions not only reduced the threat of a coup against the Islamist-leaning Erdogan, but also helped the prime minister cement popular backing from other Islamic conservatives and Turkey’s liberals, all of whom were happy to see the armed forces pay for their past abuses.
Unofficial Turkish translation: Türkiye: Generallerin Dönüşü, Özgür Medya, April 15, 2014
Cengiz Solmaz, PKK tarihini anlatan “Kan ve İnanç” adlı kitabımı sevmemiş! Benim ne yapmak istediğimi zaten pek tasavvur etmiyor. Makalesinde beni “kibirli bir Batılı” olmakla suçluyor; “bir Oryantalist” (aslında kibirli bir Batılı anlamına gelen) kötü bir analist ve PKK söz konusu olduğu zaman daha da kötü bir analist!”
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The United States has spent the past two years struggling to craft a policy to weaken Syrian president Bashar Assad and Al Qaeda-linked militants at the same time. Now, as President Barack Obama seeks to strip Syria of its chemical weapons, it’s time for Washington to build ties to those inside Syria who are committed to the same anti-Assad and anti-jihadist goals: the Kurds.
Unofficial Turkish translation: Dostlar yok ama Kürdler var, BAS NEWS, October 2, 2013
THE assassination of three Kurdish activists in Paris last week has raised fears that the true target was peace talks between Turkey and the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the P.K.K. But the so-called peace process was already in shambles before the killings, which have not been solved.
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claims that he wants a deal to end nearly 30 years of war between the state and the P.K.K. rebels. But he has yet to take the decisive action needed for a credible peace process. Until he understands that the Kurdish problem in Turkey is about politics and identity, and not just about getting the guerrillas to withdraw from Turkey and give up their weapons, there will be no hope for peace.
The new face of the Kurdish rebel fight in Turkey could easily be Zeynep, a thirty-year-old university graduate with a full-time management job in Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish southeast. Born in Bingol Province, in the mountains where rebels of the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party) regularly battle Turkish soldiers, she moved to western Turkey for university. There, she joined a Kurdish student youth group. Someone from the PKK came and told the students that they weren’t needed in the mountains to fight. “We were told, ‘Stay where you are, because you are more useful in the legal and civil areas. The mountains are full.’”
The breakdown of authority in Syria and creation of a Kurdish enclave there has unexpectedly pushed Kurds to the forefront of regional politics—and almost nobody’s happy.
Pity Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It seems he just can’t get the Kurdish issue right.
The Turkish prime minister is losing control of his country’s Kurdish problem, even as rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan sits in prison.
Forget Gaza or Iran, Prime Minister Erdogan needs to focus on the reignited war with Kurdish separatists -- before a full-fledged war breaks out in Turkey's restive southeast.