NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN > Iran, Turkey and the Kurds

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As has been foreseen, the attacks of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have begun to increase with the coming of summer. We are receiving a lot of conflict news, especially from the border with Iraq and towns.

Nowadays, we are witnessing interesting developments in particular about the PKK and about the Kurdish problem in general. Despite all the difficulties, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is continuing his rhetoric of “fighting against terrorists, negotiating with politicians.” In this regard, he is taking some steps, such as allowing Kurdish language teaching in schools.

On the other side, Beşir Atalay, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, is drawing a much more promising picture. According to him, initiatives are being taken to “disarm the PKK” with the help of northern Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani and the United States.

Meanwhile, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), chose “the Kurdish problem which is a difficult issue” and suggested a road map in order to show his “creativity and leadership.” Although what he tried to do was not clear enough, Erdoğan did not reject this suggestion at the beginning of the troublesome summer. As a result, he shared some of the burden of managing public opinion with the CHP for now.

Significant developments take place not only in internal politics, but also in foreign policy. Turkey is strengthening its economic, political and security relations with Barzani. Consequently, both sides will follow a policy where they decide the framework of mutual interdependency. Because a project to build a Kurdish oil pipeline to the Mediterranean will break Kurdish-Baghdad relations within a short period of time, it will create an interesting mutual interdependency between the parties.

On the other hand, this project will bring a massive influx of dollars which will affect not only the internal political life of Kurds, but also the regional equilibrium. For instance, a “rentier state” will be strengthened among the Kurds. Moreover, this will happen in the Arab Spring period which was triggered by bribery, corruption and nepotism.

Barzani, Jalal Talabani, the PKK, Iran and Baghdad will re-determine their relations and positions. Ultimately, we will witness new hostilities and alliances.

In this picture, we should especially mention Iran. It always sees itself as the major player in the Kurdish problem in Iraq. This role is a result of a historical and geopolitical heritage from the shah’s administration to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The new pipeline policy highlights important changes for Kurds and Iraq. Thus, Iran’s reaction won’t be too surprising. Iran can use its “covert operations” capability and “interesting networks.” What is more interesting here is the fact that while the U.S. encourages the Kurds on oil exports, it is also dictating restrictions on Iran. In such a situation, neither Iran nor Baghdad is expected to keep silent.

The issue gets more complicated with the developments in Syria. While the government of Turkey is supporting pro-Barzani Kurds against pro-PKK Kurds in Syria, both parties remain in close contact with each other.

As has been seen, we will witness interesting and unpredictable developments in the forthcoming days. However, despite its heavy cost, Turkey can be said to have the flexibility, power to tolerate and ability to maneuver in crisis management.


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Blue Dotterel

6/17/2012 1:58:57 PM

Dario Kurd, I think the British had more to do with the lack of a Kurdish state than the Turks. Afterall, who created Iraq which had the largest population of Kurds? The British could have created a Kurdish state. They did not. Why? and of course the French created Syria. No Kurdish state there, either. Ataturk might have created a Turk-Kurd republic except that the Kurds were an incoherent group of backward tribes, speaking many, often mutually incomprehensible, dialects of Kurdish.

dario Kurd

6/15/2012 6:15:25 PM

US Observer Kurds was given the right of independance in 1921 by nations league (Which was like UN then) before establishment of Turkish republic..so Kurds were forced to be part of Turkey..since then Turks has only brought to kurds death and misery..so Kurds have every right to demand end of these crimes..now Kurds at least deserve autonomy is not an independant state.

US Observer

6/14/2012 9:31:05 PM

There are many reasons they have not been eliminated, none of which means all Kurds support the PKK. Just because many want more freedom with their culture, does not mean they support terrorists or call for Turkey to relinquish its sovereignty I don't disagree, dialogue is important.

Doctor Osmanov

6/14/2012 5:48:50 PM

US observer if so many Kurds are happy to live in Turkey then how come PKK have not been eliminated for over 30 years? PKK would not exist if it was not for the support of the people. Most of the PKK are people that have lost everything and wants to give their lives to change the situation. For example in ULUDERE 34 civilians were murdered. Don't you think that most of their relatives will seek PKK to support them financially or even join them? Only way is through dialogue.

US Observer

6/14/2012 3:08:50 PM

He does not call Kurds terrosit, he calls the PKK terroists...which they are! Many Kurds are happy to live in Turkey and have no issue Mr Somalia.

dogan kemal ileri

6/14/2012 5:09:44 AM

The end is nigh for the PKK.They are out of date.Redundant.Lay down your arms and get political you can achieve far more for the Kurdish citizens of Turkiye.

MR Somalia

6/14/2012 4:30:17 AM

PM Erdogan is contradicting himself when he calls them "terrorist" but at the same time realizes in fact they are fighting for a course and hopes allowing Kurdish language as an elective might simmer some tensions down. You can't call people terrorist yet give in and negotiate. It's wrong to label the Kurdish course terrorist; a word only used in Washington and Tel Aviv to colonize and oppress others. Rebel would be the right word.
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