NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN > Proxy war and the PKK

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Nowadays, everyone is asking the reasons for the increase in outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacks. However, if there are about 5,000 to 6,000 militants in your mountains, it should not be a surprise for you to receive news of attacks. Yet, the intensity of an increase/decrease in attacks can be still a subject of curiosity.

The history of the PKK shows us that there is a direct relationship between the intensity of attacks and some variables, such as the season, the political situation in the country, internal crises in the organization and changes in the balance of regional politics. Based on changes in the balance of regional politics, this article aims to explain the reasons why the intensity of PKK attacks is rising.

For many years, Turkey’s southern neighbors have been struggling with conflicts and problems that have become chronic. In recent years, Turkey has been more directly engaged in these events than ever. Specifically, three subjects are remarkable. Firstly, Turkey has allowed the deployment of NATO radars in the country against Iranian and Russian missiles. Secondly, despite the opposition of Iraq, Turkey has given a green light to the Kurdish regional government’s oil and natural gas pipeline. Lastly, Turkey has begun actively working with the U.S. as well as Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the collapse of the al-Assad regime.

The common point of all these three initiatives is that it damages directly the interests of the Syrian, Iranian and Russian bloc. Due to Turkey’s Syria politics, Iran and Russia will lose their best ally. Of course, this will have some political and traumatic effects. On the other hand, Turkey’s close cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in their Syria politics is enough to inflame Shiite Iran and Russia, which is anxious about Salafis in the country. This attitude, taken with the permission for the deployment of radars, makes the conflict of politics sharper. Finally, Turkey’s oil contract with the Kurdistan Regional Government has not only sparked many Western companies’ attempts to enter into the region, it also weakened the Baghdad government, which is one of Iran’s best allies. In the long term, this means the Iranian and Russian share of the natural gas and oil markets in Turkey will be threatened.

Despite these contradictions, Russia and Iran are good economic partners with Turkey. Yet, rather than being strategic, this relation is conjectural. In other words, pragmatism is hegemonic in these relationships. For instance, Russia is Turkey’s most important natural gas supplier. This relationship is asymmetrical, and it favors Russia. We can make similar interpretations for Iran.

Considering all of these developments and relationships, we cannot reach the conclusion that Russia, Iran and Syria would not react to Turkey. The political culture, past experiences, zeitgeist and economic interest of Iran, Syria and Russia suggest that rather than facing Turkey directly, they should deal with the issues in an indirect way.

At this point, it would not be a surprise if Syria, Russia and Iran use their hidden and ready sticks like they did in the 1990s, in other words, it would not be a surprise if they use the PKK. Consequently, it appears that in coming days Turkey will find herself in a proxy war. This time the conditions will be harsher.


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Notice on comments

Blue Dotterel

8/11/2012 4:16:28 PM

Guney, perhaps you could tell us how many Alevi are in the AKP parliament or are ministers.Are there any Kurdish ministers?

Josh Walcott

8/10/2012 5:25:54 AM

A separate Kurdish identity, for the Kurds of Turkey needs to be fostered. Also we need to remove the restrictions for the education and legal representation of kurds in kurdish, we must take away that appeal from the terrorists.

Guney Levent

8/9/2012 10:32:05 PM

From a total of 550 parliament members, 125 are Kurdish The BDP/PKK has 35 parliamentmembers, all Kurds. The AKP has 326, with more then 70 Kurdish members. Who really represents the Kurds in Turkey?

Aryeh Rapaport

8/9/2012 9:32:36 PM

Falk, Turk, What We SHOULD ASK: WILL ATTACKS CONTINUE? We should expect attacks to continue so long Turkey doesnt change its policy. Turkey has been treating Kurdish population as second class citizens; its only LOGICAL Kurds want their own institutions where justice prevails. Turk, its not about who can win in battle but what is fair, just and smart. You can continue occupying and stopping Kurdish growth, potential or join together & benefit from all the potential of a Independent Kurdistan

Rebwar Rashed

8/9/2012 9:04:20 PM

This kind of thinking will not take you anywhere. The Kurdish question, especially in Turkey, is the largest national and democratic question in the world. Not to realize that will cost Turkey much harm. Sit down with the PKK, grant the Kurds the same rights you yourself have and be a god neighbor to the whole Kurdish nation. Kurds and Turks together can make a better future for everybody. Blindness, hatred and oppression haven’t helped you in more than 100 year. Listen and learn!


8/9/2012 8:42:24 PM

How does Turkey lose a war against terrorists? PKK plants a flag in the middle of Ankara? There are a few things for sure here, PKK will not win, Kurds will lose and continue to lose, and they may even lose it all at this rate and more boys will die. Their long and miserable existence have taught them nothing.

Blue Dotterel

8/9/2012 6:32:02 AM

The PKK is not really doing anything it hasn't done before, so don't be alarmist. They are merely taking advantage of a situation that the AKP has created, and anticipating a future merger of Iraqi, Syrian and Turkish Kurds into a more unified group. Turkey's foolish attack on Syria has made this possible. As far as I know the PKK has no new weapons or tactics. They are merely increasing attacks due the chaos the AKP has helped deliberately create in Syria. There is only one proxy army, the FSA.

Turk Uzan

8/9/2012 5:18:21 AM

@ Adam Kurdland, idk in what imaginary world you live but the Kurds in Turkey are more like 15 million. Anyway haha ... in what fantasy universe does the PKK stand a chance vs Turkey There are a thousand times as many Kurds in the Turkish gov, army, police, court, etc. then in PKK/PJAK/PYD and probably even peshmerge together...

Falk Bernard

8/9/2012 4:41:39 AM

The author is right. Turkey is granting Kurds more and more freedoms like broadcasting in Kurdish. But in the meantime the Pkk is trying to sabotage all these efforts. It wants Turks and Kurds to divide by fueling murder and destruction. This means Pkk doesn't care for the Kurds. That is logical, because they are contractors of foreign powers.

Adam Kurdland

8/9/2012 1:15:36 AM

the conflict of PKK and Turkey is as the result of Turkeys repression against 20 million Kurds with in Turkey. In recent years Turkey dose not even know how it conducts its politics, calling for regime change in syria and trying to prevent pluralistic syria from emerging. Turkey eventually loses its war against PKK, and they have some one like you to put the pen down and describe it as a "proxy war".
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