The Real Challenge for U.S.-Turkish Relations: Turkish Kurds

The Real Challenge for U.S.-Turkish Relations: Turkish Kurds

In the past couple of months, news about Turkey has been littered with reports about the spasms of violence between Turkish troops and militants of the terrorist Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) in the rugged, mountainous eastern part of the country. After a decade of cease-fire, old hatreds have resurfaced with a vengeance, costing the lives of more than 250 soldiers in the past year, and 10 soldiers and 29 Kurdish guerillas this month alone. Mothers and wives kneeling and wailing over their sehit (martyr) sons draped in the Turkish flag have become regular images on Turkish television screens and in Turkish newspapers. "The last glance at his father," read a recent headline in an emotionally charged article, juxtaposed with a picture of an infant gazing at his father's lifeless body at the funeral.

According to a recent article from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a 2006 survey by the Turkish think tank TESEV revealed that terrorism ranked "among the public's top concerns," along with other major issues such as Turkey's crippling inflation rate. Turks cite the U.S. invasion of Iraq as the most important factor in the explosive new outburst of Kurdish separatist sentiment in Turkey. Indeed, despite a relative leveling of Turkish-American ties after the decline that followed the invasion of Iraq, Turkey's Kurdish issue continues to stand as a major roadblock on the path to a stronger alliance between the U.S. and Turkey -- at a time when Ankara's support is crucial to the United States.

Turkey's Disillusionment

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