More signals are emerging of remarkable movement on the Turkey-Kurdish question. Turkey and Iraq just signed an MoU on military cooperation, which alone says a lot, given the fact that Turkey is still routinely violating Iraqi airspace and sovereignty in its campaign against the PKK. Meanwhile, Ankara’s engagement with Irbil, capital of the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq, continues, with a planned visit by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Tangentially, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has been invited to both Baghdad (by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani) and to Washington (by President Barack Obama), in advance of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. That demonstrates that the Obama administration is taking a keen interest in generating a domestic concensus within Turkey in support of the U.S. goals for regional stability. And as Hannes Artens explained in a recent WPR briefing, resolving the PKK problem, as well as a long-term accomodation for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, would remove a major factor of instability.
The PKK is still armed, dangerous and problematic. But in light of this week’s theme issue, Intractable Conflict, this kind of diplomatic progress on such a longstanding impasse is, once again, remarkable.