Turkey’s Kurdish Initiative

Great article by Yigal Schleifer on a soon-to-be-unveiled Turkish initiative to address Kurdish grievances. So far, there’s not a lot of detail about the nuts and bolts, but there are a number of reasons to be encouraged. Not least of those is that Ankara has finally acknowledged that the PKK alone is not the problem, and that the military effort to dislodge them from northern Iraq is not the solution.

Perhaps the most worrisome sign is this:

Dogu Ergil, a professor of political science at Ankara University,says the Kurdish initiative could be hurt by what he sees a lack ofconsultation between the government and other key players –particularly the Kurds themselves — about how to best approach theproblem. “We lack a definition of what we are trying to solve and somepeople have gathered behind closed doors and decided they have thesolution,” he said.

“For the Kurdish people in Turkey, it isstill a state initiative,” Ergil continued. “The method has not beendemocratic enough so far. . . . That’s the problem. The whole thing is amystery.”

As Hannes Artens pointed out in his WPR briefing last May, that’s a pretty significant problem. Artens’ piece also makes me wonder whether Ankara’s newfound urgency is as domestically driven as some of those interviewed by Schleifer suggest, and not part of a push by the Obama administration to firm up Turkey’s credibility as a regional interlocutor.

Be that as it may, inasmuch as Turkey has a significant regional role to play, the fact that it might be closer to resolving one of its residual internal faultlines is welcome news, and makes this something to keep an eye on for all sorts of reasons.

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