Turkey and Neighbourhood

PKK Violence Impacts Ankara Policymaking



Friday, 28 October 2011 18:54

On October 22, a group of armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members crossed into Turkey from Iraq and killed twenty-four Turkish soldiers, the group’s most devastating attack since 1993. In the early 1990s, when the PKK inflicted heavy damage on Turkey, Ankara focused its energies on combating the group, with all domestic and foreign policy debates becoming a subset of the government’s PKK policy.

PKK_Members_KurdistanThis latest attack — along with summer incidents in which a total of ninety-two security personnel and twenty-three civilians were killed and another thirty-two taken hostage — could usher in a new, PKK-dominated era in Turkish politics. Washington must take this “PKK prism” into account, since it may shape not only the country’s domestic scene, but also its relations with Iraq and Iran at a time when the United States is looking for Middle East allies to support its policies on Iran and Iraq.

Indeed, the issue will likely dominate Turkish political debate for at least the next few months, including discussions regarding a new constitution. Whereas analysts had expected a new charter to address Kurdish nationalist concerns, the spike in PKK violence renders these hopes obsolete.

The PKK issue will also affect political debate on foreign policy matters, including Ankara’s close ties with Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad. Given that the PKK is increasingly using Iraqi territory to attack Turkey, many Turks will oppose further rapprochement of this sort, effectively limiting Ankara’s ability to counterbalance Iranian influence inside Iraq.

The PKK is known to have camps inside Iran and has attacked Iranian targets through its local franchise, known as the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK). Yet PJAK recently declared a ceasefire with Tehran, suggesting an end to hostilities. If Iran now chooses to ignore the PKK presence on its territory — as it had done in the past — it will likely infuriate many Turks. On October 21, however, the Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers declared that the two countries would “collaborate in fighting the PKK.” If this announcement crystallizes into policy, it could cast Tehran as Turkey’s friend.

Going forward, Washington should highlight its cooperation against the PKK, particularly the intelligence assistance it provides to Ankara. Simultaneously, it must find ways to prevent the PKK from becoming either a wedge between Turkey and Iraq or a bridge between Ankara and Tehran.

About the author / 


Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

jga bookreview

jga bookreview


jga bookreview

jga bookreview

jga bookreview

jga bookreview

jga bookreview

jga bookreview

jga bookreview


  • New Issue is Out Now!

    Vol. IV | No. V – October-November-December 2018 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 04-06…..World News by Furkan Sahin  08-20…..Terrorism in Syria and Beyond: An Interview with Prof. Alain Gabon by Dr. Rahman Dag 22-24…..Erdogan’s Best Shot is Still in the West by Dr. Murat Ulgul 26-30…..Raqqa vs Kobani – Terrorism vs Revolution by Dr. Rahman Dag 32-34…..Future of…

  • Domestic Politics and the Design of International Institutions

    Abstract Scholars are increasing focused on how and why states design international institutions. International relations theories have historically guided research on these institutions, but have not provided adequate insights into the theoretical bases for their design. Rationalists’ theories of domestic politics offer an alternative approach to understanding institutional design. This study utilizes the positive theory…

  • Five generations after the Balfour Declaration: How do Palestinians Resist and Engender Significant Social Change?

    How to Cite: SELLICK, P. (2018), Five generations after the Balfour Declaration: How do Palestinians Resist and Engender Significant Social Change?. Journal of Conlicft Transformation and Security, 6(2): 139–142. The context of Israeli expansion and Palestinian dispossession Over the past year, a series of anniversaries has occurred which marks the progressive dispossession and displacement of the Palestinians….

  • CESRAN International named the World’s #83 “Best Independent Think Tank”

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named the world’s number 83 “Best Independent Think Tank”. The ranking was announced in the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report compiled by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute. CESRAN International was also ranked 77th among the “Top Environment…

  • The Current State of AI as We Begin 2018

    Artificial intelligence (AI) states one recent article is no smarter than a six-year-old. A study that appeared last summer compared the intelligence quotient (IQ) of Google, Apple, Baidu, and Bing AI to the average human 18, 12, and 6-year-olds. The 6-year-old’s IQ was rated at 55.5 while the 12 and 18-year-olds rated 84.5 and 97.0 respectively. The end result rated…