Turkey and Neighbourhood

PKK Violence Impacts Ankara Policymaking

0 1


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.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Outbidding in Times of Uncertainty – Post-conflict transitions and competitive violence.

    Large bombings, only days apart, in Bogota and Derry/Londonderry have put paid to any notions of a simple peace process in either country. These events show that the two very different conflicts display many of the same dynamics. Both countries have seen increasingly fragmented peace processes, with multiple non-state actors and intransient splinter groups vying…

  • The inherent dangers of secrecy in the US foreign policy

    Since the Vietnam War, officials of the United States have increasingly abused the essential democratic safeguards of accountability and an informed citizenry in apparent attempts to protect themselves from being held accountable for their actions. They use secrecy and disinformation to prevent the American people from obtaining the information they need to evaluate their government’s…

  • 18th Issue of Political Reflection Magazine is Out Now!

    Vol. V | No. I – January-February-March 2019 To Download the Magazine Click Here… CONTENTS 05-06…..World News by Furkan Sahin 09-14…..The Ideological Potential of Climate Change: (Post) Politics in the Age of Global Warming by Miguel Angel Zhan Dai 15-18…..Yemen Civil War: A Conflict That Has Never Ended by Dr. I. Aytac Kadioglu 21-25…..NATO: The Shifting Sands of an Alliance by…

  • CESRAN International Named again amongst the Top Think Tanks in the World

    CESRAN International is pleased to announce that it has been named again amongst the world’s best think tanks. The 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index ranked CESRAN International 141st among the World’s “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe” 76th among the World’s “Top Environment Policy Think Tanks” 152nd among the World’s “Top Foreign Policy…

  • 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…