November 23, 2012

Top News Story: Turkey’s troubles are directly linked to the trouble of its neighbors

    Friday, November 23, 2012   No comments

Kurdish Fighters

Turkey found a formula for success, and then it lost it. When the Justice and Development Party took power in 2001, they promised economic growth at home founded on zero problems abroad. They were right in linking peace and stability in the region to economic development. That formula worked and it nearly brought them to ending the crisis with the Kurdish people.

All that promise of economic development and peace are now threatened. They are threatened because Turkey abandoned that formula and embraced war making instead of building peace. It is becoming clear that Turkey cannot go on labeling its Kurdish subjects terrorists and killing them while criticizing its neighbors for fighting what they call terrorists. This week, the contradiction was apparent.

Violence in the Turkish eastern region is on the rise. In addition to soldiers and Kurdish fighters clashes, on Thursday, a group (believed to be associated with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)), broke into a school in the eastern province of Van and set fire to classrooms.

On the legal front, a Turkish court sentenced three members of the PKK to life in prison for their involvement in a 2007 attack on a military outpost in Dağlıca, Hakkari province.

On same day, speaking to journalists aboard his plane as he was returning from a visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his government might take steps to make it possible for “terrorist” Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members to take shelter in other countries on condition that they lay down their weapons. He stressed that “as long as weapons remain in the hands of the terrorists, they may be shot at… The moment the terrorists lay down weapons… [they] go to other countries.”

Kurdish Population Areas
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Syrian opposition fighters associated with the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood attacked the Syrian Kurdish city of Raas Al-Ayn. When Kurdish Neighborhood Protection committees resisted, Turkey inserted its tanks and Special Forces to support fighters from Jabhat Alnusrah and Ghurabaa Alshaam. In response, Kurdish fighters from inside Turkey sent fighters to help their Kurdish brethren on the Syrian side.

In Iraq, the Iraqi army is threatening Kurdish militia and putting the Kurdish regional government under pressure for entering into oil export deals with Turkey. The Iraqi central government insists that border control and national resources management such as oil expert, fall under the jurisdiction of the central government alone, not the regional ones. Turkey is siding with the Kurdish regional government and that is adding fuel to sectarian tension in the region.

The deployment of Patriot missile systems along the Turkish-Syrian border brought Russian condemnation and military reaction. It was reported Friday that Russia is sending several battle ships to the Mediterranean Sea. All these developments are adding to tension in the region and creating a heavy social and economic cost to Turkey and its neighbors. In the end, the Syrian conflict and Turkey losing sight of the foundation for success might enable the Kurdish people to gain some of the rights.



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Islamic Societies Review Editors

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