Analysis and Summary: Turkey at a Tipping Point

The December 2014 edition of Current History has a collection of articles on the Middle East by prominent scholars that give excellent analyses and updates for different countries in the region. Here’s my take on Turkey.

Defining Hate Crimes and Other Goodies in the Democracy Gift Box

Sexual orientation was missing in the original draft, but ‘ethnicity’ seems to have been replaced by “language, race, nationality”, which could include some ethnic others, but has no place for people who are culturally different, like the Roma, but who speak Turkish and are citizens.

Turkish Hizbullah Is Back In New Sheep’s Clothing

Turkish Hizbullah is back — in a new guise as a political party, Huda-Par. Hizbullah (not related to Lebanon’s Hezbullah) has been around for a few decades, wreaking havoc of one kind or another.

You Will Not Be Assimilated

A historic meeting and rally yesterday in Diyarbakir brought together PM Erdogan and the leader of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (aka Kurdistan), Masoud Barzani, amid a boisterous show of unity between Turkish Kurds and the Turkish government.

The Stork Brings A Democracy Package

At long last, the democracy package has arrived, the nation breathlessly examining it in its crib and arguing about whether it resembles the AKP or whether, as the prime minister claims, it was engendered by “international human rights, the European Union acquis and the works of the Wise People” (a group of public figures nominated to advise the peace process between AKP and the PKK). Whatever the parentage, the package, which will take form through legal amendments or even simply administrative adjustments, offers some important changes.

The Gezi Snowball: What A Difference A Week Makes

Like a snowball rolling down a hill, state violence has managed to unite groups that in the past believed they had very little in common, or were at odds with one another.

Gezi and the Kurds

And here is an update on the Turkish situation from The Economist. During the protests, The Economist writes, the PKK-AKP peace process slipped from sight and now seems to be in danger. Jake Hess reports in Foreign Policy on his interview with PKK military leader Murat Karayilan, chairman of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella formation that encompasses the PKK. He is the man on the PKK side of implementing the peace agreement.

Turkish Births 2012: By the Numbers

The Turkish Statistical Institute has published its newest 2012 data on births. Women are giving birth later, the fertility rate has risen to just below the rate required for replacement of the existing population, and women in parts of Turkey’s impoverished largely Kurdish east are giving birth to twice as many children as those in the developed western part of the country.

The Economic Rationale For Peace in the East

Forbes represents the AKP-PKK rapprochement as a sound business model. I’m not sure about the article’s link to demographic trends, given PM Erdogan’s pronouncements that women should have three or more children. Maybe he means women in western Turkey, not Kurdish women. When prosperity does come to the East, we can expect Kurdish birth rates there to fall as well, just as they have in the west. Women want to share in the new opportunities.

What Next For The PKK?

rapprochement between the Turkish government and the PKK (here) and the position taken by various groups, parties, and actors vis-a-vis this process. This is an important process for Turkey and for the region, but is fraught with the possibilities for wrong steps and failure. To help the process along, Tuncel suggests that international powers that, she writes, have meddled in these affairs before, should now step up to the plate and help solve them…