Gezi and the Kurds

The must-read, cutting-edge political blog Jadaliyya has added a Turkey page. Jadaliyya has become known as the site to read for news and analysis of the Middle East. The posts are written by a variety of scholars, many local and many young, as well as respected international voices. The posts are insightful and often take creative and interesting angles quite different from the mainstream media. There are a number of such articles on Turkey posted on the site already. A page devoted to Turkey is most welcome. Muftah.org also has a useful Turkey page.

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. Hess describes Turkey’s previous policy towards the PKK as termination and isolation. Karayilan is more optimistic these days and sees a future in which Kurds are legal and lawful in the cities, engaging in civic activities, not illegal in the mountains. He is not bothered by current Turkish military activity and Cobra attack helicopter flights near the Iraqi border nor by drones flying overhead, as long as they do not attack. That would upset the peace process, but in the meantime, the PKK waits for Ankara to take steps on its side of the agreement: release Kurdish prisoners from jail and revise the notorious anti-Terror law which is at this very moment being put to new use in arresting nonviolent Gezi Park protesters.

Karayilan suggested that more cordial relations with the Kurds would be in the interest of the West. The PKK, for instance, has warm relations with Kurds in Syria.

 “Syrian Kurds have the most secular, modern, and democratic policies in that society. The Kurds are closest to the West. But due to Turkey’s veto, [the West] doesn’t even have relations with them. The armed opposition has a completely Islamist outlook.” But he hinted that ties are improving. “I hear that America and Europe are just now looking at the PYD and Syrian Kurds.

With so much at stake at home and in the region, the AKP government needs to get its eye back on the ball.

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