Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question


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Erdoğan’s retaliation

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Turkey’s Persistent Kurdish Question

The anti-military attitude of the JDP leadership was due to the February 28 process, which resulted in the criminalization of all Islamic movements. This helped the PKK to distance the government from the suggestions of the military. The leadership of the PKK is thought to have met in northern Iraq and decided to spread the attacks to soft targets in different sectors of the population so as to create a wedge between ethnic Turks and Kurds. Moreover, the PKK is known to have had access to Iraqi military armaments.

The new, integrated policy of Kurdish assertiveness has created a major backlash within Turkish society and among state institutions. Thus, Islamic and Kurdish groups pursued a major campaign against the passing of an anti-terror law.

Who's behind the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics?

Aside from the general anti-war attitude of the Turkish public and images of Iraqi civilian deaths -- many caused by the U. Many Turks even believe that the United States is using the PKK against Turkey to keep the country out of the restructuring of Iraq, a way of punishing Turkey for its refusal to cooperate in the Iraqi invasion.

In fact, it appears that part of U. Senate in the type of conditional aid given to Turkey. However, while attempting to express his thoughts on the subject, he has further distanced himself and his party from both the state institutions and the PKK-led Kurdish actors.

Previously, Turkishness had been more of a state identity than an ethnic one.

Turkey's Kurdish Problem

But Erdo—a has also declared that there is room for ethnic Kurdish and Turkish identities within the concept of citizenship. He has hesitated to name this citizenship Turkish. This is a bold declaration, since historically Turkishness has been the only acceptable identity.

This gap between the two speeches indicates his lack of understanding of the problem. Erdo—a differentiation of primary and sub-national identities has further aggravated the suspicion toward him. Moreover, within the JDP parliamentary group, there are also conflicting views. Erdo—a has started to favor primary vs.

Noble as they might be, Erdo—a raw ideas appear to have created more problems than solutions.

He has been sharply criticized by state institutions, including almost all opposition parties. The military believes that the debate over primary versus sub-identity will erode national Turkish identity.


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We can foresee today that the political side of globalization can bring more harm than good through eroding the concepts of nation-state and sovereignty. It is clear that there is no shared language between the military and the government to discuss the Kurdish question. The last NSC meeting of focused on the new debate that Erdo—a has initiated over primary and sub-identities. Erdo—a has been trying to stress the Islamic and citizenship aspects in order to redefine nationhood and undermine its Turkish aspect. He has constantly shifted his position on the issue, however, apparently influenced by his close advisers.

Opening up the unitary state structure to debate is unacceptable. Therefore, our Constitution cannot be changed on this, and bringing the unitary structure of the state up for debate, which is stipulated in unalterable Article 3 of the Constitution, is unacceptable. The recent New Year statement of the president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, focused on the debate initiated by Erdo—an over primary versus sub-identities. He claims to be capable of solving the Kurdish problem, but he also rejects any legal changes that would work in the direction of a solution, such as allowing ethnic Kurdish representation in the parliament by reducing the 10 percent threshold law—elaborated below.

New Book: Understanding Turkey’s Kurdish Question

One of the major debates of related to the Kurdish question has to do with the 10 percent threshold law for Parliament. This law requires parties to receive 10 percent of the vote before they can send representatives to Parliament. It has, in essence, deprived over 45 percent of the electorate of parliamentary representation 35 and is, thus, a barrier to further democratization in Turkey. Many observers, including the EU, are critical of this high threshold. By opposing any changes in the threshold law, however, the JDP appears to be seeking to prevent the center right, and thus additional ethnic Kurds, from being represented in the parliament.

It is true that those who were elected from the JDP represent ing the Kurdish regions were all Kurds and, thus, there is ethnic Kurdish representation in Parliament, but such representation is now led by JDP politics. It has, in essence, muffled the major voice of the Kurdish electorate. However, the DTP is very popular among politically conscious Kurds who stress separate identity and demand the redefinition of nationhood along with constitutional changes. The establishment in Turkey has thus denied parliamentary representation to ethnic Kurds in support of the DTP.

Aside from the 10 percent barrier, the government has taken a number of positive steps to liberalize the Kurdish TV and radio stations. Due to the pressures of the EU membership process, Turkey had already changed its laws and allowed limited broadcasts in Kurdish and other minority languages, and state TV has been airing programs in two Kurdish dialects for half an hour each week. Although this decision allows only 45 minutes a day of Kurdish broadcasting, it is still a major step for Turkey. Ankara has been calling on the Danish authorities to close it down. After the decision was made, dozens of private language schools were opened, only to eventually close due to lack of interest and financial problems.

The Kurdish question today is international.

Erdoğan’s aggression against Turkey’s Kurds—it’s personal

The United States and the EU are calling on Ankara to declare a general amnesty for PKK militants; to provide full recognition to Kurdish identity, along with public education; to reduce the 10 percent threshold; and to decentralize political power. However, to obtain the support of the KDP, Turkey had to become involved in the intra-Kurdish politics of Iraq and sent over 2, soldiers as peacekeepers in to stop the conflict between the warring Kurdish sides. After the U. Barzani has openly called on Turkey to declare a general amnesty for all PKK militants.

In spite of high expectations, the JDP government has failed to offer a framework for the solution for the Kurdish question. There are a number of reasons for this lack of political commitment to the problem.


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Neither the party nor the government has sought expert opinion, preferring to avoid open debate on the issue. Thus, the JDP has developed no integrated road map, causing insecurity among ethnic Turks and Kurds alike. By not addressing the problem, it has failed to win the confidence of both the Kurds and the state institutions. Erdo—an also faces a dilemma: Even if the JDP, a party that can claim only percent of the Kurdish vote, were to focus on the Kurdish problem, it would not be able to increase its support among the Kurds since they prefer the ethnic Kurdish parties.

Moreover, the recent erosion in the credibility of the government has further complicated the debate. Erdo—an and his inexperienced advisers are less likely to devise a creative solution to the problem. The public has already been debating the lack of commitment by Erdo—to Turkish identity. Some even think that he has become a hostage to pro-Barzani forces within the JDP. This, in turn, will lead both the public and the military to force the JDP government to prepare the necessary legal framework to fight against PKK terrorism. The JDP government is also unlikely to propose a comprehensive plan to address the Kurdish question in the future due to the conflict with state institutions and Kurdish political actors over the very definition of the problem.

Moreover, the grass-roots base of the JDP is heavily dominated by Turkish Sunnis, Erdo—a real power base, and there is no electoral incentive for the JDP to enter into this controversial domain. Finally, some argue that only external actors could have leverage in inducing the JDP to grant the Kurds more cultural and political rights. This external force could either be the EU or the United States. However, Turks today are less enthusiastic about EU membership due to the anti- Turkish sentiment in major European countries. Kurdish Studies Network Connecting knowledge. Share this: Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to email this to a friend Opens in new window Click to print Opens in new window.

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Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question
Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question
Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question
Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question
Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question Understanding Turkeys Kurdish Question

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