Subscribe

Why the stalled peace process between Turkey and Kurds could resume

A detente between the Turks and Kurds following the attempted coup may be what the two groups need to resume the peace talks that collapsed last summer.

  • close
    People wave Turkish flags as they take part in an anti coup rally at Taksim square in Istanbul, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Turkey's polarized factions should learn from their mistakes and overcome their antagonism, the main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said during an interview with The Associated Press.
    Petros Karadjias/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The recent military coup and subsequent government crackdown on dissenting Turkish officials, academics, and journalists may have actually helped to heal relations between the Turkish government and the the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), or at least put hostilities on hold.

In the wake of the coup, with the Turkish military left weak and open to attack, the Kurds have been oddly silent – a detente which may be the catalyst needed to resume peace talks.

Ayse Sozen Usluer, the Turkish president's international relations chief, said there has been no policy change toward the PKK, but that the conflict could still be solved politically. "There is always [the] possibility to go back to [the] peace process," Ms. Usluer told the Voice of America.

Since the end of the tenuous peace talks last June, both sides resumed hostilities and hundreds of civilians and fighters on both sides have been killed. The violence destabilized the country and encouraged the resolve of the Kurdish separatists. But during the coup on July 15, the Kurdish population heeded the calls of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Turkish people to take to the streets and stop the military. And since then the weakened Turkish military has only launched one strike against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

While the PKK joined all other political parties in condemning the coup, it also refused to acknowledge Erdogan’s government as democratic.

“There already existed a military tutelage before the coup attempt made yesterday; which makes the current case an attempt of coup by a military faction against the existing military faction,” the PKK said in a statement.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority party, also backed the Turkish government against the military’s actions calling them anti-democratic, but the party was recently excluded from Erdogan’s meeting with parliamentary opposition leaders.

"It's obvious it [the PKK] is holding back to see how all this plays out," Semih Idiz, a political columnist with Turkey's Cumhuriyet newspaper, told the Voice of America. "Now, it would not be too pleased at the fact the president is not willing to meet the HDP leader while he is prepared to meet other opposition leaders, even though the HDP came out against the coup. But I think there is a possibility that the government under these conditions will try and go back to some kind of negotiation process with the Kurds or PKK. And perhaps that is why [the] PKK is laying low at the moment."

While the peace process may not resume in the same form, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim agrees that future negotiations and “consensus-building processes” will likely occur between Erdogan and the HDP, which may benefit the Kurds as well.

"If there is a kind of undeclared cease-fire for some time, it may be easier to actually include them [Kurds] in the process, as well," Soli Ozel, an international relations expert at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, told Voice of America.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK