Conflict in Kurdish-Dominated Regions

Conflict in Kurdish-Dominated Regions

Resumption of conflict in the Kurdish-dominated regions of Turkey and the Middle East


Kurdish areas of Turkey and the greater Middle East could experience increased violence in the coming months. In Turkey, peace talks between the government and the militant Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) have stalled since a ceasefire was agreed in March 2013. PKK members are refusing to withdraw from Turkey to Kurdish Iraq, where Kurds have a semiautonomous state in the northern part of the country.

Perhaps most worrisome has been the deepening ties between Syrian Kurds and the PKK, who want to establish an autonomous state under the pretext of the country’s civil war. Syrian Kurds—which constitute about 10 percent of Syria’s population and control a large area of northern Syria—have been fighting the central government in the ongoing civil war and have now secured definitive control of the Kurdish area of northern Syria.

If the Kurds succeed in establishing an autonomous state, the secessionist movements in other Kurdish areas of the Middle East could accelerate, intensifying ongoing sectarian conflicts in the region.

Heightened terrorist activity by Kurdish separatists is a growing concern for the United States, which has designated the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization and wishes to maintain the territorial integrity of states in the region.

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