Political Violence in Turkey
Intensified political violence in Turkey between various Kurdish groups and Turkish security forces exacerbated by spillover from the Syrian civil war
Peace talks between Turkey’s government and the militant Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) have stalled since a ceasefire began in March 2013. PKK members have been refusing to withdraw from Turkey to Kurdish Iraq, and their primary objective is to establish an autonomous Kurdish state.
This has been exacerbated by the spillover from Syria’s civil war into Turkey and other neighboring countries. Syria’s Kurds—under the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG)—have ties to the PKK and have secured control of the Kurdish area of northern Syria. In September 2014, the Kurdish-controlled town of Kobane came under siege, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured the city, and the violence has resulted in over 1,200 deaths. Turkey has encountered significant spillover, absorbing over 300,000 Syrian refugees from the border-town.
The alliance between Kurdish fighters has converged in Iraq, where ISIS has advanced toward the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The peshmerga—armed fighters who protect Iraqi Kurdistan—have joined with Iraqi security forces and receive arms and financial assistance from the United States. The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has called for mass mobilization among Kurds to start an “all-out resistance” in the fight against ISIS.
If the Kurds succeed in establishing an autonomous state amid the chaos gripping the region, this could accelerate secessionist movements in other Kurdish areas of the Middle East. Heightened terrorist activity by Kurdish separatists is also a growing concern for the United States, which has designated the PKK a foreign terrorist organization.
- The AKP’s Worldview: Why Turkey Won’t Change Its Foreign Policy
Nuray Atmaca, National Interest
November 5, 2015
- Deadly Ankara Attack Not Enough to Unify a Polarized Turkey
Tim Arango, NYT
October 12, 2015
- Erdogan's Delicate Visit to Brussels
Marc Pierini, Carnegie Europe
September 29, 2015
- A New Generation of Kurdish Militants Takes Fight to Turkey's Cities
September 27, 2015
- Is Civil War Coming to Turkey?
Kemal Kirisci and Sinan Ekim
September 23, 2015
- Allegiances Tested in Turkey’s Broken Peace
Minna Højland, International Peace Institute
August 31, 2015
- Turkey’s Kurdish Guerrillas Are Ready for War
Aliza Marcus, Foreign Policy
August 31, 2015
- Turkey’s War Within
David Kenner, Foreign Policy
August 17, 2015
- Implications of Turkey's War Against the PKK
Soner Cagaptay, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
August 14, 2015
- Kurdish People Fast Facts
- On the KRG, the Turkish-Kurdish Peace Process, and the Future of the Kurds
Henri J. Barkey, Woodrow Wilson Center
- Turkey: Past is Present
Steven A. Cook, Council on Foreign Relations
November 1, 2015
- Turkey. At War. With Itself.
Steven A. Cook
October 12, 2015
- The Time of the Kurds
- Inside the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
Greg Bruno, CFR Backgrounder
- The Iraqi Kurdish Question
Lionel Beehner, CFR Backgrounder
- A Conversation With Masoud Barzani
May 8, 2015