Independent and cutting-edge analysis on Turkey and its neighborhood

From the Desk of the Editor

From the Desk of the Editor

In this issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ), our authors carefully consider the vortex of catalysts that have inflamed the Kurdish issue – the Syrian quagmire, ISIL terrorism, political polarization in Turkey – and their wider implications for both regional stability and the trajectory of the current conflict in Syria. Our authors underscore the need to revive the Turkey-PKK peace process, which will prevent further setbacks to a coordinated fight against ISIL, as well as...

Süreya Martha Köprülü | 07 March 2016

Inclusive Ways to Peace and Democracy in Turkey

Inclusive Ways to Peace and Democracy in Turkey

Renewed fighting between the the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey, has flung the peace process in this 30-year conflict into doubt and highlighted the urgency of initiating an inclusive political-led process to solve the Kurdish issue. In this article, the author frames her analysis of the current situation around four dimensions: the political terrain in Turkey after two consecutive general elections, the challenges of the problem, a civic...

Gülseren Onanç | 07 March 2016

Syria’s Dark Shadow over US-Turkey Relations

Syria’s Dark Shadow over US-Turkey Relations

Like all conflicts, the Syrian civil war has given rise to its share of unintended consequences. Among them are the emergence of the Syrian Kurds as a force to contend with and the resulting discord between Turkey and the US. Bashar al-Assad’s resilience has frustrated Turkey while the rise of ISIL as a global jihadi threat, has caused the US to re-evaluate its priorities. Turkey remains focused on Assad and preventing the consolidation of the Syrian Kurds whereas the US has allied itself...

Henri J. Barkey | 07 March 2016

Decentralization for Peace in Turkey, Iraq & Syria

Decentralization for Peace in Turkey, Iraq & Syria

Decentralization discussions in Turkey date back to the late 19th century, well before the republican era. However, an objective analysis of the topic remains elusive due to the Turkish state’s fears of partition. In analyzing Turkey’s Kurdish policies particularly since the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the author highlights a critical structural contradiction: while Ankara appears to encourage further autonomy of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), it continues to view Kurdish...

Aydın Selcen | 07 March 2016

Ankara vs. the PKK: Old War, New Strategies

Ankara vs. the PKK: Old War, New Strategies

Since the end of July 2015, Turkey has been mired in a spiral of violence. The escalating clashes between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have shifted to urban settlements. Some suggest that Turkey is moving towards civil war while others assert that all these clashes can still be understood within the terror/counter-terror paradigm. When analyzing the space of clashes, the actors involved, the level of popular support, and some certain thresholds of violence, the author...

Metin Gürcan | 07 March 2016

New Turkey-PKK Peace Talks: An Inevitability Postponed

New Turkey-PKK Peace Talks: An Inevitability Postponed

Since the breakdown of the reconciliation process between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the summer of 2015, the resumption of violence in the southeast has escalated to an alarming degree, threatening to exacerbate both regional instability as well as political polarization within Turkey. Currently, the PKK feels emboldened by its affiliate PYD’s perceived strategic importance to the US owing in large part to its role in the fight against ISIL in Syria....

Nigar Göksel & Berkay Mandıracı | 07 March 2016

US-Turkey Relations at a Breaking Point over the Kurds

US-Turkey Relations at a Breaking Point over the Kurds

Diverging priorities in overlapping regional conflicts – the Syria crisis, the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the role of the Kurds – have been a source of friction in US-Turkey relations. The author highlights the siege of Kobani in 2014 as a breaking point in relations; Turkey’s refusal to join the global coalition against ISIL prompted the US to directly lend support to the Kurdish forces in Kobani. According to the author, there were two...

Tolga Tanış | 07 March 2016

The Kurdish Issue in Turkey: Back to Square One?

The Kurdish Issue in Turkey: Back to Square One?

The collapse of the Turkish-Kurdish peace process and renewed fighting has not pushed the situation back to square one because the Kurdish issue has been institutionalized within Turkish domestic politics as well as regionalized and internationalized by the earlier official governmental talks with Öcalan, other PKK members, and the HDP. Factors that influence the possibility of renewing the peace process include the Syrian civil war, ISIL, Rojava, the United States, Syrian refugees, and the...

Michael M. Gunter | 07 March 2016

How ISIL Advanced Kurdish Nationalism

How ISIL Advanced Kurdish Nationalism

While the media reporting of Syria and Iraq has over the past two years been focusing on the brutality of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), there is a much less reported story that may change the course of history: the rise of Kurdish nationalism. The Kurds, believed to be the world’s largest ethno-national group without their own independent nation-state, have noticed that ISIL may be more than just a curse taking thousands of lives. As an...

Namo Abdulla | 07 March 2016

The Tyranny of the Nation-State

The Tyranny of the Nation-State

In the discipline of international relations, the balance which was expected to be established in the 21st century between the hegemony of the state and social forces has failed to materialize, and the hegemonic structure of the state continues to maintain its supremacy. In nation-states unable to reconcile the conceptual principles of hegemony and the rule of law, the effects of this issue continue to increase and this is the most important reason political and social issues are unsolvable. In...

Süha Atatüre | 07 March 2016

Odd Bedfellows: Turkey and Iran

Odd Bedfellows: Turkey and Iran

As the two major non-Arab powers of the Middle East, Turkey and Iran have, for a long time, walked the fine line between cooperation and rivalry while competing for regional primacy. In this article, the author argues that recent developments have added new layers of complexity to bilateral relations and that the current nature of the Turkey-Iran relationship can be primarily characterized as interactions, contradictions, and their unintended consequences that revolve around three major...

Majid Rafizadeh | 07 March 2016

Turkish Business in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Turkish Business in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), economic development and infrastructure recovery expanded at a monumental pace over the last decade. However, the economic boom also had negative aftershocks, including a significant rise in housing costs, local workers struggling to find employment with foreign companies, and the difficulties faced by the local private sector trying to operate in an emerging economy dominated by the public and oil sectors. In this article, the author argues that ensuring...

Christina Bache Fidan | 07 March 2016

Turkey Caught in the Maelstrom of Syria

Turkey Caught in the Maelstrom of Syria

The recent escalation of armed clashes in southeastern Turkey between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants is indicative of the new, turbulent phase the Kurdish problem has entered. This paper will analyze Turkish foreign policy in Syria with regards to the Kurdish issue; Ankara’s efforts to constrain Kurdish activities in Syria will also be examined. Moreover, further analysis will reveal the ways in which the escalation of Turkish military operations against the PKK is connected...

Pantelis Touloumakos | 07 March 2016

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