Waiting for blowback: The Kurdish question and Turkey’s new regional militarism
This article is featured in ORIENT IV 2020
Recent Turkish interventions in parts of Syria, Iraq and Turkey itself look like pushing various Kurdish armed forces and political groupings towards ‘defeat’ via a concerted regional strategy that combines battlefield action with repression and co-optation. But the ‘anti-terrorist’ frame and tactics that Ankara uses in a bid to solve its Kurdish problem feature many sticks and no compromises to improve Kurdish collective minority rights. It is likely that this approach will inhibit peaceful resistance and fail to reduce support for armed groups like the PKK and PYD despite their own authoritarian practices. Moreover, Turkey’s new regional militarism risks escalating conflict across the Middle East because of the complex international and transnational contexts in which Ankara’s interventions take place.
Erwin van Veen is a senior research fellow at Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit, where he leads a team that analyses the political economy of conflict in the Middle East. His own work examines the political use of armed groups in processes of state development and geopolitical conflict.
Engin Yüksel is a research associate at Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit who focuses on Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden where he researches Russia’s historical and contemporary approaches to warfare.
Haşim Tekineş was a junior researcher at Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit and is also a student at the University of Leiden.
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