News / Europe

Turkey's Peace Talks With PKK Begin to Falter

Kurds sit next to a banner that reads 'government, take steps' after Kurdish rebels gave Turkey a 'final warning' to take steps that would move forward peace talks aimed at ending a 30-year old conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, in Anka
Kurds sit next to a banner that reads 'government, take steps' after Kurdish rebels gave Turkey a 'final warning' to take steps that would move forward peace talks aimed at ending a 30-year old conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, in Anka
Dorian Jones
Before mass protests in June, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was working to end Turkey's biggest problem: the country's Kurdish conflict. But now, efforts by the government to end a decades-long insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, are facing roadblocks.

Earlier this month, Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, warned that the peace process to end the PKK insurgency was in trouble and there was the danger of a return to violence. He said his party was working hard to avoid this.

Some analysts say that in the wake of the government crackdown on the June nationwide protests against Erdogan's style of leadership, the prime minister was distracted by trying to keep his own core constituency together, making him less willing to cede ground to the Kurds.

At present, the government is accusing the PKK of failing to fully withdraw its forces from Turkey, while the Kurds say promised reforms have not been introduced.

Peace proponents

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar of the Carnegie Institute, said there still are powerful forces supporting the peace process, but negative rhetoric on both sides is raising fears of a return to violence.

"Well that is what everybody is afraid of. The important thing there, of course, who will be seen as responsible for the collapse of this process? Because if the PKK is seen as the party responsible for the collapse of the process and it returns to violence then arguably it will get much less support from its regional and international partners. If the Turkish government is seen as responsible then of course then it's going to create a very heavy cost in terms of security impact," said Ulgen.

At the beginning of the year, the Turkish government began talks with Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, in an attempt to end a conflict in which more than 40,000 people have died over three decades. A cease-fire soon followed, as did an announcement the PKK would withdraw its fighters from Turkish territory to northern Iraq. The PKK has given a deadline of September 1st for the government to unveil its reforms.

Ertugrul Kurkcu, a parliamentary deputy for the pro-Kurdish BDP said that even if the peace process collapses, there will not be a return to fighting.

"The PKK is very sincere in their shift of strategy, which means civilian protest is the basic element in the new Kurdish strategy and they will not resort to arms in any sense. Neither in terms of urban guerilla, nor in terms in rural guerilla. Guerilla times are over for the Kurdish movement," said Kurkcu.

Questions about fighting

Some leading PKK rebels based in neighboring northern Iraq, though, allegedly have not ruled out a return to fighting. Analysts say a debate probably is going on within the PKK and the wider Kurdish movement over what to do if the peace process does fail.

Soli Ozel, who teaches political science at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, said any decision also will be colored by regional considerations.

"A lot of things are happening in the wider Kurdish world if you will, with different interests emerging: the Syrian Kurds, Iraqi Kurds, the PKK as a political player. So we cannot just look at the PKK nationally in order to determine what is going on. We cannot really be analyzing the PKK issue independently of what is going on in the wider Kurdish world among the Syrians and Iraqis, as well," said Ozel.

Turkey already shares a border with a semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, while in neighboring Syria, Kurds have taken control of part of the country as the Syrian government battles a broader insurgency. Analysts say that as October and the onset of winter weather has traditionally marked a halt to PKK fighting in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish areas, any resumption of fighting is unlikely until the following spring. That means a window of opportunity still remains for peace efforts.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid