News / Europe

Turkey-PKK Peace Deal Gains Momentum With Regional Implications

Thousands of PKK supporters demonstrate with flags and posters of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, in southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2013.
Thousands of PKK supporters demonstrate with flags and posters of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, in southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Peace talks between Turkey's government and the PKK continue to gain momentum.  With large minority Kurdish populations also in neighboring Iraq and Syria, analysts say those countries could benefit from the peace process economically and politically. But such an alliance could at the same time threaten the integrity of Iraq and Syria by fueling a Kurdish push for autonomy or even independence.

Last month's cease-fire announcement by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in its fight against the Turkish state offers the greatest opportunity for peace in the nearly three-decade-long conflict, according to Sinan Ulgen, head of the Turkish research institute Edam. He says ending the conflict would have important implications not only for Turkey, but the whole region.

 "A Turkey that has settled its own differences with its own Kurds will be naturally more disposed [to] establishing alliances with Kurds in the region, be it in northern Iraq or be it in Syria," said Ulgen. "So, in a way, Turkey [is] becoming an even more assertive, influential and confident player regionally."

Neighboring Iraq and Syria, like Turkey, have significant Kurdish minorities. Ankara has already developed strong economic ties with the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government. Those ties are set to deepen with the prospect of a massive energy deal involving the building of oil-and-gas pipelines that would not only supply energy hungry Turkey, but also distribute Iraqi-Kurdish oil and gas to world markets.

Attila Yesilada, an analyst at Global Source Partners, an Istanbul-based research firm, says peace with the PKK is essential to the deal, and adds such an alliance would solve a major economic and diplomatic headache for Ankara.

"Currently, we are almost completely reliant on Russia and Iran, which are, to say the least, volatile neighbors, if not hostile," said Yesilada. "And both are bound to use gas delivery as a negotiation tool.  But if we get gas from [the] Iraqis we would [have] significantly diversified our energy sources. But the PKK is a major problem unless the current 'peace process' reaches fruition. Such pipelines would be [sitting] ducks and essentially just hostages [to] PKK attacks."

But Baghdad claims only the national government can make such energy deals. Washington has expressed concern about the potential deal, claiming it could threaten the integrity of the Iraqi state by fueling secessionist demands by the Iraqi Kurds.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University acknowledges any deepening of the relationship between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds could pose a threat, but says economic prosperity in Iraqi Kurdistan built on its ties with Turkey could strengthen the latter.

"I hope Turkey and Baghdad will be clever enough to properly use this Turkish presence in the north of Iraq to extend this region of peace and stability towards the south of Iraq. The other way is war," said Aktar.

But in an interview last month, senior PKK figure Zübeyir Aydar claimed the peace process could open the door to collaboration between Turks and Kurds across the region that could even lead to a redrawing of Turkey's borders with Iraq and Syria.

Analyst Ulgen says with the region facing growing turmoil, the repercussions of a Turkish-Kurdish alliance could be significant.

"There [are] going to be implications for the region, especially if we take into consideration that the future[s] of nation-states like Iraq and Syria are very much uncertain and that the turbulence and instability we see today might eventually lead to the disintegration of those nation-states," he said.

The current peace process between Ankara and the PKK is still only in its initial stages, with both sides expressing cautious optimism. But observers point out that reaching such a peace agreement could have far-reaching consequences not only for Turkey, but for the whole region.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More