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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora