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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora