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Fear of growing support for Kurds lies behind Turkey’s new attack

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Ron Margulies from the DSIP socialist group in Istanbul explains Turkey’s latest assault on the Kurds
Issue 2471

Peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdish movement appear to have broken down after the bloodiest summer in many years. 

In the small Kurdish town of Cizre alone, the security forces killed more than 20 people in one week. 

It was put under curfew for no obvious reason. 

Elsewhere in the Kurdish provinces well over 100 soldiers, policemen and guerrillas have died in the past two months.

There had been a ceasefire and no deaths for two years. Meanwhile, negotiations went on between the state and Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the  Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

The PKK leads the Kurdish nationalist movement in Turkey.  

Ocalan was also visited regularly by a delegation of MPs from the Kurdish HDP party, and was allowed to send messages. 

The process culminated in a ten-point protocol laying out broad areas of agreement.

The deputy prime minister and the HDP delegation announced this last February.

It became clear almost immediately that something was wrong.


President Erdogan poured scorn on the protocol. Then permission was denied—and continues to be denied—for any further visits to Öcalan.

With the June general election approaching and the AKP government’s position shaky, Erdogan was pooh poohing the peace process in an attempt to woo the Turkish nationalist vote. If that was the case, it back-fired spectacularly.

The HDP broke through the 10 percent threshold designed to keep the Kurds out of parliament.

It got 80 MPs and stopped the AKP from getting the number of MPs required to form the next government.

The Turkish turn to military operations followed soon after the election. It was Erdogan’s attempt to take revenge and punish the Kurds for the results. 

The setting aside of the peace process and the turn to war has as much to do with the situation in Syria as with domestic developments.

Turkish foreign policy has lurched from one disaster to another in the Middle East.

Turkey has been unable to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-the-making along its Syrian border.


There is already a Kurdish state along the Iraqi border. But Turkey could do nothing about it as the US supported the Kurds. 

Now in Syria, the Kurdish forces are in the US’s good books for successfully fighting against Isis. And here, unlike Northern Iraq, the PKK is in charge.

The PKK remains classified as a “terrorist organisation” in much of the West.

Yet it is in a stronger position than ever, both in the eyes of the US and Europe and militarily.

Turkey’s reluctance to do anything against Isis meant that it was increasingly isolated internationally, while the PKK’s star continued to rise.

This was more than Turkey could stomach. A deal was struck with the US in July. It meant Turkey would play a more active role against Isis in return for being allowed to bomb Kurdish targets, mainly in Iraq.

The return to a military strategy at home was part and parcel of the attempt to push back and weaken the PKK.

But the Turkish state was forced into peace negotiations in the first place because no military solution was possible. They will undoubtedly be forced back to the table.

But they will have caused the unnecessary deaths of Kurdish and Turkish youth. 

International Socialist Tendency statement in solidarity with the Kurdish people

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