Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When Diplomacy Blows

From a Christian Science Monitor story post on August 23, a six day bombing campaign by the Turkish government has killed up to 100 Kurdish Rebels in Iraq, perhaps signaling a shift away from the negotiating table to military means as tensions with the countries Kurdish minority.

In Turkey’s June elections, candidates backed by the Kurds, 20% of the population won 36 seats. However, after several members were barred for parliament for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) related convictions, the Kurdish bloc instituted an ongoing Parliament boycott. For years, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has vowed to redress Kurdish grievances.

The Kurds want greater political and cultural autonomy. The government responded by relaxing restrictions on the Kurdish language and launching a Kurdish state television channel. A backlash among Turkish nationalists has led to increasingly harsh government rhetoric lately, however. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0823/Turkish-bombing-campaign-against-PKK-signals-shift-in-strategy

The Kurds have a right to request some autonomy in their affairs given their history of persecution and the genocidal activities of Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq. I’m very concerned that by bombing away on militants, while at the same time ramping up on the anti-Kurdish rhetoric in order to appeal to the Turkish base.

 You’ll alienate the Kurdish population, driving them into the arms of opportunistic terrorist groups and then you have an insurgency. A negotiated redress with the Kurds, while explaining why you have to carry out bombing campaigns may help to retain a base of moderate Kurds. There is no way to make every nationalist happy, but you can retain the average Turk by attempting to provide him security.

What I would do is provide the Kurds with the increased political and cultural autonomy through mediated negotiations. A program of Kurdish schooling and increased Turkish and Kurdish cultural studies programs in Turkey’s schools. Their cultural rights should be respected throughout all of Turkey, not just a small area of Kurdistan.

 Turkey has multiple groups within its’ borders, its’ time to face the facts. There is no logic or reason to irritating 20% of your population to appease a group of Turkish nationalists unless you want to be a fractured society forever.

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