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IS is not the Anti-State

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The Islamic State, or IS, is a non-state actor which has quickly managed to invade and occupy large swaths of territory straddling the border of two established nation states.  It declared its allegiance not to a political or military leader but to self-declared Caliph, a religious leader. IS is unflinchingly brutal in method of war and is a grave threat to the security of all the states in the region.  However it is not, as some have claimed, proof that the concept of the nation-state has failed in the Middle East. The organization’s name change from ISIS to the Islamic State was not an arbitrary rebranding.  The world needs to start treating IS as a territorial-based organization; a proto- nation-state where ethnicity has been replaced by religion as the national identity marker.

The current manifestation of the group can be roughly compared to the Taliban in Afghanistan .  Unfortunately, IS has also learned from many of the mistakes of the Taliban made while attempting to govern Afghanistan.  IS has imposed brutal rule based on its own interpretation of Islamic texts while simultaneously installing a bureaucracy, institutions and law-and-order in an area that has enjoyed few of these luxuries since the Syrian civil war began.  IS has also broken from the Taliban model in centralizing its religious leadership.  The spiritual leader of the group has declared himself the Caliph of all Muslims, the successor to the prophet Mohammad.  Despite its declared universal religious and political ambitions (some members of the group have asserted that the group has ambitions to expand its reach as far as Istanbul) the realities of holding and controlling territory has begun, as Jeremy Shapiro of Brookings puts it, to change both the governors and the governed.  In short, IS is following the Weberian model and transitioning from a charismatic, revolutionary organization into a routinized, centralized and bureaucratized state.

Establishing itself as a national instead of transnational, revolutionary organization makes IS less of a threat to Western states, but not necessarily to bordering states like Turkey.  Therefore, while containment might be a reasonable strategy for the US, it is in Turkey’s best interest for IS to be “degraded and destroyed.”  The establishment of the IS proto-nation, as opposed to a decentralized terrorist organization, makes it more vulnerable to traditional tactics for weakening a pariah government.  IS’s ability to govern the territory it has seized must be interrupted by restricting the group’s access to capital, new recruits, resources and infrastructure.  Turkey has already taken steps in this direction, cracking down on oil smuggling, a major sources of revenue for the group, and the movement of foreign would-be jihadists.  Despite the fact that it is reluctant to do so, Turkey needs to allow the international community to help it further monitor the movement of people and goods across its borders.  The efficacy of cutting off of supplies to governments via sanctions and trade restrictions for purposes of weakening governments is highly debatable.  In this case however, as the IS government let alone state has barely been established and its popularity is strongly tied to its ability to provide services and stability, their likelihood of making an impact is much greater.

Even if Turkey does not get involved militarily (the domestic political price of doing so is likely prohibitively high) for its own long term benefit it needs to do everything it can to support countries who are willing to carry out military operations.  Turkey also needs to get over its unreasonable fears of Kurdish autonomy in Syria and do more to support the multiple Kurdish groups that are bearing the brunt of IS’s assaults.  Though directly supplying weapons is again politically out of the question, Turkey needs to be open to providing desperately needed non-military supplies as well as allowing Kurds to enter or re-enter Syria and Iraq in order to fight IS.  Supporting the Kurds is critical for both halting the expansion of IS as well as maintaining the PKK ceasefire within Turkey.  Many Kurds and members of the PKK in particular believe Turkey is favoring and supporting IS to the detriment of the Kurds.  Whether or not this is true (and most experts agree that Turkey is not supporting IS) PKK leadership is threatening to break the current ceasefire and take up arms against Turkey once again.  This would be disastrous for both Turks and Kurds and the Turkish government needs to do everything it can to (re)make peace with Kurds both in and outside its borders.

IS’s location straddling the former border of two states will most likely work against its ability to hold and govern its proto-state.  The Taliban were largely left to themselves, and therefore was able to control Afghanistan for a decade despite its unpopularity, until the September 11 attacks because their brutal state was confined inside the established borders of one nation-state.  As weak as it is, Iraq’s central government still exists and is still committed to the territorial integrity of the Iraqi nation-state.  IS would have to conquer all of Iraq or convince the Iraqi government into agreeing to a truce, both of which still look unlikely at this point.  On the Syrian side, Assad would probably be fine with IS taking over rebel held territory as long as his government was allow to hold onto its much-shrunken kingdom.  However, it is unlikely that the multiple rebel groups will all agree make a similar concession and will continue to fight to hold on to the territory they control as well as to regain the territory held by IS.

There are no easy solutions for dealing with IS, it will take a combination of military strategies as well as continued international cooperation and coordination over a lengthy period of time.  See the links below for additional useful discussions of the problem of IS from a Mid-East analyst perspective, some of which I drew on for my discussion above.

Brookings: What is ISIS’ strategy?

David Motadel: The Ancestors of ISIS

Zenonas Tziarras: The Geopolitical Impact of ISIS: Actors, Factors, and Balances of Power in the Middle East

Carnegie Europe: What on Earth is Turkey up to?

Michael Koplow: The Politics of the Anti-ISIS Coalition

Aaron Stein: Turkey and the US led anti-IS coalition: Ankara is doing more than People Think

Nathan Brown: Avoiding old mistakes in the new game of Islamic politics

Marc Champion: Turkey’s Complicated Position on Islamic State

Henri J. Barkey: How the Islamic State took Turkey Hostage

William McCants: State of Confusion: ISIS’ Strategy and How to Counter It (Did not read this piece prior to writing the above, but has a similar thesis to my post)

Also see these excellent background stories:

Piotr Zalewski: Why Islamic State Wants to Conquer a Kurdish Border Town

Piotr Zalewski: How Islamic State Wages War

David D. Kirkpatrick: ISIS’ Harsh Brand of Islam Is Rooted in Austere Saudi Creed

New York Times: Turkey Inching Toward Alliance With U.S. in Syria Conflict

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Turkey still has a Refugee Crisis

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Some very harsh light has been cast on Turkey and its malignant neglect of its ISIS problem over the past week.  Turkey joined the US led coalition against ISIS only to almost immediately backtrack.  Whether or not this was the right decision for Turkey to make, and in the long term I believe it is not, is complex and the subject for another blog post.  In addition, investigative reports,  in Newsweek by A. Christie Miller and Alev Scott and in the New York Times today by Ceylan Yeginsu, have made it clear that ISIS has successfully convinced thousands of vulnerable Turks and Turkish Kurds to join their nascent state.  Miller, Scott and Yeginsu’s reporting has not only proven that Turkey’s boarders remain dangerously porous but also reveal that despite Turkey’s notorious internet censorship and surveillance the Turkish government has neither been able to identify  potential ISIS recruits nor stop ISIS propaganda. Why Turkey has not stopped virtual ISIS infiltration is again the subject for another blog post.

Turkey’s undoubtedly serious ISIS problem has diverted attention from the fact that is still also facing a serious, and continually growing, refugee crisis.  In addition to the more than a million Syrian refugees already residing in Turkey, ISIS’s rampage through northern Iraq has driven yet another wave of refugees into Turkey, the Yazidis.

The vast majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey are outside of the highly lauded refugee camps, living mostly in Turkey’s southern cities or in Istanbul.  Syrian refugees have swelled the population of cities like Reyhanli, Killis and Gaziantep.  Despite the largely welcoming attitude of the Turkish population toward the refugees, recently tensions have been rising.  In August there were violent anti-Syrian protests in Istanbul and riots targeting Syrians went on for several days after a Turkish landlord was murdered by his Syrian tenant in Gaziantep.  In order to try to prevent even more Syrians from entering the country, Turkey has encouraged the building of refugee camps just inside the Syrian border.  The conditions in these camps are decidedly worse than the camps located inside of Turkey.

After Kurdish fighters pushed back the ISIS invaders which had displaced and killed thousands of Yazidis, members of this religious minority began fleeing over Turkey’s southeastern border.  Official estimates put the number of Yazidi refugees at 16,000.  Camps are being set up for this new refugee group but like the Syrians many find themselves living either in ad-hoc shelters or in camps inside Iraq.

Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority whose religious beliefs are widely misunderstood.  Yazidis follow a syncretic religion that is based on pre-Islamic, Pre-Christian Zoroastrian beliefs.  They speak Kurdish dialects and most (but not all) consider themselves to be ethnic Kurds.  Muslim Kurds for their part appear to embrace Yazidis as their ethnic kin, fighting heroically to allow trapped Yazidis to escape from the barren Sinjar mountain and even training Yazidis who volunteered to fight against ISIS.  Kurds inside Turkey have gathered donations and personally delivered necessities to Yazidi refugees.

The Turkish government is already overwhelmed trying to manage the Syrian refugees inside its borders.  It needs a new strategy in order to effectively manage and accommodate a vulnerable refugee group like the Yazidis.  I wrote an unpublished policy paper last fall addressing the issue of Turkey could better accommodate other ethno-minority refugees, specifically the Alawite and Alevi refugees from Syria.  The data is somewhat dated, but the essential argument I make still stands.  In brief, I assert in this paper that the most productive and efficient plan of action for Turkey regarding minority urban refugees is to work with Turkey’s own indigenous Alevi and Alawite minority communities to provide services to these refugee groups.  This proposal is doubly beneficial.  It not only addresses the problem of these under-served refugee groups who are hesitant to ask for assistance directly from the Turkish government but also, in working together to address the needs of refugees, it also would build trust between the Turkish government and its long marginalized Alevi and Alawite citizens.

This proposed plan of action can be directly translated for the current situation of Yazidis, who have taken refuge in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast provinces. Kurdish municipalities and individuals have been providing aid independently but do not have the resources to deal with a crisis of this scale in the long term.  The Turkish central government on the other hand has the resources but not the contacts on the ground.  In order to address this crisis effectively, the two need to work together.  Additionally, the Turkish-Kurdish peace process, while not yet broken, has stagnated.  Partnering with local Kurdish authorities and civil society organizations to asses and address the needs of this latest group of refugees would be just the kind of good-will initiative that the peace process so desperately needs right now.  The Turkish government needs to set aside its phobia of everything Kurdish (read: anything with the remote possibility of being affiliated with the PKK) and directly engage with all willing partners in order to both manage this crisis and demonstrate that there can be a lasting peace between Turks and Kurds.

However, I can almost without a doubt predict that Turkey will continue its current plan of action, or lack there of, regarding both Iraqi and Syrian refugees.  Over the past year Turkish efforts to address both Sunni and minority Syrian refugees have flatlined.  The only discernible change stems from disconcerting reports that urban refugees, particularly those begging on the streets, have been rounded up and sent to camps against their will.  I have yet to see any investigative reports regarding these camps, if they do indeed exist.  I certainly hope that when the current crisis cools down that both the Turkish government and the media will realize that the Syrian refugee crisis is turning into a permanent population displacement.  Sending refugees to camps is not a long term solution, no matter how good the conditions in said camps may be.  Major policy changes, such as issuing work permits for refugees, need to be paired with creative grass-roots based solutions in order to prevent Turkey’s refugee population from becoming a major, and likely long-term, social, economic and political burden.

Written by ataturksrepublic

September 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Reaching a Real Settlement

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In an article yesterday, Claire Berlinski commented on the eerie and depressing similarities between the Gezi protests last year in Turkey and the ongoing protests in Ferguson, MO.  Indeed,  there is a trend in the images produced by protest movements- clouds of tear gas, police in armor and choking but defiant citizens.  The post 9/11 world have given rise to the nearly universal militarization of police forces.  Whether recent protests have taken place in an autocracy, democracy, or one of the many semi-democracies, police have again and again erred on the side of excessive force.

Both Ferguson and Gezi are examples of a dangerous world-wide trend in law enforcement.  However, the demands and demographics of the protesters in these two cases actually have little in common.  A more apt comparison to Ferguson in the Turkish context would be the intermittent and chronic protests by Kurds against government repression, particularly the building of gendarme outposts, in Turkey’s Southeast.  Both involve an ethnic and socio-economic underclass that largely inhabits marginal areas.  Both groups have been the target of brutal police repression but are often ignored by the mainstream media.

Of course comparing these two very complex and very different cases of minority repression is dangerously reductive on many counts.  That being said, at this particular moment in Turkish history, Turkish politicians would be wise to take a broad lesson from the history of African-Americans in the US, of which Ferguson is only the latest manifestation.  Turkey is in the midst of a much heralded attempt to finally reach a settlement with its indigenous Kurdish armed movement in return for increased cultural rights for Kurds.  Even if this process reaches the ideal outcome of granting equal cultural and legal rights to Kurds, the residual social and economic discrimination faced will not be erased.  The Turkish government cannot drop its focus on Kurdish issues and concerns once the settlement process is deemed complete.  Even if a formerly second-class group group of citizens is recognized as having full legal parity with the majority, in all likelihood discrimination will continue in practice for many decades to come.  Leaders on both sides of Turkey’s settlement process need to realize that the current legal negotiations are only, and should only, be the beginning.  In the decades to come, social, educational and economic inequalities will have to be addressed in order to truly reach equality between ethnic Kurdish and ethnic Turkish citizens of Turkey.

Written by ataturksrepublic

August 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Turkey’s Options in Iraq

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The ongoing crisis in Iraq has led to an explosion of op-eds and policy pieces discussing the future, or lack thereof, of the Iraqi nation-state and the implications this has for foreign policy-makers.  Steven Cook echoes many thinkers when he warned that Iraq is on the verge of breaking apart.  As he and Nick Danforth rightly point out, the international borders created by Western powers a hundred years ago were largely arbitrary, more so than elsewhere.  Cook sees the eventual break-up of Iraq as practically inevitable given the disunity of it’s various factions and compares it to the former Yugoslavia.  However, as Danforth points out the involvement of ISIS in particular creates the possibility of alliances and shifting borders outside of the confines of ethnic and religious allegiances.

As many have also pointed out, the most likely “winners” in this situation, and the most likely to successfully create their own breakaway state, are the northern Iraqi Kurds.  The Kurdish para-military forces, known as peshmerga, took advantage of the chaos and successfully gained control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.  Kurdish leaders have declared that this is not a temporary security measure and they plan to hold on to the city even if the threat of ISIS subsides.  The Kurd’s ascending power, coupled with their record of stable governance of northern Iraq, has resulted in a number of calls for greater international support of and recognition for the Kurd’s claims of sovereignty.  Dov Friedman and Cale Salih argued that if the US wants the Kurds to help defeat ISIS, instead of simply defending their own territory, the US government needs to pull back on their support of Maliki and all but recognize the Kurds as sovereign in their territory (though, crucially not independent).  Developments today indicate that the Obama administration is taking at least the first half of Friedman’s and Salih’s advice and may be orchestrating the ouster of Maliki.  Similarly, writing in regards to Turkey’s policy options, Michael Koplow suggested that it is “Time for Turkey to Support an Independent Iraqi Kurdistan.”

The foreign policy options for the US regarding Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan are much more numerous and complicated and, frankly, lay outside my area of expertise.  Turkey, bordering both ISIS and Kurdish controlled regions of Iraq and having much less influence over Baghdad has a limited number of routes it can chose.  Koplow’s proposal is bold and well-intentioned but I don’t think it’s an idea whose time has yet come.  It is only a week into the crisis and it is much too early to declare the death of the Iraqi nation-state.  As Danforth points out, ISIS brought a number of parties who were formerly at odds together in the fight against the invasion.  Even if Kurdistan does manage to gain it’s independence as a result of this incident (and I do believe Iraqi Kurdistan has a very good chance of becoming its own state sooner or later) Baghdad will likely remain in control of most of the rest of Iraq in the short to medium term. As Danforth also states, despite the media’s new found interest in discussing the potential for a plethora of new states in the Middle East, the idea that there are “natural” and homogeneous enthno-religious nation-states waiting to be born is a myth.  The idea of the nation-state is surprisingly tenacious, even in states where it was imposed from the outside.  Breakups in the model of Yugoslavia are rare.  If Iraq were to split, I foresee an outcome more akin to either the break-away provinces in Georgia or the bi-lateral split in Sudan.   Ankara should not risk cutting its already stressed relations with the Iraqi government over a pre-emptive declaration of Kurdish independence.  Turkey should of course continue to build ties with the KRG, but its current wait-and-see approach is the best way to keep it’s long term options and political ties open.

This wait and see policy should not be applied to the ongoing ISIS hostage crisis however.  As I wrote earlier, the AKP and Erdogan are at a loss as to what to do and therefore have resorted to their tried and true blame and divert tactics.  Erdogan has even managed to impliment an official media blackout regarding the hostages, even as credible reports claim that 15 more Turks have been captured by ISIS.  The longer the hostages are held, the more likely there won’t be a happy ending to this story.  ISIS is no friend of the Turkish government, despite what pro-government talking heads on Turkish TV may think.  ISIS is ruthless, brutal and stubborn.  Treating them with kid gloves may keep the Turkish hostages alive for now, but does nothing to guarantee their ultimate safe return.  Turkey needs to draw on its ties with Kurdistan and work with the peshmerga, how ever distasteful that may be, to locate and recover their citizens.  This is both the best of the bad political options for the AKP and the best chance for the captured Turks to return home.

Turkey is Losing the Syrian War

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Written by ataturksrepublic

October 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Gezi Continues

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Yesterday a tragic incident provided proof that Gezi is far from over.  Many of the facts surrounding the event are still in dispute, but what is clear is that during the course of a protest in Antakya early Tuesday morning, 22 year Ahmet Atakan died.  His death triggered renewed protests across the country, including Istanbul, Ankara and the AKP stronghold of Bursa.  Istiklal Boulevard in Taksim was once again the scene of police intervention with tear gas and water cannons.

Though eyewitnesses report that the protests were smaller than those at the peak of the Gezi uprising this summer, the renewed clashes between police and civilians is an important and potentially dangerous sign.  Many reports state that Atakan died during a protest related to the previous death of a Gezi protester.  However, some also mention that the protest Atakan participated in was against Turkey’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.  Whether or not Atakan went out with the intention of protesting Turkey’s current and future involvement in Syria, his death is perfectly poised to exasperate an already tense situation.

Atakan’s hometown Antakya is located in a small peninsula of Turkish territory that sticks down like a thumb into Syria.  The area has a proud history of religious and ethnic diversity, even through the periods of ethnic cleansing that homogenized much of the rest of Turkey during the 20th century.  However, the Syrian civil war is putting a strain on both inter-communal relationships and the relationship between the citizens of the province and the Turkish government.  Potentially making this situation even more explosive, Atakan was apparently an Arab Alawite, the ethno-religious group to which Assad belongs.  Most Alawites both in and outside of Syria continue to support Assad’s government, if for no other reason than they fear the consequences for their community if the rebels prevail.  So far the Alawite community in Turkey has largely kept a low profile, but this death could energize the community to lash out against the Turkish government or even Sunni refugees and fighters from Syria.  Resentment of Turkey’s unofficial involvement in the Syrian civil war is not isolated to the Alawite community.  Polls consistently show that the majority of Turks are against further intervention in Syria.  The bombing in Reyhanli earlier this summer, which was assumed to be connected to the Syrian regime, already demonstrated the potential for retaliatory attacks against Syrian refugees in Turkey.

In addition to it’s involvement with the Syrian war, Turkey is also currently confronted with another extremely delicate internal situation.  A few days ago, the much hailed peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK broke down.  The Turkish government has claimed that the PKK has not withdrawn enough of its fighters from Turkish territory and now the PKK has stated that it will halt its withdrawal until progress is made on the issue of Kurdish cultural rights.  Ethnically Kurdish areas generally refrained from participating in the protests this summer.  However, there were representatives of the Kurdish BDP party at Gezi and the movement in general has shown itself to be sympathetic to the issue of Kurdish rights.  If the protests we witnessed on Tuesday result in a revived Gezi movement, Turkey’s frustrated Kurdish minority may find this an opportune moment to revive protests for their rights as well.

The Turkish government has a potentially explosive situation on its hands.  In the case of the Gezi protests of this summer, the repeated use of force by the police encouraged protesters to seek out creative non-violent ways to continue their resistance.  However, if the government chooses to meet minority protesters in Turkey’s south with violence, past experiences demonstrate the potential for prolonged, deadly conflicts to erupt.

Written by ataturksrepublic

September 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Kurds, Occupy Gezi and the Peace Process

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Despite their concurrence with the Kurdish Peace Process in Turkey, the Occupy Gezi protests initially took little interest in the struggle of Kurdish Turks.  Though there were signs of a Kurdish presence in Taksim and Gezi, the vast majority of Kurds have chosen to watch from the sidelines.  However, as the Gezi movement has moved forward it has begun to make some historic connections with the Kurdish movement, even as the Turkish government has begun to retreat from the peace process.

Despite the turmoil in Turkey’s major cities over the past month, steps in the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK have continued on schedule. The “Wise People” commission finished their tour of Turkey and reported back to PM Erdogan with suggestions on how to continue the detente with the Kurds.  The PKK has been busy with step 1 in the process, moving its guerrillas out of Turkey and into the Kadil mountains of Iraq; the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) claims that 80% of PKK fighters have already left Turkey.  As a result the PKK has begun demanding that Ankara institute promised reforms such as the right to Kurdish-language education and lowering the 10% electoral threshold for parties to be included in the parliament.

Despite the unprecedented initiative on the part of Erdogan and the Turkish government to begin this peace process, the past week produced some worrying developments.  In contrast to the BDP, Erdogan claims that only 15% of PKK fighters have left Turkish territory, the implication of course being that the PKK has not fulfilled their end of the bargain.  In addition, he seems to be full out refusing to even consider implementing promised reforms, step 2 in the outlined process.  In a speech last Wednesday, he claimed that the government has “no plans” to lower the 10% election threshold or to provide “mother tongue” education for minorities.  His related pronouncement that “the only official language is Turkish” hearkened back to the Kemalist nationalism that was instrumental in creating the Kurdish resistance and the PKK in the first place.

On Friday, protests over a perceived government violation of the peace agreement turned deadly.  In the largely Kurdish Lice district in the province of Diyarbakir, protesters clashed with the Turkish army over the building of a new gendarme outpost.  One young man was killed and a number of other seriously injured when members of the military opened fire on the hostile crowd. *(eyewitness reports suggest that the government’s version of events exaggerated the violence of the protestors)

This incident is extremely worrying but so far the PKK seems hesitant to retaliate.  Currently the PKK appears to more eager to see the peace process succeed than the Turkish government.  Indeed Turkey’s Kurdish population has much more to lose from the failure of the peace than the Turkish government or average Turkish citizens.  While Turks of all stripes protested in cities across the country over the past month, the Kurdish south-east has remained almost eerily quiet.  Many have interpreted the lack of protests in Kurdish-majority areas as stemming from a desire to avoid giving the government any excuse to back out of the peace process.  There are likely other factors at play as well.  The Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink who is based in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, argues that the Kurds do not feel a need to participate in  the Occupy Gezi movement, even if they sympathize with the protesters.  Their “protest” started with the founding of the PKK and has been ongoing ever since.

In contrast, as the protests have gone on those involved have begun to take more and more of an interest in the Kurdish struggle.  The protests have brought together Turks of all different lifestyles, political affiliations and ethnicities and created an arena for them to not only interact but forge bonds in a struggle against mutual enemies.  The hugely important fieldwork conducted by Turkish sociologist Zeynep Tufekci in the midst of the protests in Gezi and Taksim has documented this culture of pluralism and tolerance.  One of the outcomes of Gezi’s nurturing of plurality is the first time large numbers of Turks are fully comprehending the grievances of the country’s Kurds.  After the incident in Lice, crowds gathered in various locals in Istanbul on Friday night in a solidarity protest.  They applied the same terminology to the Lice (diren Lice) as has been utilized in the Gezi protests and chanted pro Kurdish slogans.  As Tukekci observes “This would have been hard to imagine a month ago.”

A great number, if not a majority of Turks have a negative and even hostile view of Kurds.  They have been raised to believe in the centrality of Turkish ethnic identity to the survival of the Turkish nation-state.  Though Kurds make up the majority of the victims of the Turkish government’s war against the PKK, thousands of Turkish soldiers have also been killed.  Turkey still requires all its young men to complete mandatory military service.  Their military training and experience in the field has served to reinforce the idea that Kurds are the enemy to a generation of young men (and their families).   However, Occupy Gezi has introduced the “other 50%” to the grievances of the Kurds in a very personal way.  It is too early to make any predictions as to how Occupy Gezi will affect the outcome of the Kurdish peace process and vice versa.   The Kurdish cause could very well give the Gezi movement the legs it needs to keep going now that its initial, Weberian “charismatic” stage seems to be coming to an end.  No matter if the Lice protests in Istanbul end up being an isolated incident or not, I am optimistic that the pro-Kurdish protests by Turks is a sign of a cultural shift among at least some elements of Turkish society.  After experiencing a month of insults, violence, and pro-government media coverage, I suspect that the “resistors” and their supporters will have trouble believing the official government line on aspirations of the Kurds and the inherent evil of the PKK.

Written by ataturksrepublic

July 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm