Thursday, 9 August 2012

Turkey and Syria: The Kurdish Dilemma

Source: Huffington Post

After having virtually squashed the insurgency in a 16-year long war, however, Turkey found the reality on the ground change fundamentally with the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq, following the imposition of a U.S.-led no fly zone there in 1991 and the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Turkey embraced that new fact by forging close ties with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership and investing heavily in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region in a bid to prevent it from fostering Turkish Kurdish demands for greater autonomy or moving towards full independence. The takeover of Syrian Kurdish towns along the border with Turkey by armed Kurds of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian wing of the PKK, confronts Turkey with a similar dilemma for which, unlike in Iraq, it has no ready answers.

Syrian Kurdish assertiveness raises the question whether Turkey can sustain its opposition to the aspirations of the Kurds on its borders, or whether it would be better served by embracing a proactive Kurdish policy that would turn Kurdish nationalism across West Asia to its advantage, as it did in Northern Iraq? Turkish opposition to Kurdish aspirations, moreover, despite its support for the Sunni Muslim opposition in Syria, risks putting Turkey alongside China and Russia in the camp of those opposed to the emergence of a post-Assad Syria that is more democratic and pluralistic.

Author James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer where this story first appeared.

Read the full article Turkey and Syria: The Kurdish Dilemma

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