Erdogan should pursue lasting truce with the PKK

The conflict between Turkey's government and its Kurdish population will only get worse if no agreement is reached. A ceasefire might last this time

Related Topics

Is PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s call for a withdrawal of his fighters from Turkey the beginning of a historic compromise between the Turkish Kurds and the central government? 

Such ceasefires have happened before only to founder because Ankara’s concessions to the Kurds have been marginal and repression has returned after a brief hiatus.

The most hopeful aspect of the new attempt at compromise is that the regional context in which it is happening has changed. Solution to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey is essential if it wants to expand its influence in Iraq and important if it is to do the same in Syria. Turkey now has good relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan, which it once demonised for giving covert sanctuary to the PKK guerrillas in the inaccessible Qandil Mountains on the Iranian border. The Iraqi Kurds are at odds with Baghdad and want to export oil found on their territory directly to Turkey, giving them practical economic independence. A pipeline is currently being built between the KRG and Turkey.

But over the last decade Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has never delivered the practical measures which the Turkish Kurds have been agitating for.

In the past Mr Erdogan’s ruling AKP party has made cosmetic changes but is nervous of being accused of unpatriotic behaviour by the nationalist and secular opposition. Yesterday Mr Erdogan was complaining about minor matters like the absence of Turkish flags at a giant rally in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. This is not a good omen for the future.

Mr Erdogan and his party periodically convinces itself that the PKK is finished militarily and there is no real need for a compromise with it or its imprisoned leader. But over the last decade the PKK has shown that it retains a solid base of support among the Turkish Kurds which means that it can never be eradicated.

If Mr Erodogan does not reach an agreement with the PKK and the Turkish Kurds then the conflict is likely to get worse rather than better. The PKK’s local franchise in Syria controls a series of Kurdish majority enclaves. Most important, Iran and the Syrian government are on bad terms with Turkey and will assist the PKK if it resumes attacks.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little