A View from Turkey: Snap Elections, Kurds, and the Islamic State
September 21, 2015
12:00 pm -
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years, and the party now hopes to win back its majority in November’s snap elections. Much has happened since the June 7 elections. Turkey has opened its Incirlik airbase to coalition forces fighting the Islamic State (IS), but its anti-terror campaign seems to focus predominantly on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rather than IS. The failure of the Kurdish peace process, the escalation of violence within Turkey, and the growing IS threat make Turkey more vulnerable to political and economic crises.
Which scenarios are most likely after the November elections? How will Ankara deal with Kurds within Turkey and across its borders? What role will Turkey play in fight against the Islamic State?
FDD was joined for a timely conversation with Tulin Daloglu, Amb. Eric Edelman, and Aykan Erdemir. The conversation was moderated by John Hannah.
Tulin Daloglu is a former columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse. She has written extensively for various Turkish and American publications, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Middle East Times, Foreign Policy, The Daily Star (Lebanon), and the SAIS Turkey Analyst Report. She also had a regular column at The Washington Times for almost four years. In the 2002 general election, Daloglu ran for a seat in the Turkish parliament as a member of the New Turkey Party. She earned BS and MA degrees in international relations at the Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, and completed an MA degree in journalism and public affairs at American University in Washington, DC.
Ambassador Eric Edelman serves as a senior advisor to FDD’s Turkey Program and is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He retired as a Career Minister from the U.S. Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He served as U.S. ambassador to Finland in the Clinton administration and to Turkey in the Bush administration and was Vice President Cheney’s principal deputy assistant for national security affairs. He has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services, and congressional relations. Amb. Edelman has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards.
Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a non-resident fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015). He served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014). Between 2004 and 2011, Dr. Erdemir worked as a faculty member at Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara where he also served as the Deputy Dean of the METU Graduate School of Social Sciences and as the graduate director of the German-Turkish Masters in Social Sciences.
John Hannah is a senior counselor at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Prior to joining FDD, he served for eight years, during the George W. Bush administration, on the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, including as the vice president’s national security advisor. He was intimately involved in U.S. policy toward Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and on a range of international issues from the Middle East to North Korea to Russia. Previously, Mr. Hannah also worked as a senior advisor on the staff of Secretary of State Warren Christopher and as a senior member of Secretary of State James A. Baker’s Policy Planning Staff. He has also practiced law, specializing in international dispute resolution.