September 14, 2015 | Quote

Can Turkey Pull Back From Brink of Civil Conflict?

“Turkey is on the brink of a civil war.” This is how Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish bloc in the Turkish parliament, the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), chillingly described the spiraling violence that has engulfed Turkey after a two-year cease-fire between rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish army ended in July.

While both sides continue to blame the other for the demise of what promised to be the most hopeful attempt yet at ending the 31-year conflict, the news coming out of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeastern region suggests that Demirtas’ rhetoric may not be entirely overblown. Eric S. Edelman, the former US ambassador to Turkey, went as far as to predict in an interview with Al-Monitor that Turkey might even “be sucked into the vortex swirling around Iraq and Syria,” unless the prevailing political dynamics are reversed.


Any outcome that disenfranchises Turkey’s Kurds can only deepen instability and accelerate the country’s descent into further violence. As Jonathan Schanzer, a senior analyst and a vocal critic of the AKP at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a conservative Washington-based think tank, put it in an interview with Al-Monitor, “Screwing the Kurds would destroy Turkey. If you try to wipe away their wins it's lighting a match and throwing it on the gasoline that’s leaked all over the country. So I think that’s not something that can be done.” The coming days will reveal whether reason will prevail.


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