Recalling Turkey’s Peace Process

three Kurdish women hold signs stating Kurds Want Peace; devastation of urban warfare in Suriçi

About 30 million Kurds live throughout the Middle East in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. The ethnic group represents about 13 percent of Turkey’s population and at least 7 percent of Syrians, and the United States has long backed Kurds fighting extremists in Syria. Turkey and its Kurdish PKK rebels had arranged a ceasefire in 2013. Then civil war in Syria and Kurdish demands for self-rule heightened tensions, helping consolidate power for the AKP Party that runs the Turkish government. A crackdown ensued and ever-increasing levels of authoritarianism fail to deliver peace, explains Ronay Bakan, a 2018-2019 Fox International Fellow at Yale’s MacMillan Center. Bakan offers two recommendations: First, the Turkish state should create more democratic and inclusionary space for all citizens, including the 72 percent who are ethnic Turks and the 28 percent that represent minorities. Second, the country could decentralize some health, education and social services, allowing greater local control. Increasing democratic participation could reduce the need for authoritarian measures and stabilize the country. – YaleGlobal