#1 Domestic Relations with the Kurds
The Kurds are group of people living in an area in the Middle East located primarily around Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. They have faced a history of political suppression and human rights violations by each of these states. Turkey has maintained a policy to assimilate these people into their own culture; whereas, the Kurds have been trying keep their cultural identity and seek their own autonomous independence. One of the main groups within the Kurds (although not representative of all) is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for Kurdish goals using military force, and is considered a terrorist organization by the Turkey, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. Attempts at peaceful negotiations were gaining within the last few decades, but the war in Syria has made this significantly more difficult.
March 5 – The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hopes to achieve greater support in his potential presidential campaign by showing his ability to shape Middle Eastern policy in Turkey. Coincidentally, this announcement concurs with a letter by Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish military and founder of the PKK. In this letter, Ocalan (from his jail cell) calls for talks of a cease fire and the withdrawal of the PKK from Turkish areas as long as Turkey grants greater rights to the Kurdish people. It is possible that support from leaders with such authority could improve peaceful relations, yet it is also possible that war could intensify if demands are not met.
March 13 – The PKK released a group of captive Turkish soldiers who were being held in Northern Iraq by Kurdish militants. These soldiers were captured in 2011 and 2012, and their release was ordered by Ocalan. Following his earlier indication for peace talks, this shows another favorable sign for arrangements to potentially develop.
Kurdish Inhabited Area
New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul