Turkey and the Kurdish Question: Last Exit Before the Bridge

Özpek B. B., Mutluer O.

IRAN AND THE CAUCASUS, vol.20, no.1, pp.127-141, 2016 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1163/1573384x-20160108
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.127-141
  • Keywords: Turkish Foreign Policy, Kurdish Question, ISIS, Syrian Civil War, Iraqi Kurdistan, PKK
  • Eskisehir Osmangazi University Affiliated: Yes


The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government initiated a peace process with the Kurds in January 2013 to become the first government since 1984 to systematically negotiate with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) instead of using the military against them. Nevertheless, a bloody war restarted after AKP lost its majority in the parliament due to the Kurdish backed Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) success in the 7 June 2015 elections. In the coalition negotiation process, the AKP, which is under the strict control of Erdogan, did not make a serious offer to any of the opposition parties, and Erdogan did not mandate other parties to form a coalition government. Thus, holding a snap election remained the only option. Erdogan's strategy to attract the nationalist voters worked, and the AKP re-gained the overall majority in the parliament by receiving the nationalist votes again. Nevertheless, this was a Pyrrhic victory for the AKP. In addition to the domestic polarization, the new AKP government has needed to deal with the Kurdish Question, which has turned into armed conflict since the 7 June elections, along with re-formulating its relations with the allies of the PKK in Northern Syria and in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Furthermore, increasing activism in the ISIS issue and the "jet crisis" experienced with Russia seems to have complicated Turkey's foreign policy and compelled the AKP to revise its approach towards the Kurdish Question.