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Thousands of Turkish Troops Deploy to Kurdish Areas

Turkey’s Kurdish problem is once again rearing its most unwelcome head, the FT reports:

The [Turkish] general staff said late on Thursday it had deployed seven battalions – 5,000 troops – to Semdinli, a remote south-eastern area where Turkish authorities announced just a month ago they had successfully concluded a smaller military deployment.

The offensive follows a “rare daytime attack” by suspected PKK militants. The government of Prime Minister Erdogan immediately retaliated with force; he says more than 500 militants have been killed in the past month.

The news casts doubt on Erdoğan’s big, long-standing domestic priority: a new national constitution. This is Erdoğan’s third term as president; he has poured a lot of energy into the effort to adopt a new constitution and bring together the country’s disparate groups, including the Kurds. (Turkey’s current constitution is a 1982 document authored by the army.) The project hasn’t gotten very far. Sticking points include the question of whether Kurdish is a “national language.” And now the escalating domestic violence is putting the project even further out of reach. As Via Meadia said this weekend, the Syrian conflict—and problems with all of its neighbors—means that Turkey will face more trouble in the near future, not less.

As the Islamist government cracks down on the press and denies that there is any such thing as a “Kurdish problem”, the government in Ankara is beginning to look a little bit like a less successful version of the Kemalist semi-dictatorships that ruled the country before the Islamists took power.

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