Kurdish-Turkish rapprochement is on the rocks after Ankara first spent a week watching Kobani slowly fall to ISIS, and then bombed its own Kurds within Turkey. The Financial Times reports:
Turkey has carried out airstrikes against Kurdish militants for the first time since a halting peace process began last year, the latest sign that fighting in Syria and Iraq is fuelling sectarian strife across the border.The strikes by F-16 fighter jets against outposts of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers People party, or PKK, in Daglica, in the mountainous province of Hakkari, follow protests against Ankara’s non-interventionist stance towards Syria that left more than 30 people dead in Turkey’s largely Kurdish east and southeast.
The one major achievement of Erdogan’s rule so far that the West could embrace was the ongoing peace process with Turkey’s Kurds, which looked like it might end that decades-long struggle. Now, after more than a year’s effort, it seems like a lost cause.The Kurds are enraged because of Ankara’s passivity in the face of the ISIS attack on Kobani, a major Syrian Kurdish town on the border with Turkey. Until recently, many thought that Turkey was caught in a predicament of its own making: If it helped the Kurds, it risked antagonizing Islamist-sympathizers among its population; but if it did nothing, it would inflame the Kurds. (And then there’s the importance of its Alevis and the question of what sort of Kurds to help.) It looked like quite the pickle.Increasingly, though, a more cynical explanation seems likely. In 1944, Stalin parked his tanks for two months within striking distance of the Warsaw Uprising, while he let the Nazis slaughter independence-minded Poles by the hundreds of thousands. Only once those Poles who would be inclined to resist him had been utterly crushed did Stalin advance into the city and drive back the Nazis. Is Erdogan doing something similiar in Kobani? As TAI editor Adam Garfinkle discussed in his recent Reddit AMA, there are reasons to think so.If Kobani falls, the Syrian PYD party, which is aligned with the more radical factions of the PKK and is antagonistic to Ankara, could be decimated. Turkey could then move in and impose its own peace, on both the Kurds in the border region in Syria and the PKK at home. It could also use the Syrian refugee crisis as a “humanitarian” pretext to settle large numbers of Arabs in that region, diluting Kurdish power further.All that’s needed is a willingness to tolerate tens of thousands of unnecessary Kurdish casualties.