For the United States, Syrian Kurds are reliable boots on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State. Their agenda for autonomy and self-rule in northern Syria, however, is a source of vexation for Turkey. Ankara is worried about the emergence of a Kurdish state along its borders, which could bolster the demands of Kurds within Turkey for greater political recognition. Limitations on Kurds’ right to social and cultural self-expression is now viewed as a major flaw in Turkey’s democratic edifice. Its actions in Syria against the Kurdish forces also undermine the international coalition against ISIS. In return, these factors hamper Turkey’s relations with the U.S.
How can the actors in this regional theater break through the deadlock? In the latest Turkey Project Policy Paper, “Two routes to an impasse: Understanding Turkey’s Kurdish policy,” Ayşegül Aydın of University of Colorado and historical sociologist Cem Emrence of Leiden University explore how “politics of moderation” could offer the most effective solution to the crisis in the region, and discuss how the different actors involved—Turkey, the Kurds, and the United States—should take a more proactive approach, including a willingness to make compromises, in the interest of forging a lasting peace.
On December 5, 2016, the Turkey Project at Brookings will host a panel discussion on new approaches to the “Kurdish issue” in Turkey and its neighborhood. At the event, Ayşegül Aydın will present conclusions from her co-authored paper. Following her remarks, Nicholas Danforth of the Bipartisan Policy Center and Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy will offer their perspectives. The discussion will be moderated by the Brookings TÜSİAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişci.
Associate Professor - Department of Political Science, University of Colorado-Boulder
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