Regional Security

The Kurdish question dominates Turkey’s political agenda again, this time through low-intensity urban warfare. Just a year ago, a peace deal between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkey seemed attainable, but the situation has deteriorated since the summer of 2015. The government has not sufficiently appreciated how the Kurds’ gains in Syria and Iraq have become the reference points of the Kurdish movement in Turkey. Recent fighting has resulted in the further consolidation of the Kurdish movement around the PKK, which bodes ill for the future of Turkey and the Kurdish movement in general. This vicious cycle can only be broken by the mutual accommodation of Turkey and the PKK on Syria and Turkey’s Kurdish regions. Turkey will need to cease to question the Syrian Kurdish gains and look for some kind of modus vivendi with this entity; the PKK must reciprocate by terminating its urban-warfare strategy in Turkey

A truism that is valid for almost all revolutions – including the English, French, and the European revolutions of the mid-nineteenth century, the Iranian Revolution and east European revolutions after the Cold War – is that every revolution has an associated counterrevolution. A common thread through most modern revolutions is that they expressed the desire of the people in a nation to restrain the modern state either by demanding constitutional rights and democracy, confronting authoritarianism and the hegemony of the ruling elite, or by demanding a just social system that would be based on the redistribution of economic burdens and wealth. The success of a revolution, however, has never been guaranteed. In the past few decades, the countries that have experienced relatively easy transitions to democracy have been those that had been part of broader regional systems, or which had received support from regional bodies such as the European Union. Even such countries were not always spared counterrevolutionary retaliations.

Political developments after the July 3rd coup in Egypt must be evaluated by taking into account the new character of coups d’état in the post-Cold War period. As a ‘network’ coup, carried out with the active participation of civilians from different sectors in the process, the coup annulled the possibility of the ‘engagement’ and ‘withdrawal’ of the Egyptian military from the system. Without the withdrawal of this entire network, which will be an utterly onerous task, the Egyptian system may only replicate what was once Turkey’s fate, a tutelary democracy, and that only in the long haul. In the meantime, Egyptian President Sisi will have to walk a tightrope to satisfy the demands of three parties: external pressures for economic liberalization and stability, the Egyptian military-as-institution, and his domestic constituency. The logic of the coup as a politicizing, destabilizing, and paranoia-breeding act, however, may defy all these purposes.

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