"Is Turkey heading to partition?"
Michael Rubin @mrubin1971
August 28, 2015 2:09 pm | AEIdeas
Malaysia and Singapore. Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Czech Republic and Slovakia. Yugoslavia. Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo. Indonesia and East Timor. Sudan and South Sudan. Many countries which once swore they would uphold their territorial unity have acquiesced to partition. Turkey may be the next.
The Turkish government, its military, and Turkish diplomats may deny any implication that partition could be Turkey’s fate, and US officials will do so publicly, but behind the hot denials, it seems increasingly likely that some sort of division will be the second order effect of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s cynical drive toward autocracy.
It is now clear that Erdoğan’s much ballyhooed interest in a peace process with the Kurds was motivated less out of a desire for peace and more for electoral gain. Erdoğan hoped that he could leverage Kurdish support to provide a deathblow to Kemalism while at the same time providing Erdoğan with the support he would need to change the constitution to solidify his position.
When the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) agreed to a ceasefire in 2013, they were in a strong position: They controlled territory in Hakkari and southeastern Turkey, and had growing overt support among Turkey’s Kurds. Years of purges and arrests of the top brass by Erdoğan had left the Turkish Army demoralized and a shadow of its former self. Indeed, the Turkish military has in just over a decade gone from being among NATO’s fiercest and capable to little more than a banana republic level of competence. The PKK also had nothing to lose. Imprisoned since 1999, Turkish authorities had long declared PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan irrelevant. But, by seeking to negotiate with Öcalan, Erdoğan affirmed his relevancy as the predominant Kurdish politician.
Erdoğan’s buffoonery also has had a price. Diplomats may favor stability over change, but Turkish support in the international community is no longer solid. The list of places where Erdoğan has made himself persona non grata is long. He is not welcome in Egypt, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia.....