A Two State Solution for Turkey?
by Daniel Greenfield
Imagine a European Union member nation which represses an ethnic minority that makes up a fifth of its population. Now imagine the EU being forced to take sides in a domestic civil war within its own union in which ethnic cleansing is the order of the day. That is the fate awaiting the EU if it admits Turkey as it is.
Turkish intolerance of ethnic minorities resulted in the Armenian genocide. And in the ongoing repression of its Kurdish population. Turkish prisons are full of Kurdish political prisoners, some who have done nothing more than use the Kurdish language in the wrong place or sing a Kurdish song. Kurds have fought back against Turkish state repression with a political and militant struggle. And despite what Turkish authorities are telling their European counterparts, that struggle is not over.
The same elections that gave the Erdogan regime another term, also racked up political victory for Turkey’s Kurds.
Meanwhile chaos in Iraq and Syria may be setting the stage for Kurdish independence in both those countries. Iraq’s Kurds already enjoy partial autonomy. Should Syria’s Kurds achieve full or partial autonomy, then Turkey will be left to stand alone in its isolated policy of denying Kurdish rights.
From bombings by PKK militants to marches and political activism in occupied Northern Kurdistan, it is increasingly clear that there is no way forward for Turkey except through political autonomy in Northern Kurdistan. The Erdogan regime has filled its prisons and staged incursions into Western Kurdistan in Iraq. It has even been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. But the Turkish perpetuation of the cycle of violence has not changed the determination of the region’s Kurds to win their independence.
The Kurds remain a ticking time bomb inside Turkey. And no responsible European leader can accept Turkish entry into the EU until the Kurdish situation is resolved. Slightly relaxing the oppressive cultural restrictions is not enough. It is time that the Erdogan regime be made to understand that it faces a choice between maintaining the occupation of Northern Kurdistan and joining the community of nations.
After a generation of fighting the PKK, Turkey is no closer to defeating it. The PKK is not going away and neither is the dream of Kurdish independence. If the Erdogan regime wishes to maintain its borders in the face of Kurdish independence in Western Kurdistan, then it will have to negotiate with the same leaders it has been throwing in prison. Only by allowing an autonomous Kurdish state within the borders of occupied Northern Kurdistan, will Turkey gain stability and peace.
Accepting Kurdish autonomy in Northern Kurdistan [Turkey Kurdistan] will allow Turkey to avoid a full fledged civil war and a two state solution which will see portions of its territory annexed to Kurdistan. While the Erdogan regime is confident that Europe and the rest of the world will continue turning a blind eye to its repression of the Kurds, there is no doubt that this will change in the event of a civil war. The world will not stand by and witness another genocide carried out by Turkey. And it will certainly destroy Turkey’s prospects for EU membership.
Autonomy or a two state solution is in Turkey’s own best interests as well. Kurds have a higher birth rate than ethnic Turks do. Almost double. And that means that if Turkey fails to separate itself from the larger portion of its Kurdish population– then all of Turkey will eventually be Kurdistan.
Ending Turkish occupation of Northern Kurdistan will also leave the Turkish economy in a better competitive position and reassure international observers concerned about its stability. It will also end the need for cross-border incursions which will sooner or later lead to war.