By: Imran Khushal
Let us assume that it is a bad day and you are on your way to work. But just a while before getting into your office, you accidentally get into a fight with two, let say, insane persons, who are also fighting with each other, simultaneously. What would you do? Obviously, any sane person would let them fight with each other and safe himself, either by running away or taking a secure position.
But you would be surprised to see that Turkey is not opting for any of these options. It is caught between the Kurds and Islamic State who are also fighting against each other but it is neither running away from the trouble nor securing its position.
Instead, it is targeting both and getting targeted by both. And the irony is, the Kurds to whom it is most hostile to are so far, if not the only, the most significant opposition to Islamic State. Islamic State, on the other hand, is mad on Ankara’s role in the Syrian war.
Critiques could say that Since Turkey is not a person so it cannot just run away from the suggestion. It has to deal with the stuff. Agreed, but the away it is dealing with the crisis will do more harm than any good. Because all it is doing; using force. And no matter we approve or disprove the use of force, it is certainly not always a good option in international politics. Countries do use force when required but they also take things on the negotiation table.
Islamic State is a designated terrorist group and certainly what they demand is beyond any country’s capacity to give them on a negotiation table, but why Turkey cannot talk with the Kurds. Not for their sake but for the sake of its own people.
It is understandable that Turkey has its own reasons for not talking with the Kurds but one thing it needs to understand is that PKK or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Islamic State are not the same things. No doubt, Islamic State is a notorious terrorist group and more lethal than the Kurdistan Workers’ Party but it wants complete destruction and lacks clarity of purpose. Whereas, PKK and Turkish Kurds hold grounds and have very straightforward demand.
From a realist perspective, it is out of the question for even the smallest state to cease its control over a part of its territory, no matter how small it would be. And Turkey being a realist would also not leave Kurdish area. History tells that when comes to survival, countries do make hard but rational decisions. For instance, the U.K. went for a referendum over Scotland’s question, which was not easy but crucial.
Turkey, sooner or later, has to consider that what it is doing is not rational. Arresting 41,000 protesters and dismissing another 100,000 from jobs is not the kind of steps a country in crisis takes. This is perhaps the most irrational thing for a country surrounded from three sides to do.
Turkey, if does not change the way it is dealing with the Gulenists, the Kurds and Islamic State will see more violence and more loss. If however, it does change its iron fist strategy it could protect its people as well as restore its economy which is sinking because of terrorism.
Story first published: 14th January 2017