Showing posts from March, 2013

Turkey's Troubled Neighborhood

Which of the countries on this map have great power and wealth?

Every country on this map except for Turkey and Russia has been diminished by economic, war, and internal politics. And at the center of this regional mess, Turkey at the moment is a giant. Also, one very important element is missing from the map: at the north end of war-torn Iraq is the Kurdistan Region, consisting three northern provinces of Erbil, Dohuk, and Suleimaniye. Oil rich and for the moment unified, it is not-so-quietly forging a "strategic relationship" with Turkey. None of this could have been imagined ten years ago.

Whence Turkey' success?

 2Turkey is ruled by an enigmatic figure, Prime Minister (perhaps soon to be president) Receb Tayyip Erdoğan. He is a man with two abiding interests: religion and power (Turkey's and is own). One is reminded of Ahmet Zog of neighboring Albania (1895 - 1961) who led his country first as prime minister, then as president, then as king. One major difference is…

The Turkish Army: Midwife of Kurdish Nationalism

No matter how one feels about Turkish nationalism, the Turkish Military, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, and Kurdıstan, it seems certain that the current emergence of Kurdish nationalism could not have been achieved without the unwitting help of the Turkish military. After nearly a century of sacrificing the lives of thousands of young Turkish soldiers, the army finds itself further and further removed from achieving its goal of defeating the Kurdish insurrection.

The tipping point - political, not military - may in retrospect be seen as the disastrous military blunder on December 29, 2011 when the Turkish air force killed a group of at least 34 young Kurdish smugglers from Uludere who were carrying heating oil and cigarettes from Iraq to their homes in Turkey. The claim was that the military had intelligence that this was a group of armed PKK fighters heading into Turkey to carry out a military raid. Many Kurds rejected this explanation, the Turkish gove…

Indians and Kurds

Indians and Kurds Chief Sitting Bull and Sheikh Said Alcohol and Oil
Chief Sitting Bull   1831 - 1890Sheikh Said1865 - 1925 Indians In the nineteenth century a great group of tribal, semi-nomadic people inhabited the American west. They had been in the east as well, but as the colonialists invaded the Atlantic seaboard and then moved inland, the Indians were pushed to the west. Throughout the nineteenth century a great struggle between Indians and the white settlers let to the near extinction of the native Americans. Millions died or were forced onto reservations in what has been termed the American Holocaust. [Forgive the use of the word Indian to refer to Native Americans. In the context of the institutions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it seems appropriate.]
Kurds The similarity of the situation with the tribes of the Kurds and the settled Turks of the Ottoman Empire, and later the Turkish Republic is striking. But there are differences as well. The Indians were almost wi…
This is a story about women in villages in Armenia. It contains thoughts that could apply equally well to women in villages in Turkey and the Kurdish lands. This is posted the day after Women's Day and shows similarities across historical enmities and divides.