Donald J. Trump's unexpected presidential victory in November 2016 has thrown a curveball into Turkey's difficult relations with the Kurds. What will be the Trump administration's policies toward Turkey and the Kurds? Will the new president continue to support the majority of Kurds in Syria battling ISIS or emphasize a renewal of the NATO alliance with Turkey? Trump's earlier statements that NATO allies should carry more of the organization's financial burdens potentially call into question NATO's future, especially given Trump's avowed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. How will the new administration's stated intention to emphasize business affairs affect its relations with Turkey and the Kurds? Will the Trump administration support putative independence for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)?
It is difficult to predict the actions of any new U.S. president, let alone Donald Trump. He has been all over the map with his statements and claims, only to walk many of them back or simply ignore them when inconvenient. Indeed, Trump's relationship with truth and accuracy is tenuous, often brushing off inflammatory remarks as tough-men's, "locker-room" talk or mere "smack."
Nevertheless, through all the rhetorical fog, one can discern certain broad paths that will affect U.S. relations with Turkey and the Kurds. Trump has expressed a liking for both and proclaimed his desire for them to work together. For example, during a talk about the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, he declared: "I'm a big fan of the Kurdish forces. At the same time, I think we have a potentially — we could have ... potentially — very successful relations with Turkey. And it would be really wonderful if we could put them somehow both together."1
Of course, Trump comes new to all this, as his confusion in 2015 between Quds and Kurds illustrated. This faux pas occurred when the then presidential candidate was asked what he thought about Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps.2 Moreover, once Trump learns the nuances of the multidimensional Kurdish issue, how will his fondness be expressed for the different types of Kurds he will have to deal with in Turkey, Syria and Iraq? As pointed out years ago, from the standpoint of U.S. foreign policy, there are "good" Kurds and "bad" ones.3 However, even in the case of the "bad" Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the challenge of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has led the United States to support a PKK ally, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party/Peoples Defense Units/Womens Defense Units (PYD/YPG/YPJ). In Iraq, the United States actually worked with the PKK to help save the Yezidis when ISIS launched its genocidal attack against them in August 2014. Some might suspect that the terrorist label for the PKK eventually might be set aside, as the United States has already declined to use it for the PYD/YPG/YPJ. Despite Trump's seeming ignorance on all these matters, it would be a mistake to dismiss his ability to learn quickly and then implement.
Donald Trump appears to be more favorably disposed toward Turkey than was his predecessor, Barack Obama. If so, he will have to deal with Turkey's three main problems with the United States: (1) ending cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish PYD/YPG/YPJ; (2) extraditing Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric currently living in the United States who Turkey claims, with strong evidence, orchestrated the failed coup of July 15, 2016; and (3) coordinating the war against ISIS.
One hundred days into his administration, Trump has met difficulties in trying to solve all three of these problems. For example, in October 2015, the United States had already attempted to orchestrate a working compromise to the first problem by creating the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a PYD/YPG/YPJ-led militia also consisting of some Arab and other fighters — in an attempt to assuage Turkish opposition. However, Turkey was not impressed by what was largely a mere name change, especially after Trump apparently decided to continue to support it in the final strikes against ISIS, instead of supporting Turkey and its Syrian-opposition allies.
The new president will probably put a great deal less pressure on Turkey for its perceived human-rights and general domestic problems, and instead emphasize making business deals to aid both countries, possibly at the expense of the Kurds. Such deals might help rejuvenate the ailing Turkish economy. For example, just after his election Trump reminded listeners, "I have a major, major building in Istanbul," and claimed "It's a tremendously successful job. It's called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one, not the usual one, it's two."4
In emphasizing business, Trump is tapping into one of the historic wellsprings of the American national style in foreign policy: economics is good; politics is bad. International trade benefits all states and gives them a vested interest in peace; multilateral politics and the constant search for power and security lead to war. Given its geographical isolation from world politics, the United States was able to pursue such policies successfully until after World War II, when the Soviet threat propelled it reluctantly into world politics. Thus, in emphasizing business deals and economics, while questioning political entanglements, Trump is harkening back to themes that remain deeply imbedded in the American national psyche.5
Rex Tillerson — multi-millionaire former ExxonMobil CEO and Trump's choice for the all-important post of secretary of state — may further this trend toward touting business cooperation instead of squabbling over human rights. As one assessment of Tillerson put it, Trump "wants his cabinet to do deals around the world to advance American interests in what is shaping up to be a neo-mercantilist model."6
On the other hand, Tillerson comes into office with a great deal of business experience, but he has also worked with and helped the Iraqi Kurds in his previous post at ExxonMobil. As another assessment concluded, Tillerson signed "a deal directly with the Kurdish administration in the country's north. The move undermined Iraq's central government, strengthened Kurdish independence ambitions and contravened the stated goals of the United States."7 Nevertheless, Tillerson has encouraged the United States to re-engage with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declaring that "this is a long-standing NATO ally that, in the absence of American leadership, got pretty nervous about [its] situation and turned to who was next available [Russia]."8 Tillerson alerted some human-rights advocates to the fact that the new Trump administration might place a lower priority on their defense when, in a break with long-standing tradition, he did not appear in person to present the State Department's annual human-rights report on March 3, 2017.9
Although some of the current differences over ISIS (Daesh) will remain, General Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, also seemed more favorably inclined toward Turkey on security and foreign-policy issues.10 On the very day Trump was elected president, an article by General Flynn was published stating that "Turkey is really our strongest ally against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as a source of stability in the region."11 Moreover, Flynn added that "the Obama administration is keeping Erdogan's government at arm's length — an unwise policy that threatens our long-standing alliance, and concluded that "Gulen's vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey's point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey's Osama Bin Laden."12
Flynn's sudden dismissal from his post after less than a month on the job did not involve his pro-Turkish position. However, a few weeks later, Flynn did acknowledge that he had worked as a foreign agent representing the interests of the Turkish government in a dispute with the United States. Nevertheless, he still maintained that he had written all this "on his own initiative" and not in exchange for Turkish remuneration.13 Therefore, unless specifically contradicted by future events, his earlier positive stance towards Turkey still indicates the new Trump administration's more constructive attitude regarding the Turkish government.
However, by the second week in March 2017, the new Trump administration apparently had decided to beef up its support for the Syrian Kurds in their drive to take Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria, despite Turkish demands to desist.14 In back of this U.S. decision was not only the Kurds' proven ability to take on ISIS successfully, but also the belief that Turkey was more concerned with preventing the Syrian Kurds from forming an autonomous region along Turkey's southern border than in taking on ISIS. Thus, at the end of March, in his first trip to Ankara as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson told his hosts: "Let me be very frank, it's not easy; they are difficult choices that have to be made."15 Turkey's leaders began to feel that they had profoundly misread the new Trump administration's support for them. However, given Russia's surprise backing for the Syrian Kurds, Turkey could do little more than complain that "the Americans are thus playing into the hands of the Kurdish militants willingly or unwillingly as they continue to embolden [their] dreams of a mini-state in Syria."16
Nevertheless, given Turkey's continuing strategic importance, it would be foolish for the United States to spurn it in the long run. Thus, "U.S. aircraft have begun regular aerial intelligence surveillance in support of Turkey's offensive against the Islamic State in northwestern Syria, in anticipation of increased U.S. support for the flailing Turkish military operation around the town of al-Bab."17 The United States also will continue to thank Turkey for such timely efforts as trying to help implement a ceasefire in Aleppo and sending UN observers to monitor the situation, as well as its momentous efforts to support some 2.8 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.
On the campaign trail, Trump took a hard line against admitting Syrian refugees to the United States: "If I win, they are going back."18 True to his word, in the first 10 days of his administration, Trump issued an executive order barring refugees from seven Muslim-majority states for 120 days and Syrians indefinitely.19 Syrian refugees listened with alarm as Trump called them "terrorists" and incorrectly blamed them for violent attacks in the United States and Europe. However, a tough Trump position against admitting refugees to the United States might lead him to give them more support in solving their problems in the Middle East and Europe as a way to alleviate pressure to send them to the United States. Refugees came near the top of Trump's announced list of what to do first upon assuming office. Given recent terrorist events and associated refugee issues, many in Congress and the public are also more attuned to these concerns than is usually the case. However, as of this writing, Trump has met stiff judicial resistance to his refugee initiatives.
President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin seem ready to welcome Donald Trump into their working relationship given the latter's frequently stated affinity toward Putin and desire to establish business relationships, instead of embargoes. Thus, greater cooperation among the three leaders in eradicating ISIS can also be expected. On the other hand, the earlier perceived crisis concerning Turkey's remaining in NATO will also recede since Turkey will continue to facilitate U.S. usage of the geopolitically strategic Incirlik airbase. Turkey and Russia will remain in long-term geostrategic opposition, their present cooperation being merely tactical. Thus, Turkey has no realistic alternative to its NATO alliance. For its part, the United States is not likely to forget that Turkey maintains the second-largest army in NATO and, unlike most other NATO allies, continues to spend the sizable amount Trump considers fair and necessary on this obligation.
COMBATTING ISIS AND THE KURDS
However, Turkey entered 2017 weakened and demoralized by continuing ISIS terrorist strikes. Not only had the deadly ISIS bombing in Suruc helped reignite the war between Turkey and the PKK in July 2015 by scaring away badly needed tourist dollars; ISIS attacks are now pitting traditionally tolerant Turkish Islam against an extremist Islamic fringe.20 Given that many critics have accused Turkey of making itself a jihadist highway that Islamic extremists could traverse on their way to join ISIS in Syria, one might argue that Turkey itself had helped bring on this crisis.21 However, it should be noted that, although the Turkish government disingenuously denies these claims concerning its earlier covert support for ISIS,22 Erdogan badly miscalculated what was intended as aid to help bring down Assad and instead helped to enable what became Turkey's deadly ISIS enemy.
Equally debilitating was the heavy fighting against the PKK that had reignited in July 201523 after the failure of a once-promising peace process.24 Turkey also insisted on viewing the budding autonomous Syrian Kurdish region, Rojava, on its southern border with Syria as a mere extension of the PKK threat and thus another enemy to oppose.25 Finally, the Erdogan government also persisted in viewing these three existential struggles against the background of the failed coup of July 15, 2016, blamed on what it termed the Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization (FETO).26 Although Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the legal but pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), had immediately denounced the coup, Erdogan chose not to thank or invite him to the presidential palace, unlike the leaders of the other two opposition parties in parliament who also had condemned the coup. The snub was clearly intended to isolate the peaceful pro-Kurdish party. Turkey's judicial bureaucracy, at the urging of Erdogan, also decided to arrest the HDP's co-chairs and other leaders in November 2016, thus extending his fight against the Kurds beyond just the PKK in an effort to appeal to the Turkish nationalist vote.
Unless Turkey wants to join Iraq and Syria as a failed state, Ankara must bury the hatchet with its disillusioned Kurds. Only then can it successfully take on ISIS, which is anathema to modern Turkey. This, of course, means harmonizing a structural contradiction: opposing Kurdish autonomy aspirations in Turkey and Syria, while supporting them in Iraq. Although it is true that the PKK in Turkey and the allied PYD in Syria have long been seen as enemies of Turkey, so were the Iraqi Kurds until Turkey decided to change paths and become the KRG's senior partner. The Turkish government can do more to satisfy its disgruntled ethnic Kurds within the existing borders of the state. Independence for the Kurds in Turkey is not necessary, though it probably is for those in Iraq.
In the end, the Kurds in Turkey and Syria would be likely to follow the same amicable path with Turkey. What other road exists, given Kurdish geopolitical realities? Turkey's long-time military and economic prowess, and its strategic location, inevitably make it crucial to the Kurdish future. Furthermore, since more than half of Turkey's ethnic Kurds now live west of Ankara — Istanbul is the largest Kurdish-populated city in the world — at least half of Turkey's ethnic Kurds would not even live in a southeast that was more autonomous. As shown by their continuing electoral support for Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) throughout Turkey, what most of these ethnic Kurds want is simply a more democratic Turkey that would permit cultural and social rights for them as Kurds.
Decentralization for the southeast also would more likely lead to greater ethnic Kurdish support for Turkey. As Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, has repeatedly pointed out, the Kurds would do better in a strong democratic Turkey than in a rump Kurdish statelet in southeastern Anatolia: "We want to work towards a situation where all the geographic parts of Kurdistan will form democratic political unities with the states that they presently belong to.... A separate isolated Kurdistan is the wrong political objective."27 Furthermore, Ocalan emphasized that "we need to recognise the existing borders of the Middle East as fixed and therefore lead a struggle for basic rights and democracy within [emphasis in the original] the existing countries and states."28 The result would be that "a Turkish nation which recognises the existence of the Kurds as an ethnic group in their own right will only result in more respect from the Kurds and less desire for secession."29
Therefore, despite the recent suggestion by such noted Turkish scholars as M. Hakan Yavuz and Nihat Ali Ozcan that
"[f]or the first time, some Turks are thinking about separating from the Kurdish minority,"30 and that even "a Kurdish state seems to be inevitable, given the current political fragmentation throughout the Middle East,"31 other less drastic models remain, for the Kurds in Turkey at least. Nevertheless, at the present crossroads it behooves us to conclude by analyzing the prospects and associated problems of possible Kurdish independence.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH INDEPENDENCE
Too often Kurds and others discuss independence as if it were the end of a process, rather than the beginning. Thus, it is essential to mention the likely problems associated with KRG independence.32 In the first place, it should be clear that we are talking about sequenced or cascading independence for the KRG only, not some type of pan-Kurdish state that would also include the Kurdish portions of Turkey, Syria and Iran. Although many Kurds dream of such an entity, it is highly unlikely, given the vastly different stages of Kurdish nationalist development in each state the Kurds inhabit.
At the present time, the Kurds in Iraq are the ones most likely to become independent, followed by those in Syria. Given the continuing strength of Turkey and Iran as viable states, the Kurds in those countries are much less likely to follow suit, although those in Turkey are more likely to achieve some type of ethnic rights. Thus, the question arises, what would be the relationships among an independent KRG and the other constituent parts of Kurdistan that are still part of Syria, Turkey and Iran? Would the KRG make irredentist claims on these other areas? Would the KRG offer automatic citizenship to all Kurds, as Israel does for all Jews? Would an independent KRG allow dual citizenship for Kurds living in other states? Finally, when Massoud Barzani finally steps down from the extraordinary and technically illegal extension of his presidential term in the KRG, he is likely to continue being the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). If so, the new president of the KRG — or prime minister if the KRG chooses instead to become a parliamentary government instead of a de facto presidential one — would have less real power than the life-long president of the KDP. What kind of precedent would this constitute, and more important, what would this mean for the constitutional development of an independent KRG?
What about other likely legal problems involving visa regimes and financial laws? How would an independent KRG organize its economy? Abdullah Ocalan's PKK still seems a staunch advocate of socialism (Marxism), while the KRG follows a capitalist route. Would the gas-rich KRG share its oil resources with the gas-poor Kurds in Turkey? In other words, would KRG oil be a pan-Kurdish resource or a localized one? Similar problems exist among the Arab states; indeed they were used by Saddam Hussein as justifications for his invading Kuwait in 1990. Unfortunately, too many Kurdish officials have long seemed to put personal wealth accumulation ahead of pan-Kurdish munificence. On the other hand, rentier states dependent on oil resources, like the KRG, provide unstable foundations for economic development. The KRG is a case in point.
In addition, what kind of economic infrastructure would an independent KRG have? At the present time, real banks are non-existent, forcing many people to carry their life savings around in their pockets or keep them stashed at home. ATMs remain few. The KRG is largely a cash economy lacking a long-term sophisticated monetary policy, fiscal discipline or sufficient reserves. Any attempt to create a KRG currency would probably collapse. A possible compromise might be to create a symbolic currency pegged to the U.S. dollar or the euro. Precedents for this already exist in Liberia, Panama and East Timor, which use the U.S. dollar. Furthermore, what about the widespread crony capitalism and corruption prevalent today in the KRG? And in Turkey, what would be done with the Village Guards, who still provide the income for some 50,000 Kurds and their families?
Early in 2016, the World Bank Group released a 219-page economic report on the KRG proposing reform options for fiscal adjustment and the diversification of the economy. The report addressed the high dependency on the oil sector, the excessive role of the public sector in the economy, the dependency on imports, and the weaknesses in the financial system and the cash economy. Economic diversification could plausibly be effected by taking better advantage of land and water resources, expanding the private sector through available human resources and entrepreneurial stimulus, exploiting the geographic location on east-west trade routes between highly productive industrialized economies, and taking advantage of foreign expertise. A World Bank study carried out in conjunction with the KRG's ministry of planning estimated stabilization needs in 2015 at $1.4 billion.33
What about water resources? An independent Kurdistan in Turkey would inherit a large proportion of that state's fresh water supply and its ability to generate hydroelectric power — an important reason that Turkey would continue to oppose Kurdish independence. The KRG and Rojava, on the other hand, obtain their fresh water supplies from upstream and are thus in a potentially much less advantageous position than their Kurdish brethren in Turkey. A lesser, but still important, symbolic problem involves choosing a flag and national anthem. Currently, many Kurds do share "Ey Raqip" (Hey Enemy) as a common anthem.
Shortly before the Trump administration came to office on January 20, 2017, the Atlantic Council, a prominent think tank in Washington, issued a detailed report chaired by former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, calling for the KRG to remain part of Iraq in the interest of future peace and stability.34 It remains to be seen how the Trump administration will react to this recommendation, but if past policies are a guide for the future, it would seem that the new administration will continue U.S. support for a united Iraq.
Kurdish independence would not automatically be the solution to Kurdish problems but, more likely, the beginning of a host of new ones. It behooves all who hold a stake in the Kurdish future and its increasing importance for developments in Turkey and throughout the Middle East to be aware of these problems and consider them sooner rather than later.
1 "'I am a Big Fan of the Kurds,' Says Donald Trump," Rudaw, July 22, 2016. http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/22072016.
2 Ibid. On the other hand, all that this really shows is that Trump might have never heard about the Quds Force at that time, not that he was confused about who the Kurds were.
3 See, for example, Michael M. Gunter, "The Five Stages of American Foreign Policy towards the Kurds," Insight Turkey 13, no. 2 (Spring 2011):102.
4 Cited in Pema Levy, "Trump Admitted to a Conflict of Interest in Turkey," Mother Jones, November 15, 2016. Http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/donald-trump-i-have-little-confict-interest-turkey, accessed January 10, 2016. Actually Trump does not own the Towers, but simply licenses his name to the Turkish billionaire, Aydin Dogan, and for this has received between $1-5 million since 2015. Many businesses based in Europe and the Middle East occupy one tower, while the other houses more than 200 residences.
5 For reminding me about these themes, I am grateful to Steven W. Hook and John Spanier, American Foreign Policy since World War II, 20th ed. (Sage/CQ Press, 2016), 14. For background, see the famous study by the laissez-faire, capitalist economist Adam Smith, first published in 1776, The Wealth of Nations; and Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Republic, 1789-1815 (Oxford University Press, 2009), chap. 17.
6 Siddhartha Mahanta, "Rex Tillerson's Corporate Realpolitik," The Atlantic, December 14, 2016.
7 Ben Hubbard, Dionne Searcey, and Nicholas Casey, "Under Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Forged Its Own Path Abroad," New York Times, December 13, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/world/americas/tillersons-company-exxon-mobil-follows-its-own-foreign-policy.html.
8 "U.S. Has to 'Re-engage' with Turkey in Syria," Hurriyet Daily, January 17, 2017, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/us-has-to-re-engage-with-turkey-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=108454&NewsCatID=358. However, at the same time, Tillerson also spoke of the need to work with the Syrian Kurds, by which he meant the PYD/YPG/YPJ.
9 Carol Morello, "Rex Tillerson Skips State Department's Annual Announcement on Human Rights, Alarming Advocates," Washington Post, March 3, 2017.
10 Rod Nordland, "Turkey Cheered by Words of Michael Flynn, Trump's Security Adviser," New York Times, November 19, 2016.
11 Lt. General Michael T. Flynn (Retired), "Our Ally Turkey Is in Crisis and Needs Our Support," The Hill, November 8, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/305021-our-ally-turkey-is-in-crisis-and-needs-our-support.
12 Ibid. For more background, see Michael Bishku, "Understanding Turkey's Syrian Policy: From Zero to Many Problems," Border Crossing 1, no. 9 (October 2015).
13 Peter Baker and Matthew Rosenberg, "Michael Flynn Was Paid to Represent Turkey's Interests during Trump Campaign," New York Times, March 10, 2017.
14 Clemens Hoffmann, Can Cemgil, and Kamran Matin, "Syria's Kurds Have Ended Up at the Heart of Middle Eastern Geopolitics—Here's Why," The Conversation, March 9, 2017, https://theconversation.com/syrias-kurds-have-ended-up-at-the-heart-of-middle-eastern-geopolitics-heres-why-74193, accessed March 9, 2017.
15 Cited in Callum Patton, "Rex Tillerson Tells Turkey That There Will Be 'Difficult Choices' in Battle against ISIS in Syria," Newsweek, March 30, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/rex-tillerson-turkey-difficult-choices-isis-syria-kurds.576859, accessed April 1, 2017.
16 Ilnur Cevik, an aide to Erdogan, cited in Scott Peterson, "U.S.-Turkey Deal on ISIS Assault? Why that's a Tough Sell for Tillerson. A Shift in Thought," Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 2017, https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2017/0329/US-Turkey-deal-on-ISIS-Why-that-s-a-tough-sell-for-Tillerson, accessed April 1, 2017.
17 Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan, "U.S. Increases Support for Turkish Military Operations in Syria," Washington Post, January 9, 2017.
18 Deborah Amos, "For Refugees and Advocates, An Anxious Wait for Clarity on Trump's Policy," NPR, November 15, 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/11/15/502010346/for-refugees-and-advocates-an-anxious-wait-for-clarity-on-trumps-policy.
19 For further details, see Liam Stack, "Trump's Executive Order on Immigration: What We Know and What We Don't," New York Times, January 29, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/trump-refugee-ban-muslim-executive-order.html.
20 For background, see "From Celebration to Carnage," The Economist, January 7, 2017, 42.
21 Monica Marks, "ISIS and Nusra in Turkey: Jihadist Recruitment and Ankara's Response," Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2016. See also the comments of Marc Pierini, the former EU ambassador to Turkey, and John Kerry, the former U.S. secretary of state, in John Vandiver, "Europe's Fear: Turkey's Porous Border Serves as Gateway for ISIS's Spread," Stars and Stripes, July 5, 2014; and the comments of Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president, in Deborah Amos, "A Smuggler Explains How He Helped Fighters Along 'Jihadi Highway,'" NPR, October 7, 2014, http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/10/07/354288389/a-smuggler-explains-how-he-helped-fighters-along-jihadi-highway. See also Michael McCaul, "Europe Has a Jihadi Superhighway Problem," Time, November 11, 2014; Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt, "A Path to ISIS, Through a Porous Turkish Border," New York Times, March 9, 2013; Emrullah Uslu, "Jihadist Highway to Jihadist Haven: Turkey's Jihadi Policies and Western Security," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 39, no. 9 (2016); and Hardin Lang and Mutah Al Wari, "The Flow of Foreign Fighters to the Islamic State," Center for American Progress, March 2016.
22 Ceylan Yeginsu, "Turkey Anticipating Attack, Strikes 3 ISIS Targets in Syria with Jets," New York Times, July 25, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/25/world/europe/turkey-isis-syria-airstrikes.html, accessed March 1, 2017.
23 Michael M. Gunter, "The Kurdish Issue in Turkey: Back to Square One?" Turkish Policy Quarterly 14 (Winter 2016): 77-86. The entire issue of this journal is devoted to an analysis of this renewed fighting.
24 See Michael M. Gunter, "Reopening the Closed Kurdish Opening?" Middle East Policy 20, no. 2 (Summer 2013): 88-98; and Michael M. Gunter, "The Turkish-Kurdish Peace Process Stalled in Neutral," Insight Turkey 16, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 19-26.
25 For background, see Michael M. Gunter, Out of Nowhere: The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War (Hurst & Company, 2014).
26 For background, see Michael M. Gunter, "Erdogan and the Decline of Turkey," Middle East Policy 23, no. 4 (Winter 2016): 123-35. On the other hand, for a strong case that the Gulen movement did indeed mastermind the failed coup, see Michael A. Reynolds, "Damaging Democracy: The U.S., Fethullah Gulen, and Turkey's Upheaval," Foreign Policy Research Institute, September 26, 2016, fpri.org/article/2016/09/damaging-democracy-u-s-fethullah-gulen-turkey's-upheaval; Asli Aydintasbas, "The Good, the Bad, and the Gulenists: The Role of the Gulen Movement in Turkey's Coup Attempt," European Council on Foreign Relations, September 2016, http://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/the_good_the_bad_and_the_gulenists7131; and Dexter Filkins, "Turkey's Thirty-Year Coup: Did an Exiled Cleric Try to Overthrow Erdogan's Government?" New Yorker, October 17, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/17/turkey's-thirty-year-coup, among others.
27 Abdullah Ocalan, Prison Writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century, trans. and ed. by Klaus Happel (Transmedia Publishing Ltd., 2011), 62.
28 Ibid., 90.
29 Ibid., 79. For further thoughts along these lines, see Abdullah Ocalan, Prison Writings III: The Road Map to Negotiations, trans. by Havin Guneser and originally entitled in translation Problems of Democratization in Turkey and Solution Models in Kurdistan (Road Map) (Cologne, Germany: International Initiative Edition, 2012), 100-09.
30 M. Hakan Yavuz and Nihat Ali Ozcan, "Turkish Democracy and the Kurdish Question," Middle East Policy 22, no. 4 (Winter 2015): 76.
31 Ibid., 78.
32 The following discussion owes much to Michael Rubin, Kurdistan Arising? Considerations for Kurds, Their Neighbors, and the Region (American Enterprise Institute, 2016). Also see the 179-page Rand Corporation analysis by Alireza Nadr et al., "Regional Implications of an Independent Kurdistan," Rand Corporation, 2016.
33 World Bank Group, Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Reforming the Economy for Shared Prosperity and Protecting the Vulnerable (Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group, 2016).
34 Atlantic Council, "Report of the Task Force on the Future of Iraq: Achieving Long-Term Stability to Ensure the Defeat of ISIL," Washington, D.C., November 2016.