Turkey feels the need to solve Kurdish conflict to boost aspirations for regional leadership
For a quarter century, defeating the Kurdish insurgency has been a pillar of Turkish state policy. Now, that’s being called into question as the government takes stock of the fight’s cost and its role in hampering Turkey’s ambitions for regional leadership.
The struggle against the Kurdish guerrilla organization, marking the 33rd anniversary of its foundation Sunday, has claimed tens of thousands of lives and cost Turkey hundreds of billions of dollars.
Turkey has superior firepower and now U.S. supplied drones to fight the rebels, but there’s not clear path to victory. The government recently left the door open for future dialogue with the rebels while vowing to fight maintain its military drive until they lay down arms.
“We say it very clearly: We will struggle against terrorism until the end, but we will also negotiate with those who prefer politics,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late September. “Those who prefer politics can talk to us, others can’t.”
Analysts said the two-pronged message appeared aimed at keeping pressure on the Kurds while encouraging them to reach a political solution to the conflict.