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Turkey, Syria and the Kurds: There Goes the Neighborhood


Ankara believes that Kurdish autonomy inside Syria could become a major threat to Turkey's territorial integrity, fanning the flames of Kurdish separatism at home and offering the PKK new bases, in addition to those in Iran and northern Iraq, from which to hit Turkish targets. Yet there is obviously much more to the Kurdish issue than the situation in Syria. Today, Turkey finds itself facing a deteriorating crisis inside its own borders. Less then a decade ago, Turkey's Kurds could have placed at least some of their hopes in the EU. That era is now gone. The EU accession process is in the midst of a gradual slide into irrelevance. The EU's waning importance in the Kurdish equation has been accompanied by the rise of another outside actor - Iraqi Kurdistan. For years, at least from Turkey's perspective, the quasi-state in northern Iraq seemed part of the Kurdish problem. Today, with regard to both the situation in the Turkish southeast and the changing political mosaic in Syria, it may be part of the solution.

Paper produced within the framework of the project Turkey, Europe and the World. Publ. in IAI Research Paper 9.

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