The Turkish-Kurdish peace process began in early 2013 and stalled soon after. During that period, the Kurds expected the government to release KCK activists, improve Ocalan's prison conditions, allow Kurdish-language education, and lower the 10-percent electoral threshold. In response, the government announced a reform package, which, among others, allowed education in Kurdish in private schools. The government also sought to shut down Ocalan and remove the PKK from the peace process, by reaching out to Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Regional Government. Still, there is no doubt that a strong and democratic Turkey would improve the Turkish-Kurdish relationship and benefit the lives of Kurdish citizens.
Most of the recently published books on the Kurdish problem in Turkey focus on the armed struggle and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Watts, however, offers a much-appreciated alternative approach. “Pro-Kurdish political parties” (p. xvii), or what she also calls “challenger parties” (p. 16), “have made themselves matter and… have impressed their ideas and agendas on reluctant and often repressive states” (p. x). “The central argument of this book is that… pro-Kurdish elected officials and party administrators engaged [as]… ‘loudspeaker systems’ for the transmission of highly contentious information politics that challenged the narratives of security, identity, and representation promoted by Turkish state institutions…. They [also] tried to construct a competing ‘governmentality’ and new collective Kurdish ‘subject’ in cities and towns in the southeast” (p. 13).
This is not just another book criticizing Turkey for its well-known Kurdish problem. Rather it is an ably crafted analysis full of useful insights regarding the Kurds within the context of Turkish politics. Its main contribution is a very insightful analysis of the “politicizing [of ] the Kurdish question in Europe by encouraging the formation of Kurdish special interest groups and intensifying political lobbying efforts” (p. 184). “Germany is at the epicenter of this transnational web because the majority of politically engaged ethnic Kurds reside there” (p. 181). The Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Denmark, among others, also serve as homes for these “Euro-Kurds” (p. 173). “The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] has created a broadly supportive and legitimized network of legal experts, human rights activists, and environmental specialists, along with connections to scholars, media professionals, and technologically skilled members of the Kurdish diaspora” (p. 20). The phrase “dual strategy” in the book’s subtitle refers to “the transformation of the PKK from an organization that predominantly pursued a guerrilla strategy in Turkey [and still does] to one that established parallel political structures in Europe” (p. 4).
Turkey’s Middle East policy has witnessed revolutionary changes since 1999. The changes in the attitude of Turkey towards the region can be easily grasped by examining its policy towards Iraq. Today Ankara is an active player in the region using non-military means of diplomacy, such as economic tools and international conferences. This paper analyzes the changes in Turkish foreign policy towards Iraq through a framework of processes, means and outcomes. The article covers approximately the last ten years and looks at three turning points that triggered change. These turning points are the capture of the PKK leader Öcalan in 1999, Turkey’s refusal to allow the transfer of US soldiers to Iraq in March 2003, and the Turkish responses to the PKK attack on the Aktütün military post on the Turkish-Iraqi border in October 2008. The article contends that as a result of the transformations in Turkey’s foreign policy, it has become an indispensable actor in Middle Eastern politics.