Kurdish autonomy a lose-lose for Turkey – analyst

Turkey’s fight against Kurdish nationalist forces in northwest Syria must not be sidetracked by U.S. calls for a peace based on a semi-autonomous Kurdish region, wrote Burhanettin Duran, a Turkish academic and columnist for the Turkish pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah.

Duran’s piece responded to a New York Times article that suggested Turkey should negotiate with the mostly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), rather than continuing Operation Olive Branch against YPG fighters in the enclave of Afrin, northwest Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a satellite of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist organisation that has been involved in conflict with the Turkish armed forces for decades, and is classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and a range of other countries, including the United States.

The New York Times article speculated that negotiations could lead to the PKK’s disarmament, in exchange for Turkey’s recognition of Afrin as a semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

However, such a development would have disastrous consequences for Turkey, wrote Duran, since it would empower the Kurdish organisations by providing them with time and legitimacy to consolidate their positions for further conflicts, and increase the prospect of “trench warfare” in southeastern Turkey.

The group also has “no reason to backtrack on its separatist goals”, according to Duran, since the U.S. support and regional circumstances has encouraged its ambitions.

Duran also warns that autonomy would simply lead to further moves towards independence, citing last year’s independence referendum in Catalonia.