Turkey’s rise in power is inversely proportionate with Armenia’s interest. And Turkey recently scored two breakthroughs which will enhance its position as a regional superpower. One achievement was on the domestic front and the other, in international relations.
Three decades of bloody conflict between Kurdish liberation forces and the government, which claimed 40,000 casualties — mostly on the Kurdish side — came to a halt with a unilateral cease-fire by the jailed Kurdish leader, Abdullah Oçalan, who is currently serving a life term as a “traitor.”
His organization, the Kurdish Workers’ Party (its acronym, PKK in Kurdish) has also been labeled as a terrorist organization and is banned in Turkey. Anyone affiliated with the organization is considered a terrorist.
Basically, PKK has been a national liberation organization having the unique goal of upholding the human and ethnic rights of Turkey’s 22-25 million Kurds who have been persecuted by successive Turkish regimes since World War I. The Treaty of Sevres in 1920 had promised freedom and autonomy to the Kurds, which did not materialize, just as the pledges made to the Armenians for an expanded homeland never materialized.
Ironically, Oçalan had anointed his organization as a Marxist movement — perhaps to please his Soviet supporters at that time — providing the excuse to the Turkish government to conveniently call it a terrorist organization and convince the European Union and US to list it with other terrorist organizations.
Although divided into many factions with different — and at times conflicting — goals and ideologies, their leaders have always tried to take advantage of shifting political alliances in the region. Their sustained struggle, at the risk of tremendous sacrifices, seems to be paying off with the creation of a Kurdish region in Northern Iraq, with the creation of an armed autonomous region in Northern Syria, and building pressure in Turkey where many surprising developments are transforming society.