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Turkey and the Kurds: Post-Election Prospects for Progress?

Bipartisan Policy Center
1225 Eye St. NW
Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
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In Turkey’s June 7 parliamentary election, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is considered the big winner, exceeding expectations by not only crossing the 10 percent threshold for the first time but also by gaining almost 13 percent of the national vote. This outcome has raised hopes that the conclusion to Turkey’s three decade-long struggle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) might be within reach, giving Turkish Kurds the rights and liberties they have long demanded. Yet, it remains uncertain whether HDP will enter into Turkey’s next government or whether a more nationalist coalition will take shape, which would cast doubt on the peace process’ future.

At the same time, Kurdish groups are heavily involved in the fight against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, where Kurdish fighters recently wrested Tel Abyad from ISIS control. Turkey, however, has been wary of the rising prominence and strength of Kurdish groups, taking much flak for appearing to not support Syrian Kurds during the siege of Kobani in 2014. HDP’s electoral performance has also opened the possibility of changing Turkey’s policy toward these conflicts.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) hosted a discussion of the Turkish election and its impact on the Kurdish issue both in Turkey and the larger region.


Alan Makovsky
Non-Resident Fellow, Center for American Progress
Former Senior Professional Staff Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee
Member, BPC Turkey Task Force

Aliza Marcus
Author, “Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence”

John Hannah
Senior Counselor, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Former Assistant for National Security Affairs to the Vice President
Member, BPC Turkey Task Force

Denise Natali
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies


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