The Commentaries <p>The Commentaries is a journal that publishes analysis, evaluations and assessments of contemporary developments in Turkey, Turkey’s role in the MENA region, and Turkey-EU relations. It does so for a broad audience of scholars, policy-makers, professionals and students. The aim of the commentaries is to draw attention to current advances, discuss policies and practices, and to stimulate critical discussion and theoretical reflection. The Commentaries is an initiative of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC). However, views expressed in The Commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the EUTCC (EU-Turkey Civic Commission) nor its members.</p> <p>Submissions to The Commentaries are reviewed by the editorial board. Commentaries are published online. Print copies of The Commentaries are published on a yearly basis.</p> <p>Founded in 2021; launched in November 2021</p> <p>(Print) ISSN 2754-8791</p> <p>(Online) ISSN 2754-8805</p> en-US <p>CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0</p> (Joost Jongerden) (Commentaries Admin) Tue, 03 Jan 2023 19:34:22 +0000 OJS 60 Analysing the PKK’s Rebel Governance: Data Limitations and Some Potential Solutions <p><em>The content of insurgent movements’ publications can be telling, yet the issues which it decides to exclude or deny can be of even greater illustrative value. Downplaying violence against civilians or sources of illicit funding can be expected, but what of movements who ignore practises of rebel governance, which are not only popular with their supportive constituencies but also bestow legitimacy with the international public? This paper looks at the puzzling case of the PKK whose publications systematically neglected forms of governance – in particular its alternative justice systems - &nbsp;it implemented at the height of its insurgency in Turkey through the 1980’s and 1990s.</em></p> Francis O'Connor, Kamuran Akin Copyright (c) 2023 Francis O'Connor, Kamuran Akin Mon, 01 May 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Colonial continuities in the Kurdish liberation <p><em>This commentary seeks to examine the extent to which Kurdish liberation projects are free from the global colonial continuities. While the discussion on colonialism and Kurdistan typically centres on the Kurds’ relationships with their immediate colonisers, it obscures at least two forms of colonial continuities in Kurdish liberation projects. A decolonial perspective built on the coloniality concept enables these colonial continuities. Firstly, the manifestation of politico-tribal domination in Başûr (South Kurdistan, Iraq) is a common feature of postcolonial states that perpetuates the originally colonial power relations within internal structures. Secondly, the Rojava (West Kurdistan, Syria) revolution, which, despite its extensive criticism of orientalism, inadvertently reproduces the frustration of Rojava’s people arising from the feeling of abandonment, by equating “we fight for humanity” with “we fight for Western values.” The reproduction of internal coloniality and Western superiority are, I argue, inextricably linked to the colonial nature of modern power.</em></p> Jan Yasin Sunca Copyright (c) 2023 Jan Yasin Sunca Mon, 27 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 The Implications of Turkish Interventions in Rojava for US and EU Foreign Policies <p><em>This paper examines how Turkish invasions into Northern Syria’s Kurdish enclave undermine US and European policy objectives. It argues that the Turkish state, obsessed with Kurdish hostility, endangers American and European foreign policies by further destabilising war-torn Syria, facilitating the empowerment of Islamist extremist groups, impeding a peaceful resolution to Syria’s protracted conflict, and assisting Russia’s anti-Western interests. The paper suggests that the US and Europe could rather deploy a dual strategy aimed at exerting pressure on Turkey to discontinue its disruptive and belligerent actions. To cease targeting anti-ISIS Kurdish forces, Turkey must either resume the Kurdish-Turkish peace process or risk being designated as a rival state, analogous to Russia, and subjected to punitive sanctions.</em></p> Veysi Dag Copyright (c) 2023 Author and Journal Mon, 27 Feb 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Urban Destruction and Redevelopment as Counterinsurgency: The Void, The Limbo and New Face of Sur <p><em>This commentary </em><em>explores the relationship between counterinsurgency strategies, urban destruction, and redevelopment via their impacts and manifestations on urban space through an ethnographic case study in Sur, the old town of Diyarbakır. Sur has been home to working class, marginalized and low-income Kurdish families, thousands of which have been displaced during and after the urban warfare between the Turkish state and the PKK in 2015-16. I discuss how urban destruction and redevelopment are used as counterinsurgency strategies under the AKP regime to subjugate the Kurdish cities, which have been the center of collective resistance and grassroots opposition. </em></p> <p><em>My grounded conceptualization follows the physical fractions in Sur: The void focuses on flattened and emptied areas of Sur. The tools for emptying involve curfews, deliberate destruction of the built environment, depopulation of the area, urgent expropriations, and the extension of horizontal and vertical visibility in the redevelopment process for security purposes. The limbo focuses on parts of Sur where all land and properties are urgently expropriated but not demolished yet and unveils the temporality of displacement as a constant threat for the residents. It also discusses the everyday life of the displaced people who still couldn’t be able to establish a stable life. Lastly, New Face focuses on the newly built environment in Sur and exposes the tools of state-led tourism/commercial gentrification; securitization; and depopulation during the neoliberal redevelopment process.</em></p> Arjin Tas Copyright (c) 2023 Author and Journal Thu, 09 Feb 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Dynamics of Communal Violence in the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict <p>Since the 2000s, Turkish-Kurdish communal violence has emerged as a new mode of confrontation in the recent history of Turkey’s Kurdish conflict. Based upon contentious politics literature, this article traces two causal dynamics that have enabled communal violence as a new challenge in the recent history of Turkey’s Kurdish conflict: racialization and countermobilization. While racialization has already been underlined in the literature on the Kurdish conflict, I will argue, however, that a new analytical mechanism that is somewhat neglected in the literature, countermobilization, plays a crucial role in the onset and diffusion of communal violence, especially during high-intensity electoral competitions.</p> Imren Borsuk Copyright (c) 2023 Author and Journal Wed, 01 Feb 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Kurdistan under new attacks <p><em>The Turkish November 19, 2022, attack on Rojava dubbed Operation Claw-Sword was reputedly launched in retaliation for the earlier November 13 bomb attack on Istanbul’s sleek shopping district known as Istiklal Street that killed six people and wounded at least 80 more. Although it made no sense for the Kurds to attack Istanbul and thus invite new Turkish wrath, Turkey quickly blamed the PKK and its kin Syrian Democratic Forces/Democratic Union Party/Peoples’ Defense Units (SDF/PYD/YPG) in Rojava for the atrocity despite their quick denial. On November 22, Turkey escalated these air strikes by hitting an SDF/PYD/YPG military base adjacent to the main US military base in northeastern Syria housing some of the approximately 900 remaining few but strategically important troops the United States still maintains in Syria. No U.S. casualties were reported. However, a Pentagon spokesman declared that the Turkish airstrike had “directly threatened” U.S. troops stationed in the area. Thus, there is the danger of disastrous miscalculations that could lead to Turkish clashes with the United States. Although there is no credible evidence about who perpetrated the original bombing in Istanbul, one might speculate that some rogue Turkish intelligence element carried out a false flag operation to win support for Erdogan’s upcoming reelection scheduled for June 18, 2023. The PKK and SDF/PYD/YPG have </em><em>accused Turkey of having used such attacks as a pretext for invasions in the past. General Mazloum Abdi (aka Mazlum Kobane), the SDF commander, claimed the reputed bomber, Ahlam Al-Bashir, was related to ISIS jihadists via her brothers and past husbands, some of whom were killed in battles against Kurdish forces. Also possible is a reputed rogue PKK element, such as the so-called Kurdistan Falcons/Hawks blamed in the past for similar violent atrocities. A jihadist group might also be responsible. Meanwhile, the midterm elections in the United States paradoxically both strengthened and weakened U.S. president Joseph Biden’s hand in all this.</em></p> Terry Saltsman, Michael Gunter Copyright (c) 2023 Author and Journal Mon, 02 Jan 2023 00:00:00 +0000