Syrian Kurdish Commander Says Biden Can Advance Peace in Turkey
Peace and democracy are the only stable off-ramp from the spiraling domestic and international crises caused by Erdogan’s anti-Kurdish aggression.
The greater impediment to peace today is on the Turkish side. “There is no such problem in Turkey. We have already solved this issue, overcome it and ended it,” Erdogan said of the Kurdish issue on September 23.
But even this intransigence shows signs of cracking. The secular-nationalist Republican People’s Party (CHP) voted for the first time in October to oppose an extension of military operations in Syria and Iraq, aligning itself with the HDP—which usually takes such anti-war positions alone. Prior to that, the CHP’s leader had stated that Turkey’s Kurdish issue ought to be resolved in the parliament, through dialogue with the HDP. And when peace was last on the agenda in Turkey, in 2013, it had the support of over 80 percent of the country’s population.
Kobane says he has been clear about the need for a shift towards pro-peace policy with top U.S. leaders. “I said this sentence to President Trump himself. I told him only the United States could resolve this problem, that the United States should be involved in such a process,” he explains, adding that he would make the same recommendation to the Biden administration.
Now more than ever, there are clear benefits to his recommendation. Peace and democracy are the only stable off-ramp from the spiraling domestic and international crises caused by Erdogan’s anti-Kurdish aggression. These crises threaten international interests as well as harming civilians across the region.
By removing the primary imminent threat to stability and prosperity in the northeast, successful peace talks in Turkey could also help bring a sorely needed political solution to Syria’s war closer to reality.
Multiple rounds of talks between the government and the mainstream opposition have failed to advance real solutions. These talks exclude the AANES at Turkey’s request, despite its achievements in relatively stable, democratic, and pluralist governance. Alternative lines of diplomatic effort are needed—and this one would likely have far-reaching and concrete positive impacts.
Meghan Bodette is an independent researcher whose work has covered North and East Syria, Turkey, and Kurdish affairs. She holds a degree in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.