“At least 17 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have been killed in a Turkish military assault on the city of Silvan, which has a mainly Kurdish population, reports say. The Istanbul police department together with teams from the anti-terrorism branch launched the operation at 05:00 local time (02:00GMT), Dogan News Agency said.”
The reality is that Turkey’s longstanding aspiration to become the Middle East’s regional hegemon remains a distant dream. It will not fail as a nation but it may see itself split along ethnic lines after the upcoming elections. By next April it is possible that Turkey will have lost control of the Hakkari Mountains to insurgent Kurdish tribes that inhabit the region. The Kurdish insurgency is being underwritten to a significant degree by Russia, which is providing military and financial aid to the tribes in recognition that a divided and weakened Turkey will enhance Russian power in the Middle East. With Russia now in Syria and poised to become involved in Iraq at the invitation of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Turkey is being squeezed from the west and the east. This combination of internal strife with the Kurds and conflict on its borders could well make the coming year the bloodiest and most violent for Turkey since the Ottoman breakup in the aftermath of the First World War. Unless Turkey acts decisively to takes the fight to control strategic areas across the region its survival will be in peril for the foreseeable future.