Turkey's Economic Policy Research Institute (TEPAV) has suggested in a report that Turkey should prepare itself for an independent Kurdish state and would do well to develop effective policies in line with that eventuality.
The report, titled "Iraq's Future and Turkey: At the Crossroads of Risks and Opportunities" and prepared by Mustafa Aydın, Nihat Ali Özcan and Neslihan Kaptanoğlu, claims Turkey should learn to manage the crisis in Iraq and that a new organization at the level of the presidency should be established to coordinate strategies and be able to take and implement quick decisions.
Due to the delicate situation in Iraq, Turkey should develop strategies according to all kinds of different options and try to implement policies that will influence the future of Iraq, but while doing this it should be able to discuss multiple solutions without restricting itself from unconventional solutions, according to the report.
"There is no single, ready-made package of measures that fits all scenarios perfectly. Moreover, Turkey cannot become a passive observer to the developments in Iraq and produce reactions suitable to emergent conditions after the dust has settled in Iraq. Turkey should make efforts to put the model it would choose into practice in the reconstruction of Iraq, or at least to influence the formation of the emerging structure in Iraq," the report says.
According to the report, merely protecting the territorial integrity of Iraq will not isolate the effect of problems emerging from the Kurdish region because it will be impossible to restore the unitary structure of Iraq. The report’s example of this is the Kurdish region, when it comes to terrorism directed against Turkey from northern Iraq, referring to the central administration or other powers in the region and enlarging the front for Turkey. But if it was an independent structure, Turkey’s options to take necessary measures would increase and the target would be restricted.
“Similarly, it is obvious when Kirkuk is excluded from the Kurdish region, given a special status or subordinated completely to the Kurdish region, this will have different effects on Turkey. This implies that the scenarios pertaining to the future of Iraq are multi-dimensional and complicated and that the issue has aspects that are not readily discerned,” the report says.
In this framework, the report elaborates on the options of a small, homogeneous independent Kurdish state and multiethnic and big Kurdish state and their possible implications for Turkey. “In order to eliminate the risks that a possible Kurdish state might pose to Turkey in the future, Turkey should try to restrict its internal sovereignty, ensure that Turkmen, Arab and Christian groups are given rights and implement international review mechanisms for the protection of these rights. The structural areas that may create security problems for the Kurdish state in the future should be determined in advance, and suitable conditions should be created. The human, ethnic, political, economic, psychological and geographical conditions that may be used to this end should be identified, and work should be concentrated on these areas.”
The report suggests that the economic dependence of northern Iraq on Turkey should be increased. The ideological, political and social diversification between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan should be closely watched and deepened, too.
The report also recommends the internationalization of the Kirkuk problem and involvement of the United Nations in the process. Some other policy proposals of the report are as follows:
* Turkey’s potential in creating problems with respect to the Kurdish state, the Kirkuk problem, and the fate of Turkmen should be analyzed;
* Barzani should be isolated;
* Possibilities for cooperation with Sunni and Shiite Arabs against Kurdish groups should be investigated;
* Democracy and free market economics should be highlighted and promoted in northern Iraq;
* The presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in northern Iraq should be terminated. Turkey should be tolerant in other areas while giving the harshest response to anti-Turkish acts to make sure that Kurdish groups in northern Iraq understand the consequences of anti-Turkish acts. Harmony with Turkey, on other hand, should be rewarded;
* Turkey should create an environment and infrastructure to reinforce self-defense by the Turkmen;
* Cooperation with the US and Israel should be expanded with respect to radical religious movements and terrorism that will increase in future, and it should be emphasized that these countries understand the benefits of cooperation with Turkey. Also, these countries should be informed of the fact that Turkey will make no concession from its high level-interests and an anti-Turkish attitude would be costly;
* EU countries must be informed on circumstances that relate to global terrorism and relations with Iraq. Energy prices and the security of the energy supply should be emphasized, and Turkey’s importance for the EU should be kept on the agenda at all times;
* Official policies should not be contradictory with respect to Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and the PKK, but rather should be integral. State organs should not have differences with respect to policies on Iraq, and strategic planning should be expanded so as to include the private sector;
* The organizational models of the Foreign Ministry, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the General Staff should be reviewed so as to create units where issue-oriented personnel are continuously employed; and
* The PKK’s acts should be correctly defined. When the terrorist organization’s acts aren’t properly defined, it is a roadblock to the legal, security and decision-making mechanisms that may produce proper reaction to the PKK’s acts. When proper definitions are not made, strategies for fighting the PKK cannot be correctly designed.
AYŞE KARABAT ANKARA