Assessing the Urban Terrorism Strategy of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey [The Defence Horizon Journal]

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Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters. Photo Credit: ANF

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters. Photo Credit: ANF

Abstract: Since its emergence in the 1980s, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been a significant source of concern to the state of Turkey. With the escalation of conflict between the Turkish state and the ethnic Kurdish community in the 1990s, the level of violence explicitly increased, and the civilian death toll rose to its highest point. Though the PKK could not ensure absolute authority in large, predominantly Kurdish provinces in the southeast, it gradually shifted to a new strategy —urban violence— to undermine the Turkish state’s authority in Kurdish regions. This article looks at the urban terrorism strategy of the PKK to explain why, despite its long-term insurgency experience and demonstrated support, it failed to sustain a successful urban violence strategy.

Bottom-line-up-front: The PKK’s urban terrorism strategy in Turkey is a good example of how does a violent militant organization destabilize the nature of regional order.

Problem statement: How did a Kurdish organisation become a notorious threat to the state of Turkey and regional security?

So what?: According to theories of violent resistance, violence is the only practical and productive tool of mass mobilization of ethnic insurgencies against political systems. In the case of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey, many scholars argue that Turkey’s policy of ethnic nationalism has had a decisive role in shaping Kurdish ethnic nationalism throughout these years.

Read more at the Defence Horizon Journal (PDF)

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