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Kurdish Militants Kidnap Turkish Deputy

Kurdish Militants Kidnap Turkish Deputy

Photo Credit: Joe Burgess and Archie Tse. Click here for the full size map.

According to Turkish news agency NTV, the Kurdish militant group PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has kidnapped a member of the parliament; this appeared as ‘breaking news’ in many other Turkish media outlets just about half an hour ago and the story in unfolding as I’m writing this post.

According to news sources, Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy for the predominantly Kurdish south-eastern city of Tunceli – Hüseyin Aygün – was declared kidnapped at about 19:00 Turkish time. It is reported that Aygün was in Tunceli since August 8 and his car was stopped by PKK gunmen on his way to the city center.

This is the first time that the PKK has resorted to kidnapping parliamentary deputies and it appears to mark a new phase in PKK tactics. While previously PKK had officially declared that it would pursue a ”political and peaceful solution” to Turkey’s Kurdish question, this incident marks PKK’s withdrawal from the political solution domain and its return back to violent 1990s tactics. It is also strange that the kidnapped deputy Aygün is known for his pro-Kurdish stance and his frequent criticism of the Turkish state response to the Kurdish question.

PKK violence had been on the rise since 2010; the group had been trying to re-formulate its militancy within the context of an extension of the Arab Spring movements with reluctant support from Kurdish civilians. As Turkey, in tandem with the United States continues to supply Syrian resistance with arms and finances, Damascus and Tehran had been retaliating by arming and supporting the PKK against Turkey. A major 3-week Turkish military sweep operation was finalized yesterday and was deemed a success.

In a longer article, I had evaluated the dangers of PKK’s extension into northern Syria via its acolyte PYD group. Yesterday, Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton had conducted a series of high-level meetings in Turkey and declared that the PKK’s spread into northern Syria is ‘unacceptable’.

If you feel alien to all this, please refer to my analysis report, which sums up Turkey’s Kurdish question and AKP’s response to it.



Akin Unver

Dr. Ünver is an assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University, Istanbul.

Previously he was the Ertegün Lecturer of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, Near Eastern Studies department - the only academic to retain this prestigious fellowship for two consecutive years. He conducted his joint post-doctoral studies at the University of Michigan’s Center for European Studies and the Center for the Middle East and North African Studies, where he authored several articles on Turkish politics, most notable of which is ”Turkey’s deep-state and the Ergenekon conundrum”, published by the Middle East Institute.

Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, he graduated from T.E.D. Ankara College in 1999 and earned his B.A. in International Relations from Bilkent University (2003) and MSc in European Studies from the Middle East Technical University (2005). He received his PhD from the Department of Government, University of Essex, where his dissertation, ‘A comparative analysis of the discourses on the Kurdish question in the European Parliament, US Congress and Turkish National Assembly‘ has won the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) 2010 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in Social Sciences.

Akın also assumed entry-level policy positions at the European Union Secretariat-General, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eurasian Center for Strategic Studies (ASAM) and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (D.C.), as well as teaching positions at the University of Essex (Theories of International Relations) and Sabancı University (Turkey and the Middle East).

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