By Victoria Jones
One can view attending an event, a class, reading a book, or watching a film as something of a gamble. Will the time invested yield intellectual reward, something to think about afterwards? I attended an event entitled ‘Turkey’s Kurdish Question: A New Hope?’ at the Brookings Institution. The speakers provided extensive expertise, which left me with the reward of more questions than answers.
The event was set up as a panel discussion. The three panelists provided contrasting, but interlocking perspectives. First, Aliza Marcus, a prizewinning journalist, provided a critical view of Erdoğan’s negotiation efforts. Ömer Taşpınar provided a somewhat less critical view of recent events. Finally, Gönül Tol elaborated on the role of what is going on in Iraq and Syria as it relates to Turkey. This allowed me to really consider the merits of each perspective, and process the information for myself as well.
I think that developing my own set of questions to ask myself as I follow developments on Turkey and the Kurds is a powerful analytical tool. The questions I will ask as a result of attending the event include: what are the implications of Erdoğan’s choice to engage directly with Öcalan and the PKK as opposed to the BDP, when Erdoğan himself claims to be advancing democracy? How will a transition from negotiations with a terrorist organization move to other channels, such as the parliament? I also wonder to what extent current resolution efforts address the root causes of the conflict.
It was invigorating to hear diverse and learned perspectives on a topic that really interests me. As I proceed with following current events, and taking classes in international relations and conflict analysis, I look forward to continuing my research into these questions.