Assessments

Capitalizing on the Kurds

Feb 17, 2016 | 09:16 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara on Jan. 20.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara on Jan. 20.

(ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are preparing to hold two important referendums that could each impact the fate of the region's Kurds, albeit in very different ways. In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to gather more power under the presidency in the name of addressing the threat posed by Turkey's unruly Kurdish minority. In Arbil, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani is hoping to renew his electoral mandate by reviving the issue of Kurdish independence. The two presidents' primary goal is to use the popular votes to consolidate their own power bases at a time when both are struggling to contain dissent. But if they are not careful, they could upset the delicate relationship that Ankara and Arbil have worked so hard to establish. ...

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