The conflict between the Turkish government and the Partiya Karkeren Kuridstan or PKK has persisted to varying degrees of intensity since the latter’s founding in 1978. Over this time, tens of thousands have been killed on both sides. This devastating death toll combined with the litany of failed peace processes along the way have culminated to cement a stalemate with deep mistrust on both sides. Though the most recent peace overtures from the Erdogan government and subsequent withdrawal of PKK fighters from eastern Turkey brought hope of a breakthrough, that progress has now stalled as both sides look set to retrench against the perceived insincerity of the other. While the conflict is complex and dynamic, one aspect is often written off to the margins: the nature of the PKK itself. Many governments and analysts simply write the group off as a mere militant group, terrorist organization, or band of freedom fighters. In this paper, I argue that the stalemate currently being experienced is precisely because policymakers have failed to realize the true nature of what the PKK has become. Indeed, rather than conforming neatly to any one label, the PKK has transformed into a symbol of Kurdish ethno-nationalism. Only when the peace process takes this into account will the stalemate truly have a chance to be broken.
In Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced and thousands more killed since June 2011, when the government of Sudan began a campaign to crush an insurgency led by the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of groups aiming to overthrow the government of President Omar al-Bashir. Clashes between the rebels and the government have intensified since late 2013, but the conflict remains stuck in a stalemate. This paper analyzes the trajectory of this conflict, focusing primarily on South Kordofan state, and the relationship between current and past conflicts in Sudan, in particular the Second Civil War (1983-2005) and the Darfur conflict (2003-present). The aim of this paper is to conclude whether this armed struggle is a repeat of past conflicts – the same issues manifesting themselves in a different form – or whether it represents something new and different.
A vast and beautiful country rich in natural resources, Colombia suffers from a chronic social, political, and agrarian imbalance. Though many praise it for having eluded the path of military dictatorship taken by practically all of its continental neighbors in the mid-to-late 20th century, this acclaim masks an underlying truth behind Colombia’s democratic façade. While other South American republics fell to military dictatorship, Colombia’s elites were often too divided or jealous of their power to hand the reigns of the State over to a cast of battle-hardened Cold and Korean War veterans – as many of the country’s top generals between the 1950s-1980s were. Or almost just as bad, the elites were too geographically removed from the majority of the population to be concerned. While Colombia is democratic today, it remains mired by guerrilla and drug-related violence, especially in its interior regions, far from the urban haunches of the country’s upper classes.
In an age of global uncertainty, allies and enemies must be scrutinized, and we must question why we choose to be in conflict. Iran, as it pursues a nuclear weapon as a security guarantee, is perhaps the most important case to re-examine. This paper argues that the United States should not only prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, it should try to make Iran an American ally. What this would look like in practice is difficult to say. This paper merely initiates discussion of a scenario long considered impossible, and shows that there is significant mutual interest in pursuing it. While shared trust cannot occur in the current situation, offers of cooperation from both sides offer the only recourse to a future without a prolonged nuclear standoff akin to that with North Korea. The scope of this paper is confined to laying the groundwork for establishing potential areas of cooperation and identifying the mutual benefits that would arise as a result.