Protesters call for peace, following Turkish airstrikes that killed hundreds of members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, as part of a campaign supposedly targeting the so-called Islamic State. Istanbul, Turkey, August 9, 2015. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters call for peace, following Turkish airstrikes that killed hundreds of members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, as part of a campaign supposedly targeting the so-called Islamic State. Istanbul, Turkey, August 9, 2015. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

In late July, the simmering three decade-old conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) returned to the boil, ending the ceasefire in place since March 2013. As the Turkish military bombs PKK bases and Kurdish militants kill security officers and attack critical infrastructure, the entire peace process is under threat. Whether it can be revived will largely be determined by domestic politics and intra-Kurdish power struggles.

The recent violence in southeast Turkey has claimed the lives of at least 60 members of Turkish security forces, 88 militants, and 15 civilians, just as Turkish police have arrested over 1,000 suspected PKK sympathizers and declared over 100 “special security zones” in the Kurdish areas. The renewed clashes also follow Turkey’s decision to join the US-led air campaign against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in the border region with Syria. ISIS is suspected to be behind the recent attack in the Turkish town of Suruç, which killed 32 people. Turkey has been accused of using the ISIS campaign as an excuse for targeting the PKK and curbing Kurdish political ambitions.

Neither the PKK nor Ankara has an interest in returning to the damaging violence of the 90s, and even the current incidents of attacks and retaliation are damaging for Turkey at a time where the country faces early elections and finds itself increasingly vulnerable to violent spillover from the crises in Syria and Iraq. Read more