Is Turkey creeping toward civil war?

Der Spiegel reports: Newal Bulut grew up in war, and now she fears it could return. She is a 27-year-old graphic designer from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey. Sometimes she asks herself whether that night in June, when the pro-Kurdish party HDP won seats in the Turkish parliament thanks in part to Turkish voters, was only a beautiful, ephemeral dream?

Bulut spent several nervous months with Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the HDP. She applauded at his speeches, and convinced friends and relatives to support the young party leader, who not only promised but also embodied change in Turkish politics. At school and later at university, Bulut saw how friends who had advocated for more rights for Kurds, were arrested as suspected terrorists. She hoped that the HDP’s success in the June 7 election would help Turkey become a peaceful, pluralistic country.
Just two months later, Bulut walks through downtown Diyarbakir, wearing black leggings, dark nail polish and piercings. She strolls past armored police cars as fighter jets roar overhead. Anti-government protesters erected barricades and set cars on fire the night before. The words “Kobane is everywhere” and “Freedom for Öcalan” are spray-painted on walls. “I was naïve,” says Bulut.

The same ritual repeats itself night after night: At around 9 p.m., fighter jets take off from the military base outside the city to conduct air strikes against positions held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, and its offshoots in Syria. Only a few of the air strikes target Islamic State (IS) positions. At the same time, young Kurds are setting downtown Diyarbakir on fire. Where roadblocks are erected, the police respond with water guns and tear gas. But the protesters are not easily deterred. They chant: “This is only the beginning.” In Istanbul and other cities, violent clashes with police have erupted, resulting in injuries and death.

The Kurdish Spring has turned into a hate-filled, violent summer. Many people in Diyarbakir believe that civil war is inevitable. [Continue reading…]

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