T-SyriaÖcalan98

Turkey on Syria over PKK and Ocalan (1998)

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636)

Case Summary:

In October 1998, Turkey issues an ultimatum over Syria ’s support of the PKK and protection of its leader, Abdullah Öcalan.  Lexis/Nexis provides 212 results for the terms “Turkey,” “ Syria ,” PKK, and “crisis” for the period 10/1/1998 to 11/1/1998 (full text search under European News Sources).

Case Study Features

Effectiveness of Offensive Policies: 1

Even though Israel does not take a position during the crisis, [i] Turkey’s increasing confidence with respect to Syria might be related to its military alliance with Israel two years ago.[ii] There is also a high cost of inaction for Turkey , as Kurdish nationalism is gaining ground and legitimacy.[iii] Finally, the Kurdish factions of Northern Iraq sign a peace deal in Washington on August 17, 1998, which can potentially limit Turkey ’s interventions in the region.

Offensive vs. Defensive Signals Indistinguishable: 1

Turkey claims that it defends itself by fighting Syria-backed terrorists, while Syria claims Turkey’s alliance with Israel aims at encircling the whole Arab world. This ambiguity in incentives is reflected in the international press.[iv]

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries : 1

Turkey and Syria disputed areas include the support Syria has given to PKK, Turkey's damming of the headwaters of the Euphrates, its growing military alliance with Israel, and the disputed Turkish province of Hatay given to Turkey by the French 50 years ago.

Domestic Challenges : 1

PM Mesut Yilmaz, who faces scandals[v] and elections next April, needs an excuse to stay in power and postpone the elections. President Demirel aims to widen his powers.[vi]

Confrontational Policies (dependent variable): 1

The military ultimatum against Syria is coded as confrontational policy.



[i] Israel wants to stay clear of Turkish-Syrian crisis”, Agence France Presse, October 4, 1998; Efraim Inbar, “ Turkey deserves Israel 's support”, The Jerusalem Post, October 19, 1998, p.8.

[ii] David Hirst, “Bid to stop Turkey-Syria clash”, The Guardian, October 5, 1998. p.12.

[iii] Christopher de Bellaigue, “Turkey's generals spoiling for a fight with Kurds' 'protector': Ankara is desperate to finish off Kurdish guerrillas, even if it takes a war with Syria ,” Financial Times, October 10, 1998, p.03

[iv] David Hirst, “Bid to stop Turkey-Syria clash”, The Guardian, October 5, 1998, p.12; Roula Khalaf, “Turkey and Syria settle Kurds dispute”, Financial Times, October 22, 1998 , p.5.

[v] “Turkish government set to fall as political crisis comes to a head,”   Agence France Presse, November 23, 1998

[vi] Christopher de Bellaigue, “Turkey's generals spoiling for a fight with Kurds' 'protector': Ankara is desperate to finish off Kurdish guerrillas, even if it takes a war with Syria ,” Financial Times, October 10, 1998, p.3