Economy to decide result of Sunday elections in Turkey, expert tells Kurdpress

<p style="text-align: left;">The head of the Geostrategic Observatory of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean believes the economic crisis in Turkey will leave a big impact on the March 31 municipality elections in the country and the votes of the Kurdish parties would not change a lot.

The elections would be held on Sunday when the fate of the municipalities in Turkey would be decided for four years. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won the majority of the votes for years, but many political experts believe the situation is different this time.

Dr Nicos Panayiotides told Kurdpress in an interview that the situation is different this year as the economic situation is biting in Turkey and it would leave its impact on the election.

The Kurds would not achieve their goals as long as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling Turkey, the expert stated about the rights of the Kurds in the country.

Panayiotides, visiting Assistant Professor of international politics at American College (Nicosia) and Research Associate at the Center of Eastern Studies at Panteion University, Athens, also said the Kurds in Syria do not trust the U.S. any longer and they are better to negotiate with Syrian officials in Damascus.

What follows is the researcher&rsquo;s full answers to Kurdpress questions;

How do you see the result of the new Turkey elections on March 31? Will the Kurds get better results?

I think that we must keep in mind that the elections take place in an adverse economic environment that will have an impact on the electoral behavior of the voters and consequently on the results. Among others, the Turkish economy is in recession, while inflation undermines the purchasing power of the ordinary Turkish citizen. According to some polls, AKP and MHP may not be able to overcome the 50% of the general vote (In June&rsquo;s general election they received 51%). I think that AKP is struggling to prevail in the big municipalities. This is the reason, for example, that former PM Binali Yildirim is a candidate mayor for Istanbul. In sum, economic issues will play major role in this election. We must take into consideration that Erdogan&rsquo;s political hegemony was based on the economic hegemony of AKP on the political system. As far as the HDP is concerned I believe that the results will be close to those of June&rsquo;s election, around 11%.

It seems that the U.S and Turkey have not reached an agreement regarding Kurds and Northern Syria. In case that is a reality, Can we expect a US- supported safe zone in northern Syria to protect the Kurds?

I agree with your observation. I do not think that U.S and Turkey have reached any sort of agreement for Northern Syria in respect to the Kurdish Question there. There are so many conflicting interests and priorities there between great and regional powers that do not permit at the moment any agreement on the issue. Furthermore, U.S-Turkish relations are in a bad condition that does not allow this to happen. No, I do not see an American safe zone to be established in Syria because of several constraints and obstacles. Basically, the Americans tried to commit their European allies to do this but they have displayed little interest in implementing this.

Will Turkey attack northern Syria before the elections as it did before the last elections in Afrin?

In my opinion, Ankara will not rush to attack northern Syria before the election. Even after the election it will not be an easy operation to be carried out. Manbij area and all the region east of Euphrates in general is very different case compared to Afrin. It is a larger area with the intersection of wider international interests there. In Afrin, Ankara had to face only Russia which at the end of the day gave its consent to the operation Olive Branch in 2018 to occur. However, in Manbij apart from the American forces there are also Russian forces. It is most complicated and I am not quite sure if Ankara will fulfil its threat.

How do you describe U.S announcement that some 400 forces will remain in Syria? Does it have any ties with protecting the Kurds against Turkey?

The Kurds of Northern Syria have lost faith in great powers and especially towards the U.S, their patron in Syria. As far as I know they regard this number of US troops as insufficient. However, a total withdrawal of the American forces at this stages will be considered as a total betrayal. As regards your latter part of your question, I think there is a relation with this but there is also a connection with the American grand strategy to curb Iranian influence in the region.

Would you see any deal between Erdogan and Turkey Kurds in a near future?

As I mentioned in other interviews with KurdPress I do not see any agreement between Erdogan and Turkey Kurds. is mainly concerned with his neo-ottoman vision for the region and beyond and he is not ready in my view to grant essential rights to the Kurds of Southeast Turkey.

What will be the case for Syrian Kurds in the near future?

The Syrian Civil War approaches its end and as the latest events show, in Assad&rsquo;s regime favor. U.S decision to withdraw from Syria and its general ambivalence when this will happen has shown to the Kurds that they cannot rely on the Americans for their future. In this regard and due to the lack of any alternative i think that the Syrian Kurds will seek negotiations with Assad in order to gain legal status and deepen their autonomy in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) in the framework of post-war Syria. Apart from great powers&rsquo; stance on the issue, off course Ankara&rsquo;s reaction as an occupying power there is very important for the whole issue.

Reporter&rsquo;s code: 40101

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