Pro-state paramilitary violence in Turkey since the 1990s

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Abstract

This paper discusses the role of pro-state paramilitary groups in Turkey’s Kurdish conflict from the 1990s to the present. The role of paramilitaries in civil wars has been heavily discussed in general but remains understudied in the context of Turkey’s war with the PKK. Turkish state authorities established a number of paramilitary groups in the initial stage of the conflict. Their impact grew during the 1990s in line with the change in the state’s war strategy to a low-intensity conflict (LIC). This article discusses the evolution of the role of pro-state paramilitary groups in Turkey’s war with the PKK, focusing on their changing relationship with government agencies. It characterizes the first half of the 1990s as the paramilitarisation of the state and demonstrates the continuing impact of this into the 2000s. The data was collected from media resources, interviews, criminal prosecutions of national and local cases, and NGO reports. Overall, this article develops a better understanding of the nexus between paramilitarism and the state through the prism of Turkey’s Kurdish conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalSoutheast European and Black Sea Studies
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

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