The Kurdish problem in Turkey has many domestic and international dimensions. It is, of course, impossible to touch upon all of these in a column. Thus, I will look at only a few of these aspects.
It is obvious that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) wants to solve the problem. But it does not want to pay a political price for this. On the one hand, it sees that without solving this problem Turkey cannot be the elder brother to the Middle East that it so desperately aspires to be. On the other, it has a Turkish nationalist electorate that is considered unprepared for a solution to the Kurdish problem. The AKP has failed to “lead” the nation in this regard, and instead of challenging the public and explaining to the nation why and how this problem must be solved, it has sheepishly obeyed the surveys and backpedaled when it has encountered a negative reaction.
We can see that the AKP is again testing public opinion and its electorate. The AKP is trying to pave the way for new “Oslo talks” with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with the help of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the US, the UK and Massoud Barzani. I do not object to this. On the contrary, I believe that it must be done. But the AKP must be sure that it is not cheated by both the PKK and its domestic and international backers to extend the life of the PKK. I am sure the AKP recognizes how the PKK leaders are playing a good cop/bad cop game. I hope that they do not make the mistake of belittling Abdullah Öcalan’s shrewd intellect and craftiness.
As I said, I do not in principle object to these talks. I am not sure the AKP can fully control the process, but the public must know that the government is having such talks with a view to disarming the PKK and ending its terrorism. The public must also be informed about the general parameters of the talks. A non-transparent process will again be manipulated. I must note that the PKK leaders know very well that a solution to the Kurdish problem will end their own role and the role of the PKK, and that they are trying to buy extra time. Despite this, talks can take place. In return, the PKK must promise the government that it will freeze its terrorist activities, and the government must make clear that it will actively continue to fight against terrorist activities while the talks are taking place.
I have been arguing here that the PKK and the Kurdish problem are two different, but of course intermingled, problems. But it is both necessary and possible to approximately define the limits of the two problems and deal with them separately. The AKP has rightly been arguing that the PKK does not represent all Kurds. So why does it imply that without PKK disarmament it will not give full rights to the Kurds? Elective Kurdish language courses in schools, for instance, are a good start, but in some respects they look like a joke. Kurdish children already know Kurdish; they do not need such elective courses. They are needed for non-Kurds. Why don’t Kurds have the right to be educated in the Kurdish language when there is sufficient demand?
Some so-called liberal writers persistently blame Hizmet for preventing the government from solving the Kurdish problem. But these writers never speak in concrete terms, preferring the abstract, without any credible evidence or convincing arguments. Their attitude casts doubt on their honesty and credibility. It seems there are attempts to put the burden of the AKP’s hesitance and failure to answer the Kurdish question on Hizmet’s shoulders.
Hizmet has also been blamed for operations of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). Yet the AKP has been fully in control of KCK operations. Both the prime minister and interior minister have declared consistently that its operations are justified. If the AKP was not happy with KCK operations it could easily deal with the KCK prosecutors, judges and police officers. Despite this, some liberals and writers who support the AKP continue to blame Hizmet for the KCK operations. It is not easy to comprehend what is going on, but there is obvious psychological warfare in progress against Hizmet.
These liberal writers have been claiming that the state must turn a blind eye to the KCK’s activities as it is part of Kurdish politics. They must explain clearly why the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is insufficient for such matters. As the prime minister has declared, the KCK is a parallel state organization. Its constitution clearly shows this. Öcalan has said that the KCK is not legal. PKK leader Murat Karayılan is also the head of the KCK. The KCK has illegal courts in the mountains and tries elected politicians in these courts. The KCK also levies taxes on the Kurdish people.
Clearly these writers have a duty to write about this, and openly state that the government must turn a blind eye to these factors. Then the AKP must declare that the KCK should be allowed to perform these actions. After this is done, they can blame the Hizmet movement for being against the KCK.
Published on Today's Zaman, 04 July 2012, Wednesday