Re­al­ity ver­sus ide­ol­ogy

ap­proach­ing the Kur­dish ques­tion

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL - Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

The great shifts in the po­lit­i­cal and strate­gic land­scape of the Mid­dle East was merely ac­cel­er­ated by the Arab Spring, it had be­gun long be­fore that. The much re­pressed Kurds who long lived in the shad­ows of other na­tions were at the fore­front of this new Mid­dle East.

The Kur­dish re­nais­sance has be­gun and while the many his­toric wrongs against the Kurds can­not be merely rewrit­ten overnight, the Kurds are es­cap­ing from the chains of mis­for­tune and are no longer the in­fe­rior com­po­nents of the poli­cies of states they were forcibly sub­jected to.

With near in­de­pen­dence, a boom­ing econ­omy and new strate­gic and po­lit­i­cal clout, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has grown from strength to strength. With the Ara­bian earth­quake in Syr­ian, Kurds have bro­ken from decades of shack­les with new au­ton­omy. While, ex­pec­ta­tions of Kurds in Turkey are grow­ing all the time.

Due to na­tion­al­ist ide­olo­gies of re­spec­tive coun­tries, the Kurds were de­nied ba­sic rights or even out­right ex­is­tence. The pol­icy of na­tion­al­ist ide­al­ism was an ig­no­rant and elit­ist ap­proach that such states could adopt due the po­lit­i­cal cli­mates of yesteryears and the im­pe­rial and colo­nial men­tal­ity that plagued the Mid­dle East. No mat­ter how en­trenched your na­tion­al­is­tic ide­ol­ogy, how strong your na­tion­al­ist pro­pa­ganda or how wide your as­sim­i­la­tion poli­cies may stretch, all that they merely do is mask re­al­ity. The re­al­ity is that Kurds are a his­toric na­tion with an ex­is­tence that stretches back thou- sands of years; they are the fourth largest na­tion­al­ity in the Mid­dle East and the largest eth­nic­ity in the world with­out a state. The crimes com­mit­ted against them and their mis­for­tunes since been cru­elly carved in pieces, war­rants vol­umes rather than a sin­gle ar­ti­cle.

How­ever, the point is that af­ter poli­cies of re­pres­sion and decades of de­nial, this does not mean that the Kurds should suf­fice on scraps that gov­ern­ments deem suit­able to pro­vide and forgo hu­man rights such as self-de­ter­mi­na­tion en­shrined in UN char­ters. The same dilemma of re­al­ity ver­sus ide­ol­ogy now threat­ens to hit Turkey hard. Turkey af­ter years of tough rhetoric and threats fi­nally re­alised that the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion or the de-facto Kur­dish state was not go­ing to go away. It even­tu­ally came to terms with ac­cept­ing and ben­e­fit­ing from this re­al­ity, rather than wast­ing valu­able en­ergy deny­ing it based on his­tor­i­cal fears and out­dated na­tion­al­ist ethos.

Turkey and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion are now nat­u­ral al­lies and have a mu­tual ben­e­fit that is grow­ing at a rapid rate. Turkey needs a sta­ble, sec­u­lar, pros­per­ous and friendly Kur­dis­tan in the tur­bu­lent sec­tar­ian shift­ing of the Mid­dle East and Kur­dis­tan Re­gion re­lies on Turkey for its eco­nomic growth, strate­gic in­flu­ence and the path to Europe that it pro­vides.

Turkey has now got a unique op­por­tu­nity to strike long-term peace with the PKK and mend the bro­ken bridges with its Kur­dish com­mu­nity. Nei­ther of th­ese tasks is im­pos­si­ble but it needs new en­deav­our, trust, prac­ti­cal mea­sures and ac­cep­tance of in­evitabil­i­ties.

Th­ese in­evitabil­i­ties en­tail that the Kur­dish ques­tion or the PKK dilemma will not go away, but on the con­trary as the Kur­dish stand­ing in­creases in the Mid­dle East, so will the power and promi­nence of Turkey’s Kurds.

Real peace will not be achieved if Turkey be­lieves that is suf­fi­cient to sim­ply give Kurds rights that they should not have been de­prived of in the first place. Kurds are now look­ing be­yond ba­sic rights and to­wards real con­ces­sions from the Turk­ish government.

A rewrit­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion is a must. The Kur­dish sta­tus as the sec­ond eth­nic­ity in Turkey and their re­spec­tive rights must be en­shrined in law. A pros­per­ous part­ner­ship, in­creased em­ploy­ment and re­build­ing projects in the south east will bring the Kurds closer not fur­ther from Ankara. If the Kur­dish ques­tion can be truly re­solved, then this nat­u­rally opens new doors for Tur­keys EU as­pi­ra­tions. Turk­ish Kurds can en­joy EU ben­e­fits, as well as the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion know­ing that it will have the EU on its door step. The Kur­dish ques­tion and the PKK ques­tion are one and the same. Pro­vide greater rights to Kurds, im­ple­ment new eco­nomic mo­tions in the Kur­dish re­gions and open new doors for the Kurds and sup­port for the PKK will dwin­dle. The PKK have been the cham­pi­ons of Kur­dish rights and their flag bear­ers, but care­ful and sin­cere state over­reaches can slowly alien­ate the PKK.

Kurds are also tired and fed up of fight­ing, de­struc­tion of their ar­eas and the vi­cious cy­cle of been stuck be­tween a re­pres­sive state and rebel vi­o­lence.

Over­reaches start from above and the lat­est peace ini­tia­tive has new mo­men­tum and real prom­ise. In this re­gard, ap­point­ments such as Muam­mer Güler as in­te­rior min­is­ter, with roots in the Kur­dish ar­eas, re­plac­ing the un­pop­u­lar and hawk­ish Idris Naim Sahin, is just the right tonic.

Turkey’s par­lia­ment also passed a sym­bolic law on Thurs­day which gave right to Kurds to use their own lan­guage in court.

The “Demo­cratic Open­ings” of pre­vi­ous years stalled as Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan be­come in­vari­ably stuck be­tween the past and the fu­ture, be­com­ing pinned down by the need to ap­pease na­tion­al­ist vot­ers and me­dia pres­sure.

A sim­i­lar in­con­sis­tent or stop-start ap­proach will sim­ply de­lay the process by a few more years, but Kurds and Turks have no choice but to re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. As the slay­ing of Sakine Can­siz and other fe­male PKK mem­bers showed, there are plenty of sides that seek to de­stroy peace.

It’s time for Turkey to brave in its ac­tions and break the sta­tus quo for the ben­e­fit of a new Turkey based on true brother­hood.

A tai­lor in Afrin, north­ern Syria, makes flags in the Kur­dish na­tional colours, Oc­to­ber 10, 2012.

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