Uncertainty with peace process
Negotiations with imprisoned leader of Kurdish rebels raise many questions
Negotiations with imprisoned leader of Kurdish rebels raise
many questions Talks between Ocalan and MIT cannot resolve the Kurdish national question
Talks between Ocalan and MIT cannot resolve the Kurdish national question
There are concentrated talks and discussions among the Turkish media regarding the so-called ‘peace process’ between Turkish state and PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan. For some time the AKP-led Turkish government through Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) has began talking with Ocalan in order to stop PKK’s military warfare in Turkey and get PKK’s guerrillas back to Kurdistan region of Iraq. The negotiations or rather the secretive talks between MIT and Ocalan have been classified as the initiation of a ‘peace process’.
For so many, including the editorial of this issue by Bashdar Ismael, the so-called peace process is a very necessary and good step that has potential to resolve the Kurdish question in Turkey. For Bashdar ‘The Imrali peace process in Turkey has created an environment, support base and sense of expectancy that has never been seen before’. Bashdar optimistically argues that a new Turkey can be built by writing a new constitution: ‘ A new constitution that recognizes the Kurds and enshrines their rights, including a level of autonomy, is of paramount importance.’
A similar argument is put forward by Abdulkadir Selvi in his column at Yeni Safak on Monday. Selvi is not only a Turkish journalist but also a close adviser of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In that sense his vision and ideas regarding the process is crucial. Selvi like Bashdar argued that this process, if it is crowned with a parallel process of writing a new constitution, definition of a new identity and moral values can lead to the construction of a new Turkey and liquida- tion of old Turkey that was established on the outdated principles of Ittihad-i Terakki or Committe of Union and Progress, (Yeni Safak, 25 February).
These optimistic views is not confined solely to a handful of writers whether Turks or Kurds. It is common among the liberal minded intelligentsia in Turkey. Ultra Turkish nationalists and the main opposition party, Republic People’s Party, CHP, fiercely opposing the ongoing talks with Ocalan mainly due to the fact that if the AKP government is successful in ending the conflict, they fear this will prolong AKP Party in Turkish politics for some time to come.
This so-called peace process however has to be critically analyzed within the framework of Kurdish national question and solution of that question. Failing to approach the issue through national perspective has potential to deviate from the essence of the Kurdish national question and consequently not lead to an appropriate solution.
Talks between MIT and Ocalan towards the solution of an decades old conflict has nothing to do with the Kurdish national question but it is about the existence of PKK and its problem with the Turkish political establishment. What is at the stake is not the Kurdish national issue but the problematic existence and survival of PKK as an organization spread throughout Turkey, Middle East and Europe. It is also a personal question of Abdullah Ocalan and improving his prison conditions and his possible freedom.
Indeed ending the conflict will open new doors for the discussion on the Kurdish question from a new perspective. The three decades of conflict between PKK and Turkish security forces in reality hijacked the Kurdish question from its true essence and diminished Kurdish national/democratic liberation struggle to a security and terror paradigm. End of conflict and legalization of PKK and its integration into the Turkish political establishment may open new opportunities to Kurdish national movement to raise the issue back to its right place.
The Kurdish national question is a question of nationality and sovereignty. It is a political question that refers to legitimate national rights of the Kurds over their territory and sovereignty. The Kurdish national question is not about democratization of Turkey but the property rights of the Kurds over their geography and the natural resources over it. Without the Kurds having their sovereign rights and entitlement over the territory, the Kurdish national question cannot and will not be resolved. The Iraqi experience indicates this very clearly.
The so-called peace process and the talks between Ocalan and MIT does not in any way refers to such principles and thus reduces the Kurdish national question to a minority question.
It is also imperative to underline the timing of the talks, which is taking place in a sensitive period in the Middle East and in Iraq particularly. Political chaos and civil war in Syria has potential to disintegrate Syria into national and religious components thus potential for Syrian Kurds to establish a Kurdish political entity similar Iraqi Kurdistan. There are two main currents in Syrian Kurdistan, one led by Kurdish National Council composed of various Kurdish political parties and groups, and the other People’s Council led by Democratic Union Party, known as PYD. PYD is known for its close association with PKK.
While KNC demands federal status of Syrian Kurds in post-Assad period, PYD demands basic cultural and individual rights for Syrian Kurds within a democratic Syria. PYD formulates its argument similar to PKK under the banner of ‘democratic autonomy’. PYD’s autonomy however does not demarcate Syrian Kurdistan border and does not include any sovereign rights for the Kurds. In other words PYD’s policy for Syrian Kurds is to reduce the national question of Syrian Kurds to minority rights.
Turkey’s main concern for Syria is to prevent disintegration of the country into its national and religious components and to prevent the Syrian Kurds to have their own sovereign status similar to the Iraqi Kurds. Formation of another federal Kurdish political establishment may jeopardize AKP led Turkish government policy for resolving the Kurdish national question within the paradigm of minority question, in other words integrating and assimilating the Kurds into the political establishment through granting basic individual rights rather than collective and national rights.
In this sense Turkey will be successful in resolving the Kurdish question without jeopardizing the political establishment that is based on ‘one nation, one flag, one state’. Successful talks between Ocalan and MIT or between Turkey and PKK paradoxically means controlling and manipulating political development in Syrian Kurdistan by Turkey through PKK and PYD. Because PYD is nothing but a proxy organization of PKK and follows its footsteps, Turkey through PKK and PYD will try to affect the Kurdish politics in Syria.
Despite the good relations between Turkey and Kurdistan Regional government both entities may face each other in Syria and Syrian Kurdistan mainly because their policies contradict each other. While KRG pursues a federal system in post-Assad regime, Turkey aspires for a centralized political regime for post-Assad regime. The best instrument that Turkey has in its hand is the PYD because it pursues a political objective albeit in a different political jargon.
The talks between PKK and Turkey thus have two intentions: on the one hand to integrate the northern Kurds (Kurdistan of Turkey) into Turkish political system in a voluntary way through PKK and on the other hand to prevent the Syrian Kurds to establish their own sovereign political regime either by a federal structure or independence.
Here comes a critical question of KRG in this process. KRG expressed its good intention in this so-called peace process and outlined that it is ready to take part towards a peaceful solution. If KRG really believes that the ongoing talks will resolve the Kurdish national question then KRG makes a historical mistake and digs its own grave. But if it approaches the issue in a pragmatic way to end the PKK’s conflict with Turkey, it must follow a very delicate policy. KRG’s main concern and concentration should not be about the Kurds in Turkey at this stage but the Syrian Kurdistan because the destiny of the Kurds in Kurdistan will be determined by how the Syrian political development may evolve.
Turkish nationalists could misread the legal opinion as pro-PKK feeling, a diplomat said.