Öcalan’s Na­tional Pact and Fu­ture of the Re­gion

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

Ab­dul­lah Öcalan, the im­pris­oned PKK-leader’s Newroz mes­sage has been re­ceived with mixed feel­ings among the Kurds. For some Kurds it is the pre­lude of a new era; an era of peace and as Öcalan him­self coins it the era of “Demo­cratic Moder­nity”. It is up to Turkey to com­ply with Öcalan’s par­a­digm shift in Kur­dish as­pi­ra­tions in that part of Kur­dis­tan.

The in­tel­lec­tual Kur­dish elites in Turkey are prob­a­bly aware that what Öcalan as­pires in his Newroz mes­sage holds un­der the new Turk­ish strat­egy con­cern­ing Mid­dle East af­ter the spark of the so-called Arab Spring. A new kind of his­tor­i­cal de­nial made it­self felt in his mes­sage. He points out that the cur­rent bound­aries be­tween Arab, Turk­ish, Per­sian and Kur­dish so­ci­eties are ar­ti­fi­cial and the rea­son be­hind the clashes be­tween them is the in­tro­duc­tion of na­tion-state par­a­digm by im­pe­ri­al­ist pow­ers.

Öcalan rightly at­tacks the na­tion-state par­a­digm as a project of moder­nity that aim at cul­tural monism and sup­pres­sion of dif­fer­ent eth­nic iden­ti­ties. So far, his crit­i­cism of the mod­ern na­tion-state project in Mid­dle East is cor­rect, but his post-mod­ernist crit­i­cism of na­tion-state con­tra­dicts his eu­phemistic de­scrip­tion of Turk­ish Na­tional Pact, which aims at a re­turn to Turk­ish as­pi­ra­tions of bor­der-changes where Vi­layet of Mo­sul and North­ern Syria (in­clud­ing all Kur­dish ar­eas there) are in­cluded.

Com­mit­ment to the Na­tional Pact can­not por­tend good omen; it is hardly the start of a new peace­ful co-ex­is­tence be­tween peo­ples of Mid­dle East; on the con­trary, the re­vival of Na­tional Pact im­plies new com­pli­ca­tions and con­flict es­ca­la­tions for in­def­i­nite fu­ture. Such a con­flict will be es­sen­tially dis­as­trous for the hard won Kur­dish sovereignty (Kur­dis­tan Re­gion); af­ter all the Kur­dish sovereignty here is a project of na­tion­state build­ing im­ple­mented through “cap­i­tal­ist moder­nity” that Öcalan so ea­gerly op­poses. It seems that Öcalan’s crit­i­cism of na­tion-state as the agent of cap­i­tal­ist moder­nity con­cerns only the Kur­dish quests for sovereignty; he never touches upon the no­tion of sovereignty in Turkey, where it is con­cen­trated in the ul­ti­mate sov­er­eign, the state. He does not men­tion any de­vo­lu­tion­ary process in Turkey, whereby the sovereignty should be de­cen­tral­ized in or­der to em­power the Kur­dish mi­nor­ity of the coun­try. In­stead, he uses a sim­i­lar ter­mi­nol­ogy ap­plied by neo-ot­toman thinkers in Turkey, em­pha­siz­ing the thou­sand year’s fra­ter­nity be­tween Kurds and Turks, ag­gran­diz­ing the Kur­dish par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Bat­tle of Gal­lipoli and the Turk­ish-Greek con­flict that in Turkey is gen­er­ally held as the War of In­de­pen­dence.

If Öcalan suc­ceeds in ac­tu­al­iz­ing a new “na­tional pact” be­tween the Turks and Kurds in Turkey in a sim­i­lar man­ner that was ap­plied by Idris Bedlisi to ally Kur­dish prin­ci­pal­i­ties with the Porte is some­thing for the peo­ple to de­cide. How­ever, it is quite alarming that Öcalan is ex­tend­ing the bound­aries of Na­tional pact to in­clude Kur­dis­tan Re­gion by say­ing “I call upon the Kurds, the Turk­mens, the Assyr­i­ans and Arabs - who against the prin­ci­pals of Na­tional pact have been di­vided un­der the Syr­ian and Iraqi Arab repub­lic - to dis­cuss, to gain aware­ness and to de­cide their re­al­ity in a Na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity and Peace Con­fer­ence”. What ex­actly does Öcalan mean by Na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity? Öcalan gives a clue by an end­ing phrase; “we shall unite against those who di­vide us and ini­ti­ate con­flicts be­tween us. We shall make com­mon cause against those who aim at sep­a­ra­tion be­tween us.” And ex­actly whom does he aim at when talks about those who “di­vide” and “sep­a­rate”?

As for the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, Öcalan’s ini­tia­tive for an en­dur­ing peace in Turkey is a wel­come event. But maybe the de­ci­sion-mak­ers in Kur­dis­tan re­gion should read be­tween lines when Öcalan em­pha­sizes the Na­tional pact, par­tic­u­larly when we read what Öcalan tells the BDP del­e­ga­tion vis­it­ing him at Im­rali Prison Is­land: “We shall fur­ther en­large the guerilla-forces in the with­drawn ar­eas. I do not share the view­point that the with­draw­ing means the end of guerilla [move­ment]. There is Syria and Iran. Right now there are 50 thou­sand of them in Syria, 10 thou­sand in Qandil [Kur­dis­tan Re­gion] and 40 thou­sand in Iran.” One may ask what th­ese forces will aim to do in Syria, Iran and Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. Whom will they fight in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion? And why should they have their base in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion? For the Re­gion’s con­cern it is im­por­tant that the north­ern neigh­bor reaches a peace­ful so­lu­tion with its Kur­dish mi­nor­ity, but it is also cru­cial that its prob­lems do not spill over to the re­gion and jeop­ar­dize the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the Re­gion. If PKK and Öcalan aim at re­viv­ing the Na­tional Pact, they should do it within the con­fines of the Turk­ish Repub­lic and keep their as­pi­ra­tions out­side the re­gion.

Se­la­hat­tin Demir­tas, co-chair­man of the pro-Kur­dish Peace and Democ­racy Party (BDP), lights a tra­di­tional Newroz fire dur­ing a rally to cel­e­brate the spring fes­ti­val of Newroz.

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