Will PKK terminate peace process?

Article Summary
Kurdish politicians in Turkey have expressed their frustration with Ankara’s involvement in the Turkish-Kurdish peace process, hinting that if changes are not made after the upcoming elections, the process could come to an end.

Kurdish politicians in Turkey have expressed their frustration with Ankara’s involvement in the Turkish-Kurdish peace process, hinting that if changes are not made after the upcoming elections, the process could come to an end.

The Kurdish problem is perhaps the single most crucial issue that could sway the current turmoil in Turkey, the corruption probes, the “project to topple the government” and the March 30 municipal elections.

Some time ago, I discussed the peace process with Firat Anli, the [Kurdish] Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) co-candidate for Diyarbakir mayor. “The atmosphere of peace is taking hold. Along with the Kurds, western Turkey is also getting acclimatized to it. Mentalities are changing,” Anli said.

The reason for this introduction is the detailed statement the leadership of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) [an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)] issued two days ago [March 16]. Titled “The government is no longer an interlocutor,” the statement outlined the organization’s short-term political goals.

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The KCK’s comprehensive assessment appears to be the outcome of a week-long meeting. “Convening on March 3-10, 2014, … our executive council set the struggle to democratize Turkey as a fundamental objective and acted accordingly,” the statement read.

And this is how the KCK described the current turmoil: “We are going through a contemporary, more complex and intensified version of the [1919-1923] National Liberation War, waged under the leadership of Turks and Kurds in the framework of the National Pact.”

The statement said the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had failed to respond in kind to the PKK armed forces’ withdrawal beyond Turkey’s borders and the more-than-one-year period of nonviolence. “From its point of view, [the AKP] has deemed it sufficient to sustain the process of nonviolence so as to make it to the elections in this [favorable] climate. It has delivered nothing more than distractive packaging to dawdle this great opportunity until the elections.”

The KCK statement pointed out that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan had refused to “take an opportunistic attitude” toward the Dec. 17 [anti-corruption] process, yet “the AKP failed to take advantage of this opportunity as well.”

And the most remarkable part of the statement: “In this context, the AKP has ceased to be an interlocutor in the democratization drive, which our leader Apo [Ocalan] initiated and for whose success our movement made great efforts. … At the current stage, the AKP is no longer capable of answering the needs neither of the dominant foreign and domestic powers nor the peoples. Therefore, it has become politically dysfunctional in every respect.”

The KCK made no secret that it stands even farther away from the Gulen community and the opposition: “Not only the AKP government, but also the foreign powers … and their domestic extensions — the Gulenists, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) — are wary and fearful of the popular resistance.”

How should one interpret the KCK’s assertion that the AKP “has ceased to be an interlocutor in the democratization drive”? Does it mean that the settlement process is over?

Obviously, the PKK leadership believes that the process since the Dec. 17 operation has eroded the government’s credibility and narrowed its room for political action. The Kurdish movement — perhaps for the first time in a long time — is employing “bossy language” vis-a-vis the AKP.

Two days later, prominent KCK figure Murat Karayilan made remarks that dispelled the ambiguity: “The process will be over unless they make a move right after the elections. Those moves may not come on the first day after the election, but if they make no move in one or two weeks, everyone should know that the process is over.”

Karayilan also emphasized the following point: “True, the process is not completely over today. However, it is being sustained unilaterally by Apo and our movement. Obviously, it cannot go on unilaterally forever. That is, the process is basically deadlocked today.”

In sum, the Kurdish movement is unhappy with the process, criticizing the lack of any substantial moves. But, as Ocalan has previously emphasized, it has postponed its essential expectations until the aftermath of the March 30 elections. It is not hard to see that the “controlled tension” between the PKK and the government will continue until March 30.

To what circumstances will Turkey awake on March 31? What choices will the people make amid this tumult? The outcome will be decisive.

Yet, it is worth pointing out that the PKK and Ocalan are both aware that the Dec. 17 operation could produce results undermining the settlement process and have made it clear they will maintain their stance against fueling the fire.

All eyes are now fixed on March 30. 

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Found in: turkey, peace negotiations, kurds, kurdistan workers party, justice and development party, corruption, abdullah ocalan
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