What does the PKK want?

The Kurdish political movement is zigzagging over what to do and how to do it when it comes to the solution process.

al-monitor A boy holds the Kurdish PKK youth organization flag during the funeral of three Kurdish fighters killed during clashes against Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, at a cemetery in the southeastern town of Suruc, Oct. 24, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach.

Topics covered

turkey, peace, pkk, kandil, abdullah ocalan

Nov 3, 2014

We must not see the recent spate of muscular statements from the PKK/KCK [Kurdistan Workers Party/Kurdish Communities Union] as signaling the end of the solution process with Turkey. When it comes to that crucial juncture, leaders of both the PKK/KCK and HDP/BDP [People's Democracy Party/Peace and Democracy Party] Kurdish political parties point to imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan and say he will make the real decision.

The PKK’s Kandil Mountain headquarters from time to time announces the process is done for and hints that Kurds may resume attacks inside Turkey. We observe that their language gets tougher in parallel with the resistance at Kobani. They never miss an opportunity to say that Turkey supports IS [the Islamic State].

The potential for new clashes is obvious. It is also a fact that the KCK’s statements about the ruling AKP [Justice and Development Party] are getting harsher by the day, with an increasing dose of threats.

We can also say that the Kurdish political parties BDP/HDP have also adopted an escalatory rhetoric.

A recent article by Kurdish MP Aysel Tugluk said: “The process with the AKP is finished. Secular forces must report to duty.” This was one of the most menacing expressions of this trend.

Let’s have a look at the messages from the Kurdish front:

Mustafa Karasu, a member of the KCK Executive Council using the alias Huseyin Ali, wrote in the Oct. 30 edition of the daily Ozgur Gundem about his allegation of AKP cooperation with IS: "From the outset Turkey has been in a deep relationship with IS. They planned the Kobani attack together.”

The KCK Executive Council presidency, in a declaration, accused the Turkish government of fascism. The declaration called Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s warnings about the Kurdish street demonstrations planned for Nov. 1 anti-Kurdish and anti-democracy. The KCK called on its supporters to escalate their struggle against the AKP’s oligarchic and fascist tendencies. The KCK said the AKP’s singular-hegemonic mindset has turned into oligarchic/fascist ideology.

Sabri Ok, a member of the KCK Executive Council, also spoke of the end of the solution process in a statement to Ozgur Gundem. He said: "If Turkey is saying that the process, which is already done for with us, is still in progress, it has to understand that the road to that passes through Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan]."

Ok did not refrain from saying that Kurds intend to launch a new wave of attacks: "If the Turkish state keeps on the same path, everybody can see the outcome. The situation will then go beyond targeting outposts and will be much more widespread. Turkey has to give it up. If it won’t be an enemy of Kurds, if it will respect the status of Rojava and truly wants the process to move forward then it must say it openly. There is already a stalled, clogged process. Northern Kurds [those in Turkey] have no status. Their will is not recognized. Their language, identity and freedom are nonexistent. The democratic authority they want is not accepted.”

Now let’s try to understand what these latest messages from Kandil signify.

Is the target of these declarations to return to the conflict atmosphere, to compel imposition of security policies and prepare the ground for the army to reappear on the stage? Is there a perception that a solution is easier with secularist nationalists/militarists? Are they winking at anti-Erdogan sentiments of Western centers? Or is the entry of some new international actors to the loop what encourages the Kurdish political movement to adopt these new positions? Are they trying to develop a new phraseology that will appeal to secularist tendencies and various societal reactions of the new generation of Kurds in Turkey and European cities?

There are more questions to be asked but a proper assessment of these messages needs a bit more time.

Is the PKK truly preparing for a new war with Turkey? Or is the limelight they have gained at Kobani, enriching the possibilities of legitimization in the West, being used to raise the bar to bargain with Turkey?

While the PKK’s combative narrative continues, representatives of the Kurdish political movement continue with their calls for a continuation of the solution process.

Pervin Buldan, the vice chair of the HDP parliamentary group, said they can call on the government to bring the solution process down from the shelf and initiate dialogue.

Escalation, tension, uncertainty and waiting are likely to prevail.

It is useful to re-emphasize: We cannot see recent harsh statements from the PKK/KCK as signaling the end of the solution process. When it comes to that crucial juncture, leaders of both the PKK/KCK and the HDP/BDP Kurdish political parties point to imprisoned leader Ocalan and say he will make the real decision.

From the outset, Ocalan has been using a language that favors solving the question with Turkey and reaching a conclusion through negotiations and dialogue. Since mid-1990s he has adhered to the same basic line. The solution process was actually a positive response of the state to his calls.

Will Ocalan change his attitude? How will he respond to the PKK’s "the process is done" remarks?

Don’t forget that the latest statements of Ocalan following the tense period were supportive of the solution process.

The Kurdish political movement is literally zigzagging about what to do and how to do it when it comes to the solution process.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Oral Calislar