Will moderate Kurds speak out? / About the Oslo Tapes

September 25, 2011 at 11:22 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Friday, September 23, 2011 – HURRIYET – MUSTAFA AKYOL

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the terrorist organization which is motivated by a bizarre blend of Kurdish nationalism and Stalinist Marxism, has gone totally mad. Since last August, their “guerillas” have been killing Turkish soldiers and policemen almost every other day. Two of their recent victims include a policeman shot while playing football and his wife who was just watching her husband. They have also killed four women who were driving to a friends’ reunion, as well as three bystanders, who fell victim to their recent bombing in Ankara. What’s worse, the “Kurdistan Freedom Falcons,” a sub-group within the PKK that the organization created in 2003 to commit its uglier crimes, proudly declared that it will freely “target civilians” from now on. “Turkey’s big cities,” they announced, “will be our main battle ground.”

It is a pity that we came to this point, especially after the Turkish government initiated a “Kurdish opening” in 2009 and sought a political settlement with the PKK. The audio tapes of the meetings between the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency, or MİT, Hakan Fidan, and three PKK representatives in Europe, which were “leaked” a few weeks ago to the Turkish media, show how much effort the government has shown. (These tapes were treated as a scandal by the opposition parties, in a how-dare-you-speak-to-the-terrorists demagoguery. But I regarded them as the evidence of a commendable effort by the Turkish authorities to solve the “Kurdish issue” peacefully.)

In fact, why the PKK escalated its violence at a time when Turkey became most progressive on the Kurdish issue is a curious question. We even know that “the state,” as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put it, had been in fruitful negotiation with the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, until two months ago. But then, for no apparent reason, the PKK began to attack again, only to provoke Turkey to hit back by bombing the organization’s headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

There are various theories in Turkey on why the PKK is so trigger-happy. Some, including me, think that the organization is simply too fanatic and ambitious, and is more interested in reaping huge benefits for itself, rather than merely make progress on Kurdish rights. Others believe that there are factions within the organization, some of which are manipulated by outside forces – such as “the deep state,” or Syria or Israel, countries which dislike Turkey these days for different reasons.

The argument on the Kurdish side is different: The arrests of hundreds of members of the KCK – the urban wing of the PKK – since 2009, people say, made the PKK enraged. I agree that there have been some excesses in those arrests, like in almost every prosecution in Turkey, but there wasn’t a crackdown on the KCK without reason: Their militants had been burning buses in Istanbul, or attacking the bureaus of the Justice and Development Party in the Kurdish southeast, in which the PKK wants to claim total control.

In short, the PKK, with all its offshoots, continues to be a ruthless organization which prefers violence to peace. The key question is how the people it claims to represent, Turkey’s Kurds, will respond to this. The PKK has die-hard supporters among the Kurds, of course. But there is a much larger segment which used to have some sympathy for the organization for its resistance to “Turkish oppression,” but is now growingly disturbed by its ongoing violence despite all the reforms on the Turkish side. Early this week, a “Kurdistani Conference” held in Diyarbakır signaled that uneasiness, as many of the speakers criticized the PKK’s violence and called on the organization to halt its attacks. “In the past, such criticisms of the PKK were not voiced in Diyarbakır, or were quickly silenced,” said Oral Çalışlar, a columnist for daily Radikal who reported on the event. We need more of those criticisms from Kurds who disapprove of violence. And we need at least a slightly saner PKK, in order to solve the “Kurdish issue” with peace.

*For all of Mustafa Akyol’s works, including his recent book, ‘Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty,’ visit his blog, TheWhitePath.com. On Twitter, follow him at @AkyolinEnglish.


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