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 The AKP party and its flip flop Kurdish policy 

 Opinion — Analysis
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


The AKP party and its flip flop Kurdish policy  10.10.2012   
By Dr. Aland Mizell     

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep ayyip Erdogan addresses on February 28, 2012 lawmakers of his ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Photo: Getty Images.   Read more By Dr. Aland Mizell  
October 10, 2012

The AKP Party and its Flip Flop Kurdish Policy: The Organic Ties of the PKK and the BDP, the Syrian Crisis, and a New Brand of Islam in the Region.

The Turkish government insists that the Kurdish problem and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are different entities and do not have any organic ties; therefore, they argue that no such unified problem but only disjointed problems about terrorism exist and thus should be treated separately. Consequently, the only way to eliminate terror is to kill the terrorists, which Turkey has been doing for more than three decades.

If Turkey still continues to believe that there are no organic ties between the Kurdish problem and the PKK, then why did this ongoing problem even start and why is it heating up again now? How can they stop innocent people from being killed on both sides? This kind of approach is the continuation of an assimilation policy and the denial of the Kurdish people, facts which started this armed struggle for Kurds to be recognized and for the Turkish government to give them their seized social, political, and natural rights.

If Turkey wants to have genuine peace, Ankara will talk and listen to those who cause the problem and find a middle way to solve it. If the Turkish government is to sanctify the regime’s views on the Kurds and make sure the Kurdish people will be silent, then how can the Kurds accept peace? Intolerance is itself a form of violence, an obstacle to the Kurdish and Turkish peace process, and also an obstacle to the growth of a truly democratic process.

The Middle East region has been witnessing great changes starting with the Arab Spring, and Turkey wants to have an active role in the change; it believes the rebels will easily topple the Assad regime in Syria and replace it with a Turkish-friendly Sunni regime and thereby control the Kurds in Syria. Today Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East is about dividing and ruling, based totally on a religious-ethnic- sectarian policy. Turkey does not accept the sovereignty of Iraq yet hosts the Sunni Vice President of Iraq, Tariq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in Iraq, and Tariq al-Hashemi, who supports the Syrian opposition.

Turkey is supporting extremist groups inside Iraq (Sunnis and Turkmen) and Syria (opposition groups), which is the main reason for the deterioration of the relationship between the two countries demonstrating sectarian plans for the Middle East. Turkey is transferring people from various countries including, Chechnya, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia and other Muslim countries to Syria to fight this battle and to create security challenges for Iraq and Syria. As a result of this policy, Turkish political parties have been divided, such as the CHP and the BDP, with some Islamic groups and leftists supporting the Assad regime and going against the Prime Minister’s policy to support Syrian opposition groups. Prime Minister Erdogan claims that the Assad regime is cruel in killing its people and in committing crimes against humanity, and, therefore, he must step down, a deposing that is in the national interest of Turkey.

Those who do not support the Prime Minister’s view claim the Arab Spring is a Western project to destroy Islam and to replace their version of a modern, peaceful Islam with the West rather than to maintain a traditional anti-West position. For example, Fethullah Gulen’s brand of Islam claims to be a tolerant, peaceful religion, and America and the West see it as this as well as not being anti-Israel or anti-America. Yet in its true ideology, this movement is against all that the West, specifically America, represents.

The minorities in Syria, such as Christians, are supporting the Assad regime, and they are worried about the new Fundamental Sunni government supported by Saudi Arabia and some Gulf countries. The minority Kurdish people are neutral, neither supporting Assad nor denouncing the Assad regime; however, the Turkish government is accusing the Kurdish minority there of supporting the Assad regime because we all know the new Greater Middle East Project there will not be under the Assad regime. Turkey’s main concern after the Assad regime is gone is the possibility of seeing another autonomous Kurdish region, like the KRG in Iraq, in Syria and consequently views it as a threat for Turkey.

If Turkey and the PKK had talked to each other and had some kind of peace, the Assad regime would be gone by now; the PKK, PYD, BDP and AKP would support each other; and many innocent lives would not have been killed. As a result of the arrogance of the Turkish government’s policies, innocent Kurdish people, Syrian people, and Turkish people have paid the price. The Turkish government hesitated to intervene alone in Syria and wanted the support of NATO, the US, and Western countries. Russia, China, and Iran, however, are against Western military intervention in Syria. As result of these changes, the Kurds are now an important power in the Middle East, and without the Kurdish people the Greater Middle East Project will be disastrous.

The Turkish government tries to dehumanize the PKK, especially using the current violence in Turkey: 1)to get the support of the public; 2) to promote the idea of the PKK as dehumanized people or brutes; 3) to silence the media not to give balanced and accurate news about the government and the PKK; and 4)to get financial and diplomatic support from around the world. The more Assad stays in power, the more the Kurdish people will reorganize themselves in Syria becoming more powerful, and this causes concern for Turkey. Even if Turkey takes over the Kurdish minority in Syria, causing the Kurds in Syria and the Kurds in Turkey to join together, still the winner is the Kurds.

For Turkey there is only one option and that is to sit down with the BDP and the PKK to talk to them; otherwise, the war is lost for both sides, but peace can be the winner Turkey must first respect the existence of a Kurdish nation. If Turkey wants a long-term peace with the Kurdish people and wants to be a truly democratic nation, then it should distribute democracy equally, not imposing a selective democracy. Turkey should seek answers with the PKK and the BDP about what is causing the conflict.

Turkey again started to discuss the abolition of immunity for democratically elected BDP deputies for their friendly talk with PKK members. Prime Minister Erdogan is using new methods; instead of closing down the party, the ruling administration is putting the party members in jail, so that they will not form another party. If they close the BDP, it is not good for Erdogan because he was a victim of the same policy in the past. Erdogan knows that if they close it, they will form another one, and it will be more powerful, so instead of prohibiting the party, the government is lifting the immunities of those expelled from Parliament. Since the party cannot function without its members, Ankara wants to put the members in jail.

This raised the functionality of competitive party politics in the democratization process. If the function of the BDP party in a democracy is to be representatives of the Kurdish people, and more than two and half million Kurdish people have voted for them to safeguard their interests in the Parliament, then they have a right to criticize the government; it counts very much for awareness among the people. If democracy is to be preserved as viable mode of governance, then the opposition party must fearlessly perform its roles and duties and question the government, holding them accountable to the public. They should ensure that the government does not take any steps which might have negative implications for the people that voted for them. Today the BDP party is the fourth largest party and the only Kurdish party that represents Kurdish interests in the Turkish Parliament.

The question is: will the Turkish Prime Minister now solve the Kurdish issue with dialogue? The answer is no. If Turkey is not going to solve the Kurdish issue via dialogue and instead continues to see the Kurdish issue as a terror issue, then the entire country cannot have peace. Without peace Turkey will not have an independent foreign policy in the region and cannot maintain its leadership. Turkey has a flip flop policy toward the Kurdish issues. A couple of months ago, the Turkish Prime Minister admitted, “I will not meet the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its leader Abdullah Oçalan. The Prime Minister changed his opinion, and now he is saying, “If needed I will talk to both Oçalan and the PKK, but I will not speak to the BDP,” an amazing rejection since the party is the fourth largest party in the Turkish Parliament, democratically elected, and committed to represent the Kurdish interests. Furthermore, the Turkish government is trying to abolish some of the BDP deputies’ immunity for talking to PKK members.

If the Prime Minister says he will talk to the PKK if needed, then why is he abolishing the immunity of the deputies of the BDP who live in the region and represent the interests of the Kurdish people? He also knows that the BDP is a political wing of the PKK. Why cannot he talk to them? Also, in the past the Prime Minister asked the PKK if instead of remaining on the top of the mountain killing people and using violence, they would come down as allies to defend their rights in a democratic way. I do agree with that suggestion of the Prime Minister, that the PKK should solve the Kurdish issue politically, not using violence, but the Prime Minister contradicted himself. He does not talk to those who were democratically elected by more than two and half million Kurds.

The question is: why is it so hard for the Turkish government, politicians , and some public to accept the Kurdish problem? The Turkish government and the Turkish people are too proud and thus are not ready to sit down and talk to the BDP and the PKK to solve this issue in a democratic way. Continuing to dehumanize the PKK , the BDP, and more than two and a half million is not a good method to solve the Kurds’ problems.

What is the government trying to do to solve the Kurdish issues? The Prime Minister wants to change the Constitution, to introduce a presidential system, and to have a strong centralized government, before they accept a Kurdish semiautonomous region like in the Ottoman era. Since Erdogan does not have power as of now to do all these changes, he wants to have a strong presidential system, to get more votes, as much as he wants, because the more that vote, the more powerful he is. Erdogan knows the Turkish public is not ready for him to talk about the PKK and the BDP because he does not want to jeopardize his plan for 2014. If he talks to the PKK, the number of votes he receives might decrease, and that is why he does not vote or sit at a negotiation table.

Are Erdogan and Gulenists going to support more Kurdish parties against the BDP, weaken the BDP, and support the Kemal Burkay Party against the BDP? Gulenists have infiltrated their people into the new Kemal Buraky party against the BDP party. The meaning of all this is that Erdogan is not ready to solve the Kurdish issue via dialogue and instead has flip flopped with the Kurdish issue being the main obstacle for a strong Turkey in the region. Turkey should extradite the fugitive Vice-President and stop using the sectarian policy in the region . It is the government’s duty to look at relations in its society and to create appropriate political and societal relations and to find the solutions to the Kurdish problems, so that external powers will not interfere.

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to the Kurdish Media. You may reach the author via email at: [email protected]

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  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


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