peace initiative – ensuring that once rebels drop weapons, they
are not picked up again
expressed in this commentary are solely those of the
Turkey’s peace initiative – ensuring that
once rebels drop weapons, they are not picked up
April 16, 2013
The turn of the year has created a unique
environment and momentum in Turkey for solving the
age-old Kurdish question, better than any time in
the history of the Turkish republic, culminating in
Abdullah Ocalan’s Newroz ceasefire declaration and
an on-going peace process.
While the current progress and general rhetoric is
certainly positive, many obstacles lie head and the
initiative can be easily derailed.
It has taken bold steps from both sides to get this
far and settling a three decade armed struggle
cannot be achieved without courageous steps,
determination and real compromise and desire. While
many in Turkey continue to believe there is no
Kurdish question and what remains to be resolved is
a “terrorist” problem, true resolution and
reconciliation will only come with the
acknowledgement that the Kurdish question and the
PKK problem are one and the same.
The details of peace talks and agreements, other
than through leaked press reports, have been
generally concealed. The government needs to be
clear and transparent in the negotiations and with
practical steps it is willing to take.
These steps must mean wholesale gestures to the
Kurds through parliamentary measures and not via a
piecemeal carrot and stick approach.
The current debate about the withdrawal of PKK
rebels within Turkey highlights the current
sensitivity that continues to plague Turkey. The AKP
government has refused demands to enshrine the
disarmament and withdrawal of PKK rebels into
legislation. It remains conscious of nationalist
reservations or giving the PKK nemesis credibility
or acclaim through any “public” withdrawal.
In the grander scheme of things, dropping of guns
will not be an issue and it is likely that in
Ocalan’s latest letter to be announced that he will
push the rebels to disarm before withdrawing. It is
ensuring that these guns are not picked up gain that
is the issue.
If Turkish government concessions fail to
materialise or appease the greater portion of
the process can easily unravel. Furthermore, without
long-term peace and democratic measures, reflected
in a constitution that deliver true rights for the
Kurds and a level of regional autonomy enveloped
with economy growth and investment in the south
east, another armed group may simply fly the flag.
With new democratic channels, a constitution that
protects Kurdish identity and new jobs, much needed
public services and an improved standard of living,
a new natural political climate can take hold in the
Kurdish regions of Turkey.
Indeed the onset of a new Turkey is a win-win for
Turks and Kurds, but for the PKK it has to realise
that an end of violence is also win-win for all
parts of Kurdistan. The new Kurdistan Region of
Syria was hampered by its association with the PKK
and a harsh line of Turkey. Peace in Turkey will
also result in constructive steps by Ankara with
The anti-Assad stance of the Turkish government led
to a somewhat predictable reinvigoration of Damascus
ties with the PKK serving to “punish” and
destabilise Turkey. The influence of PKK peace
negotiations on the PYD can arguably already be seen
with escalating tensions between YPG Kurdish forces
and regime forces.
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who
for many is staking his political career in the
rapprochement with Ocalan, is seeking to make a
number of gains in one move.
It cannot ignore the onset of Syrian Kurdish
autonomy which raises the nationalist stake for all
Kurds and in the fast changing Middle East and
surrounded by all four parts of Kurdistan, it can
risk animosity with the Kurds at its peril.
Last but not least, peace with the PKK removes one
remaining thorn in the already strong and prosperous
relations between the Kurdistan Region and Ankara.
With expanding energy ties with Erbil and
unprecedented trade volumes not to mention the
importance of strategic and political alliances with
the Kurdistan Regional Government, Ankara can
ill-afford to let out-dated nationalist principles
mark the growing reality of a new middle Eastern
order and with it the rise of the Kurds. Ankara can
either ignore the Kurdish nationalist reality to its
detriment or harness it for the betterment of
Turkey’s regional and strategic goals.
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel is a London-based freelance
writer and analyst, a regular
contributing writer for Ekurd.net website. Ismaeel whose primary focus and
expertise is on the Kurds, Iraq and Middle Eastern
current affairs. The main focus of his writing is to
promote peace, justice and increase awareness of the
diversity, suffering and at times explosive mix in
Iraq and the Middle East.
Most recently he has produced work for the
Washington Examiner, Asian Times, The Epoch Times,
Asia News, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Kurdish Globe,
Hewler Post, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), KurdishMedia, PUK Online and OnlineOpinion.
He has achieved seminar recommended readings for Le
High University (Pennsylvania) and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. His work has been
republished extensively elsewhere on the Internet.
He is a longtime contributing writer and columnist for Ekurd.net. You
can visit Bashdar's website at (www.bashdar.co.uk)
and reach the author via email at:
First published on Kurdish Globe
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expressed in this commentary are solely those of the