The elephant in the room

The Turkish original of this article was published as

Odadaki fil on 24th August 2015.


We are facing an organization that does not want to lay down its arms.


Is there anybody who can object in any way to this statement?


Is there anybody who is capable of asserting that there is no such thing as an organization that in the process of holding peace talks with the government has not conformed to the first article of an agreement between them; has not withdrawn its armed militants beyond Turkey’s borders; instead has formed armed militia groups in towns and cities; has armed all the more; and has tried to set up a state within the state?


Is there anybody who can say that no, there is no organization out there that can undertake to violate the truce depending on regional dynamics, and whom nobody can hold accountable for that decision? 


I say that there actually is an organization that dislikes even its own civilian wing, that is capable of undertaking coup-like operations against its own politicians, thus reminding them of just who happens to be the boss.  


Is there anybody who can object to that? With all the concrete facts and evidence before us, is there anybody in his or her right mind who can assert the opposite?


Is there anybody who can insist that in Turkey and in this year of 2015, it is still legitimate to conduct politics through armed struggle?


Probably not.


Hence it is that the PKK the elephant in the middle of the room that everybody sees and is aware of, but which most people belonging to the opposition will not even breathe the name of.


In the midst of Turkey’s seemingly unending election atmosphere, to attribute the collapse of the truce and the return to armed conflict to the president (who has actually been the architect of the Solution Process) is not an analysis but a political preference.


But the elephant in the room is still sitting there and will keep sitting there regardless of which party happens to be in government. The Turkish public is no stranger to a type of politics that instead of focusing on the main question, goes off on a tangent to manufacture symbolic enemies for itself.


A certain political line, for example, that has long stubbornly bypassed a fight for cultural progress, questions of freedom and democracy, economic inequalities or the pains of rapid urbanization, sweeping them all under the rug in favor of a struggle against “religious reaction,” thereby persisting in jousting for decades against imaginary enemies, has never losy all its influence.


And the current opposition has inherited the mantle of that paradigm.


To attribute even Turkey’s most complicated problems to a single politician (without stopping to ask what that politician might represent), to reduce politics tom just hating Erdoğan – this isd what the opposition has come to.

But meanwhile, there is an elephant in that room.

An elephant that is armed. And which does not want to lay down its arms.


Turkey’s further democratization, economic development, and national security all hinge on that elephant laying down its arms.


But coming up with ideas about just how the elephant might lay down its arms is simply not part of the Turkish intelligentsia’s or the opposition’s current agenda.