The Turkish original of this article was published as Öcalan devreye girerse… on 13th June 2015.
The election results are capable of generating solutions as well as conflict and chaos. Similarly, to judge by the intense television debates of the last few days, it is becoming clear to all of us that there is no such thing as a unique solution, and that various alternatives are on the table. When seen from the perspective of “democratization” and “the solution of the Kurdish question,” an AKP-HDP coalition appears to one of the best options.
But it is also clear that especially through their recent campaign calculations, both parties have swung to opposite extremes. The HDP adopted a strategy of “We are going to make sure that you don’t become president [in a presidential system]” in order to court anti-AKP and anti-Erdoğan voters. But of course, it might not be adequate to attribute this outlook of the HDP purely to an election strategy.
As for the AKP leadership, anxious that in reaction to the Solution Process, some nationalist votes might be shifting to the MHP, they adopted a harshly nationalistic discourse over the last few months, which came on top of the otherizing language that President Erdoğan began to display from Kobanî onwards. Indeed it is even possible to assert that the AKP’s “pro-solution backbone” appears to have been fractured in the process.
This is now a new era
To what extent is the gulf that has emerged between the AKP and the HDP over the last few weeks due to the election campaign and outcome; alternatively, to what extent is it more deeply structural? This, of course, is endlessly debatable. But one way or the other, it is clear that a new situation has arisen as of early morning on 8th June. It is now time to set policies based on the current picture.
As I was thinking of writing something along these lines, I came across the remarks made on serbestiyet.com by my journalist colleague Günay Aslan (who had to leave Turkey and live abroad for many years because of the Kurdish question). Günay is an experienced name of Kurdish journalism, and was initially seeking an HDP nomination from Van. I see his comments as capable of shedding some light on the situation.
In assessing the post-June 7 picture from the perspective of both the AKP and the HDP, Günay Aslan emphasizes the following points: “(…) while life itself has laid the foundations for a policy course conforming to objective requirements and also created a suitable framework for a corresponding type of politician, the new subjects [actors] that have emerged are not (or are incapable of) acting accordingly.”
“The HDP and the AKP,” he adds, “are incapable of solving the contradictions and conflicts between them. They are incapable of overcoming their old habits and a politics built on antagonism. Hence it is that instead of building the future together, they keep trying to overwhelm and strike each other down. But clearly, one has to see that this is futile, and that where one of them loses the other cannot win either.”
“The two main protagonists of the new era, the Kurds and the Islamists,” Günay Aslan argues, “will either win together, or — just like a century ago — lose together. (…) The Solution Process has imposed heavy responsibilities on these two vectors for achieving a voluntary togetherness based on freedom, equality, and brotherhood. (…) Hence both the HDP and the AKP have to make a reassessment, to reach a compromise axed on the Solution Process, and to jointly create a new constitution that will lead us to a democratic Turkey. For otherwise, new crises seem inevitable.”
With regard to the “hostility to Erdoğan,” too, Günay Aslan has something striking to say: “It is well known that beneath the opposition to Erdoğan and to the AKP in certain circles, there lies the opposition to Öcalan and to the Solution Process. (…) The [Gülen] Congregation and other actors of the old Turkey oppose Erdoğan primarily for having started the İmralı process with Öcalan. This is why they want [to plunge the country into] chaos. The PKK’s leader saw this way back and warned the Kurdish political movement. Noting that the Kurdish question was at the root of the conflict between the Congregation and the AKP, Öcalan has repeatedly noted that “They want to liquidate me, too, along with Erdoğan.”
The Öcalan ban needs to be lifted
As Günay Aslan, too, points out, a coalition that would be capable of prioritizing the Solution Process and the drafting of a new constitution is likely to put its stamp on the primary direction that Turkey will take. Observations to the effect that the “Kurds and the Islamists are the two main protagonists of the new era” are significant, as is everything that Günay has to say about the Solution Process and the goal of a new constitution. No scripts to be proposed after this point can be judged independently of the Solution Process and a new constitution.
It is not out of the question for Abdullah Öcalan to exert his influence in favor of “the PKK laying down its arms and for some new moves between the HDP and the AKP.” Could the calls now coming from the HDP side be a signal in that direction?
Then of course, we also have to ask the following: Just why is Öcalan’s isolation is being perpetuated?