What to do about the Kurdish question?

Düşünün ki yüzde elli oy almış olan parti ‘hatalar yaptık’ tespitinden hareketle özeleştiriye yönelirken, apaçık bir yenilginin altında kalmış olanlar hala kendi dışlarından bahane arayabiliyorlar. Sadece bu bile AKP’nin bu ülkede iktidarı hak eden tek siyasi hareket olduğunun ve mümkünse bu iktidarı paylaşmamasında yarar olduğunun kanıtı.

I am still unable to comprehend the logic of digging trenches and setting up barricades in those towns and cities where [on 7th June] the HDP had got its highest vote, and then getting the local mayors to declare “self-government” — resulting in nothing but getting them in prison. I cannot establish any connection whatsoever between all these actions and the HDP’s muted mutterings about “the autonomy of local governments.”


The PKK launched a strategic experiment. It was unable to get the backing it had hoped for — neither from the people nor from any international powers. In politics, there is usually a high price to be paid for strategic mistakes — and all the more so if violence is involved. This time, however, it was the popular mass support behind the HDP that had to shoulder most of the cost. Their children got killed, their homes were burned and wrecked, their economy was shattered.     


What the PKK has to do is to revert to its line as it stood at the beginning of the Solution Process. During the 2013 Newroz celebrations, Abdullah Öcalan proclaimed to the hundreds of thousands gathering in Diyarbakır’s main square that “for the PKK, the period of armed struggle in Turkey was over, and a period of political struggle was beginning.” This call was warmly welcomed by virtually the entire Kurdish people.     


The PKK has to keep its promise

to withdraw from Turkish soil 


As Murat Karayılan would later confess, the PKK had said  that they were accepting “the request to pull out of Turkey in order not to oppose Öcalan.” They had held a press conference at Kandil to announce that they had  begun to withdraw their fighting forces from Turkey, and that this would be concluded by September. They didn’t do so. Instead, they claimed that “Turkey had not kept its promises.”     


Withdrawal was a strategic decision 


We for our part have also been critical about Turkey not undertaking this or that move, or generally moving too slowly on the road to change. But Öcalan’s view that “in Turkey the armed struggle is over” (which they too agreed with) was [not a tactical but] a strategic move.  


The PKK has to announce that it is going to implement the 2013 “decision to withdraw from Turkish territory.” This must now be regarded as a basic and indispensable move necessary for a peaceful solution and the Solution Process to be put back on the table.


A second stage 


If the PKK were to go back to the year 2013, the minimal conditions needed for “everything to begin from scratch” might jell together yet again.


If the PKK were to declare that it would be “laying down its arms vis-à-vis Turkey,” and to establish a credible calendar to that end, this could have a very positive impact on both domestic and regional developments. In both eastern and western Turkey, winds of freedom, democracy, equality and fraternity could start blowing yet again.  


As long as there is a PKK waging war against Turkey, Turkey’s relations with Kurds all over the region are likely to be adversely affected. The opposite, however, might lead to the opening of a new era between the Kurdish movement in the region, including Rojava, and Turkey. 


It would be that much easier to bring all democratic reforms, new steps in the Solution Process, or the reinforcement of local governments, to the negotiation table. 


If the Kurds’ transformative energies were to march in step with Turkey, so that a “desire to solve all questions together” were to emerge and a partnership were to arise over regional questions, this would have profound implications for the whole region’s future. 


What falls to the HDP’s lot


With all the lessons that it might draw from its recent experience, the HDP could assume new roles in order to help ensure that the Solution Process gets back on track. The HDP rank-and-file know better than anybody else just how big a disaster the PKK’s actions have caused for the Kurds after 7th June. Hence they are the ones who can also foresee better than all others what benefits a Kurdish movement that looks to realize its destiny with and inside Turkey is capable of achieving for the Kurds themselves as well as the entire region.


It has been a bad six months. The west as well as the east of the country have suffered. Then the people have taken a stand through the 1st November elections.  


Let me repeat what I said at the outset: For the sake of a solution and so that a peaceful atmosphere can be re-established, first the PKK has to declare that it will pull out of Turkey, and establish a credible a calendar for this withdrawal. 


After which all else is likely to be easier, and new possibilities may arise.