A few days before the Dağlıca attack, the leader of the PKK gave an interview to a Turkish journalist, Avni Özgürel, and stated that the PKK does not plan attacks against military outposts. What the PKK does, he said, is protect themselves against military operations. In addition, PKK heavyweight Murat Karayılan said the PKK is standing where the peace negotiations collapsed and is ready to resume them.
Furthermore, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced that the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, could be released on house arrest if the PKK lays down its arms. More importantly, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu supports the idea of releasing Öcalan on house arrest.
While the political climate has been so positive about resuming possible peace negotiations, the PKK’s attack must have once again ruined everything.
There are two theories to explain why the PKK coordinated such an attack at this time. The first theory suggests that there are groups within the PKK who do not want to achieve peace because they are benefiting from the war. Thus this group is sabotaging the peace plan; whenever the parties involved come close to establishing peace, this group emerges to destroy any such possibility.
The second theory suggests that the PKK does not want peace but uses the term to gain some sympathy for its cause and political breathing space; however, in reality it wants to wait at least until the end of the Syrian crisis to see what the outcome will be.
However, I think the debate within the PKK is much more complicated than this. First, there are groups within the PKK that have challenged the authority of Öcalan and resumed terrorism against his will; they need to maintain the violence in order to survive. Thus for these groups the fight is a matter of life and death. They need to fight for their own future.
Second, the Syrian and Iranian influence on the PKK is well known. Therefore, the PKK’s fight is not separate from the fight in Syria and the policies of Iran in the region. One needs to include Iranian-designed strategies in the equation when trying to understand why the PKK staged an attack at this particular time.
Third, neither the hawks nor the doves in the PKK want to have peace negotiations at this time. There is a group within the PKK that wants to declare a “tactical cease-fire,” and to wait and see what happens in Syria. There is another group that believes even a “tactical cease-fire” would deepen the hope of peace, and that, once lost, the opportunity of employing violence would not be easy to regain. So the debate within the PKK is not about resuming peace negotiations but rather about a possible cease-fire.
Certain Turkish intellectuals, some of whom were part of the peace proposal earlier negotiated between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and Öcalan, have distorted this simple fact and presented events as though we were on the brink of peace.
The Dağlıca attack has not only proved wrong those intellectuals who promoted this false perception of peace, but also showed that negotiations for peace are impossible while the PKK units remain inside Turkey. There should therefore be a precondition for starting negotiations: Leave the PKK units outside the country.