ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ

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ORHAN KEMAL CENGİZ
June 21, 2012, Thursday

What does the PKK really want?

I can understand all the fear, hatred and distrust that drive the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its militants into action. I know very well the painful history of the Kurds in Turkey. I know very well the dirty tricks the Turkish state has played on Kurds in the past. I know how people were tortured and how Kurds’ language, culture, identity and everything was denied by Turkey. So I understand Kurds’ motivation to join the PKK.

There is something, though, no one can really understand, and it is this: Whenever there is a real hope for a final solution to the Kurdish question, the PKK carries out a bloody attack on border military installations. It certainly blocks the way that leads to a final solution, including an amnesty for PKK members, turning the isolation of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in prison into a house arrest and so on.

Sabotaging the peace process is not unique to the PKK -- the Turkish deep state played its role in the past as well. Just read the diaries of Mr. Abdullah Öcalan who expresses his surprise at how high ranking military personal who had frequent contacts with him rejected the total withdrawal of PKK from Turkey’s borders. Öcalan states that members of the Turkish military wanted him to instruct the PKK to keep some forces within Turkey’s borders. This may be unbelievable and even shocking for an ordinary Turkish nationalist, but this was true, and we can understand why. The PKK and its armed struggle was always a kind of leverage for the Turkish military. Through this leverage they were able to manipulate the political system by convincing people that Turkey’s unity was in danger, the country was going through exceptional circumstances and so on. Therefore, the Turkish military and the deep state never wanted to see a “final solution” to this problem, which of course also indicates giving some rights to Kurds as well. Thus, they preferred a low profile war to peace; they only wanted to be able to contain this war within certain limits. This policy also continued after the capture and imprisonment of Mr. Öcalan.

It is not a coincidence that all these high-ranking military personnel that were constantly meeting and manipulating Mr. Öcalan are now behind bars due to their alleged connection to the clandestine Ergenekon organization. Consequently, in a sense, we can say that the Ergenekon trials and the liquidation of military guardianship in Turkey have seriously limited the Turkish deep state’s capacity to manipulate armed conflict and the peace process.

There were only two politicians who approached this problem with a real wish to solve it. The first one was former president Turgut Özal, who survived an armed assassination attack and who died under suspicious circumstances. The second person who made some real attempts to reach a final solution for the Kurdish question is undoubtedly Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is prime minister now and has been in power since 2002.

His government not only introduced some reforms in relation to the Kurdish question, albeit they were not radical enough, but also his bureaucrats carried out negotiations with representatives of the PKK in many different places and on many different levels, the most well known of which was the Oslo summit. Erdoğan sent one of his closest assistants, Mr. Hakan Fidan, currently undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), to Oslo. Apparently, quite a detailed road map was reached in this summit. What happened after it was a complete disaster: The PKK carried out an unprovoked attacked and killed 13 soldiers in Silvan. After a while Oslo summit transcripts were leaked, and the government found itself in a very difficult position.

Just a few days ago journalist Avni Özgürel published an interview with Murat Karayılan, the second man after Öcalan in the PKK. Mr. Karayılan denies all responsibility for the PKK in these attacks and in this leaking of transcripts. He said this Silvan attack was carried out by some “marginal groups” in the PKK. He said the only thing they want is peace. As you remember, prominent Kurdish figure Ms. Leyla Zana also expressed her wish for peace and gave quite strong messages along this line. In a matter of a few days following these peaceful messages, we witnessed another act of sabotage by the PKK again. On June 19 in Dağlica the PKK killed nine soldiers and left 18 wounded. Was this attack also carried out by “marginal” groups in the PKK? Three hundred PKK militants joined this PKK attack; apparently, they had been preparing for this for a long time. Once again while different actors are giving “peace” messages, the PKK is attacking.

Are they doing this for the language rights of the Kurds? For more cultural rights? To protect Kurds from repression? For what reason did they kill so many people? Can anyone engage in negotiations with such an organization whose leaders say some things and its militant do the complete opposite?

It is quite clear that a very strong current in the PKK wants to escalate violence and does not want to achieve peace under any circumstances. I have criticized this government for not being brave enough to take bolder steps in solving Kurdish questions. But with this PKK at hand, is it really possible to talk about peace?

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