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July 06, 2012, Friday

Is the PKK panicking over Zana’s political move?

Amid ongoing debates over how to handle the decades-old Kurdish issue, independent pro-Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana has met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and told him that the Oslo negotiations -- between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) -- should continue, in order to find a viable solution to the problem.

Zana’s move has been welcomed by almost all columnists, for her brave stance against the PKK and for her faith in the possibility of a political solution, while officials from the PKK and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have expressed discontent with her new stance.

Yalçın Akdoğan, columnist for the Star daily, is frustrated by the silence of Kurdish politicians -- with the exception of Zana -- about the PKK’s overshadowing and blocking of every proposed solution. “Every single person in the PKK says something different these days. Duran Kalkan, a member of the PKK’s leadership structure, says ‘the only way out for Kurds is arms and rebellion,’ while senior PKK leader Murat Karayılan says he is not against peaceful approaches. Kalkan says they are currently actively operating to topple the government and that the Silvan attack that took place during the Oslo negotiations in 2010 was a planned operation, while Karayılan says the attack was out of their control. These contradictory statements indicate both a disconnection and disagreement within the PKK and also render the BDP’s political existence and democratic discourse meaningless. But no one from the BDP comes up and says, ‘It is our job to carry out the political struggle of the Kurds,’ and criticizes the terrorist organization even slightly and disowns its statements. Fear spread by leading figures of the PKK such as Kalkan, Cemil Bayık and Fehman Hussein, who revere terror, takes other political actors captive, and no one dares raise their voice against this situation, except Zana. Her hope for Erdoğan, in a way, reflects a hope for democratic politics,” says Akdoğan.

According to Abdülkadir Selvi from Yeni Şafak, contradictory statements from the PKK show that the terrorist organization is confused and panicking in the face of a process of dialogue that has been recently launched, marked by Zana’s meeting. Despite the BDP’s unhappiness with Zana’s move, she is one of the most influential Kurdish politicians, and such a bold move on her part has confused the PKK leaders, he says.

Hasan Bülent Kahraman of the Sabah daily declares that Zana is covertly acting under the coordination of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Stating that after the failure of the Oslo meetings, which were halted as a result of the Silvan attack, Öcalan could not launch a procedure like the Oslo meetings on his own initiative, Kahraman argues that Öcalan covertly supports Zana’s attempts to launch a similar process. And unless Karayılan plans another bloody attack and the government gives up, we will soon see another Oslo meeting, Kahraman believes.

Radikal’s Cengiz Çandar quotes statements from Karayılan: “Just hours after the meeting with Zana, the government vowed not to give up its fight against terrorism and against those supporting and feeding it. If the meeting with Zana had been more constructive and the government had said something like ‘We want to solve this issue through dialogue. We don’t want to see anyone as an enemy,’ then we would think that the meeting indeed turned out to be effective.” Çandar writes that these statements prove that Karayılan harbored expectations for the meeting but was disappointed not see them realized. In this regard, Zana’s initiative was the right move, and persistence in her initiative as well as the government’s determination to continue to hold these kinds of meetings is necessary at this point.

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