Everyone had made statements concerning a solution to the Kurdish problem. However, the state is finally becoming actively involved in the issue, which will hopefully lead to a solution. The prime minister's words, though not clear enough, are very important. The prime minister made three important points, one of which is very clear while the other two are not. The clear point mentioned stated that steps must be taken to find a solution. The prime minister has not made it clear, however, if he will talk with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Abdullah Öcalan as a means of solving the problem. He also was not clear about the punishment for those who do not cooperate in solving the Kurdish issue.
In the beginning President Abdullah Gül's hope-inspiring statements, despite attempts by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) -- known for its harsh stance on the Kurdish issue -- to stop proposals for a solution, along with statements made by PKK representatives in support of a solution, inspired hope for a resolution. The prime minister's words about “the Kurdish initiative” allude to the hope that the issue will be resolved by the end of this year.
Strategies and actors
Firstly, we need to answer the question “Who has the strategic upper hand?” This question requires a comparison between the strategies of the two main actors -- the government and the PKK. The first actor is the government. The actors in the government include President Gül, who will appear to be more active in resolving this issue in order to share this heavy responsibility, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Soldiers will also demonstrate harmonious behavior with the prime minister in order to ease his burden. But all of this will not change the reality that the real responsibility will belong to the prime minister. He will make the decisions, and his orders will be followed, including a possible amnesty plan from Parliament. The other actors in the state will either ease or hinder the prime minister's decisions. The president will help ease the situation while the MHP will make decisions more difficult. The Republican People's Party (CHP) will be a party that will make the situation easier for Erdoğan, while the nationalist deputies of the party will inhibit him.
The other side, the PKK, will lay down its arms and move towards peace. However, this decision is not as simple as it seems. The prime minister's strategy is simple: conducting a series of legal and administrative reforms that will guarantee Kurd's their language, their rights and their freedoms. The second part of the strategy is a general amnesty and drafting a plan for the elimination of the PKK. When the government takes these steps, it will have fulfilled its responsibilities. These steps are seemingly simple; however, they are very difficult to enact. The prime minister's words show that as one of the main actors, the state has mobilized itself to utilize this strategy.
Representation after the solution
The PKK's strategy, on the other hand, is very complex; it rests on calculations and trying to find a balance between obtaining results for the group and obtaining peace and stability for the Kurds. A solution means the abolition of the PKK. When arms are laid down, there will no longer be a PKK. The Kurdish political movement will be represented first and foremost by the Democratic Society Party (DTP). The complex strategy of the PKK means the creation of order following the solution. The PKK's leadership is most likely in fear. The PKK is the most important representative of the Kurds. Today, they represent approximately a third of the Kurds and about half of the Kurds in Turkey's southeastern region. But there is a strong possibility that they will lose their representative abilities following a solution. The end of the conflict and the removal of weapons will pave the way for a Kurdish political movement. Peace will narrow the PKK's effectiveness and rattle its charisma and authority, which depends on an environment of conflict.
The PKK has foresight and recognizes this fact. The PKK members are trying to be the sole partner in the solution devised by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). If they are able to become the sole participant in this solution, the PKK will continue to have a representative ability over Kurds, becoming a force that has laid down its arms and transformed into the Kurdish Democratic Confederation (KCK). This is the reason they want Abdullah Öcalan, who is imprisoned on İmralı Island, to be a party in this matter.
The PKK's strategy of being a participant will hinder the solution. If Öcalan participates, the PKK will continue to have power over the Kurdish people. The PKK most likely wants Öcalan to be a participant not because of their allegiance to Öcalan but because of his symbolic significance in their search for legitimacy. It is also likely that Kurdish political representatives who, like the DTP, require no such efforts to gain legitimacy, are supporting this strategy because they are convinced that this method will bear no positive results.
Who is the addressee?
As the DTP staff will have predicted, the government will not allow Öcalan to participate. The government will not allow any of the PKK representatives or even the DTP as parties in the matter. The government will only improve the democratic and legal standards in a way that will solve Kurds' concerns and grant a general amnesty. There is no reason why the government should bargain with the PKK or Öcalan.
Then, logically speaking, there will be a problem that the PKK will have to resolve. What can the PKK do after the government meets the Kurds' needs? There is a very small chance that they can or will reignite the use of force. If the PKK is not able to object to a solution and is not able to participate, it will have to accept the results. This is what the Kurdish problem proves. Turkey has a Kurdish problem, not a PKK problem.
The expectations that the PKK have are not right. The government will not allow Öcalan or the DTP to participate in discussions about solving in the Kurdish issue. The government will not sit at the negotiating table with anyone. It will not bargain with anyone. Nevertheless, the government will be able to solve the problem.
Paradoxically, the acceptance of the PKK and Öcalan as participants would have complicated the issue of resolving the Kurdish problem for two reasons. Firstly, it would have irritated the population wounded by PKK terror, and secondly, it would only have solved the PKK problem and not the Kurdish problem.
There is no possibility that Öcalan will say something different from his previous comments when he announces a solution on Aug. 15.
The necessary steps are the ones made by the government. One step has now been taken. Now we must make sure the solution satisfies the Kurds and helps heal their wounds. The debate over “Who will be the participants?” is not a necessary in order to find a solution.