The matter of interlocutorship

Abbas Vali is a renowned scholar and intellectual who has written books and articles »»

Abbas Vali is a renowned scholar and intellectual who has written books and articles on the Kurdish issue. His writings and analyses, where he has discussed the relationship between the pro-Kurdish political parties and Kurdish civil society and intellectuals, are extremely valuable. But writing and thinking about these matters will make you an easy target for the pro-Kurdish political parties.

His reasonable and constructive criticisms vis-à-vis the pro-Kurdish parties were not welcomed. Vali had an agreement with the Kurdish Federated Authority in 2005 to launch a university but had to give up on this project. He subsequently left Kurdistan. He now teaches sociology at Boğaziçi University.

The Agos newspaper published a brief interview with Vali. I believe the views expressed in this interview deserve attention and further discussion. Vali implies that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) may want international assurances and guarantees to make a deal, and suggests that the US and the EU could offer this kind of assurance.

To me, the fundamental concern of the PKK is not the lack of an international guarantee or assurance that could be offered in a potential peace process or the pursuit of such an assurance. The PKK carries out its violent acts and armed struggle because it believes that it is losing power and influence in the democratic process and normalization in Turkey, and fails to be part of this process, not because it believes that this guarantee will not be offered in the current political conjuncture. To this end, by this move, it is trying to buy some time.

During this whole process, the PKK has relied on the pro-coup circles, the militarist figures and the Kemalists who have considered internal strife and conflict to be an option. Now their cooperation with the Syrian Baath regime detaches them from the political realities in Turkey; and as evidenced by the most recent attack in Kayseri, they are becoming a useful instrument that could be used by the representatives of the Syrian Baath regime.

The violent act by the suicide bombers sent to Kayseri from Syria demonstrates the extent of the relations between the PKK and the Syrian administration.

The overall situation shows that the PKK does not tend to lay down arms. But it will be a more realistic assessment to say that the PKK has become an organization ready to fight on behalf of others. I say “others” because, at this stage, insisting on armed methods by citing the justified demands of the Kurds has nothing to do with the Kurds in Turkey alone, nor does it have anything to do with the Kurdish community in the entire Middle East.

In this case, it would not be wrong to argue that the PKK asks for international assurances and guarantees for the Baath regime in Syria rather than for itself. We could also say that part of this assurance is currently being offered by the UN, as well as states like Iran, Russia and China, and that this guarantee and support pleases the Baath members as well as the PKK administration. In the interview I referred to above, Vali underlines an important matter and offers the following analysis in respect to the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) policies:

“They are aware that introducing reforms within the army and displeasing the military would pose some problems in dealing with the Kurdish issue. They need at least partial support from the army.”

This view could be partly true. The AK Party may not want to undermine the prestige and image of the military, which has already gone through a tough process due to the coup attempts. This is particularly relevant considering that it needs the army at a time when it is struggling against terror. Albeit cautiously, it could also be argued that the official view of the AK Party on the Uludere incident could stem from this approach as well. But this does not necessarily mean that the AK Party’s policy regarding Kurds, which has changed many things, is being redefined based on security considerations. This government is the first to offer a civilian approach in the Kurdish issue and to implement this action plan.

Vali says on this matter:

“The AK Party is at a crossroads: Will it use the Kurdish issue as a tool and instrument like other governments have done before or will it change it? The AK Party recognizes the Kurdish issue but it fails to recognize the pro-Kurdish political actors.”

But we cannot ignore the fact that a government which held high-level negotiations with the PKK leadership in Oslo, but whose constructive efforts were undermined by a violent response in the Silvan attack, has made serious and visible progress in recognizing the relevant actors despite this unfriendly response, and that it overrode the official discourse and stance on this matter.

If we consider that recognition is inevitable to restart the process, we need to question the policies of the political actors asking for recognition which have become closed to any attempt at dialogue now.