Leyla Zana: the end

Leyla Zana, a long-standing Kurdish politician, gave an interview to the Hürriyet »»

Leyla Zana, a long-standing Kurdish politician, gave an interview to the Hürriyet daily, outlining possible peace in the near future.

 As expected, Zana’s views have created hope among intellectuals. Some think that Zana knows what’s going on behind the scenes and felt the need to speak out. They think we should interpret Zana’s interview as a positive sign. In her interview, she underlined two major points. First, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the only chance to solve the Kurdish question. Second, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should reconsider its claim and accept democratic standards as part of the solution.

I don’t know whether Zana has some insider information causing her to speak out for the purpose of preparing the public opinion beforehand. What I know, however, is that Zana has very little influence over the PKK network, so it would be a grave mistake to pay too much attention to what she said. Zana is closer to Massoud Barzani than Abdullah Öcalan. Zana prefers Barzani and his approach to Öcalan and the PKK leader’s approach.

This background information itself tells us of the possibilities for peace. I don’t think there has been a chance for peace carved out by any previous negotiations. Instead, I think there is a strategy between Turkey and Barzani, and Zana is an actor in the plan that is using her influence over Kurdish society.

With her statement, Zana puts the PKK in a difficult position. First she undermines the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) network by saying the network “is just a story” and not serious. However, the PKK leadership and Öcalan have believed the KCK structure to be a stateless solution for the Kurdish question. By this statement, Zana undermines Öcalan’s proposal. Second, Zana expects the PKK to reconsider its position according to the democratization of Turkey. However, the PKK considers itself as the guardian of the Kurds. That was the reason why the previous peace attempt failed. The PKK did not accept to surrender and lay down its weapons. That is why we are facing terrorism once again.

Hence, Zana’s call to the PKK to reconsider its position and expectations is a major blow to the PKK’s previous plans. The PKK will not accept Zana’s call. Indeed, the head of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, openly criticized Zana, which is a sign that the PKK will not change its position and consider Zana’s offer.

In addition to these, there is a leadership competition between Öcalan and Zana. Zana does not consider herself as a contender to Öcalan, whereas Öcalan thinks that the West is preparing Zana as an alternative Kurdish leader. He therefore thinks of Zana as a challenger to his leadership authority. For this very reason, until the most recent election, Öcalan blocked Zana’s nomination for Parliament. Even in the last election Öcalan criticized the BDP’s intention to nominate Zana and said the list of nominations was a plot against his leadership.

Considering this leadership competition between the two gives us incentive to believe that Zana’s statement is a challenge to Öcalan’s proposal and that he will therefore not accept what Zana offers. He would even consider it to be part of a conspiracy against him. As a result, I am not so optimistic about Zana’s peace proposal. It’s more likely to be an end to her political career in the pro-PKK networks.



Columnist: EMRE USLU