BÜLENT KENEŞ

The PKK issue must be settled once and for all

Concerning violent attacks conducted by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) that escalated in the wake of the 2011 parliamentary elections, I had penned an article for this column on Aug. 18, 2011, titled “Bilingual strategy a must for resolving the Kurdish issue and defeating the PKK”(*) and argued, “Now it is time to give everyone what they want and speak to them in a language they understand.”

I had elaborated on this argument as follows: “It is now essential that we use one language for the solution of the Kurdish issue and an expansion of socio-cultural and political rights of our Kurdish citizens and a completely different language in addressing the PKK and its supporters, who are growing more acrimonious as a solution to the Kurdish issue approaches and the realization dawns that the rights granted to Kurds will restrict the PKK’s room to move. It is also high time that these two languages should be taken to the extreme. With work commencing on a new constitution, the vision of introducing constitutional guarantees for all sorts of reforms that will ensure that our Kurdish citizens can live happily, peacefully and in the most dignified manner as honorable members of this country must be quickly enacted. All socio-cultural rights including the restructuring of the state system based on the principle of decentralization, the strengthening of local administrations and the abolition of all obstacles to the use of the Kurdish language in education and local administrations must be generously granted. The campaign that is already in progress to boost economic and social development of Kurdish-dominated regions, which have long been neglected due to terrorism and other reasons, must be accelerated.

“Simultaneously with these moves, everyone who lends support to terrorist organizations and this gang of traitors that have been exploiting the Kurdish issue must be called to account for their acts by legal methods. Just as the language we will use for our Kurdish citizens should be laden with peace and compassion, the language used against the PKK and its affiliates should be equally harsh and unwavering… The state’s hand of compassion and hand of wrath and its language of peace and language of violence should work simultaneously and with equal strength. As the state welcomes our Kurdish citizens with its hand of compassion, its other hand, now decidedly tightened as a fist, must deal a fatal blow to terrorism and those who support terrorism.”

As a matter of fact, the government had tried to implement a strategy that luckily overlapped with what I had proposed, until late 2011, when 34 civilians were mistaken for terrorists and killed by military airstrikes in Şırnak’s Uludere district due to incorrect intelligence. Thus, the government implemented policies to improve the rights that our Kurdish citizens naturally, enjoy while the police and military forces, acting in coordination, dealt lethal blows to the PKK. However, this successful strategy was abandoned due the climate created by the Uludere attack, which was an apparent booby trap for the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) incomprehensibly failed to find out who devised the Uludere trap that directly targeted the government, and in addition, their “bilingual strategy” that had significantly undermined the PKK started to waver.

This hesitation was followed by a long period of stagnation in the efforts to tackle the Kurdish issue, and only recently have we seen some promising developments. For instance, in an interview independent pro-Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana boldly lent support to the government for a solution to the Kurdish issue. Almost simultaneously with her statements, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) -- which has so far positioned itself to sabotage any initiative by the ruling AKP irrespective of its content or subject matter -- came up with a plan to deal with the Kurdish issue in cooperation with the AKP. The government, on the other hand, announced that it was planning to introduce Kurdish language as an elective course in schools in a move that was considered insufficient for freeing up the use of the Kurdish language. The positive climate created by these developments which came one after another was unfortunately destroyed by the news that the PKK had killed eight soldiers and wounded 16 in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari early Tuesday morning.

Just like what we have experienced countless times in the past, terrorists staged a deadly attack against the Yeşiltaş military outpost in the district, near the country’s common border with Iraq, and the attack came at a time when hopes were high for a permanent solution to the Kurdish issue. It is thought provoking that this attack was launched hot on the heels of an interview which Murat Karayılan, the PKK military wing’s acting leader, gave to veteran journalist Avni Özgürel -- which was posted on a website and which Karayılan effectively used as a public relations opportunity for the PKK -- as during this interview, Karayılan stated that similar attacks had been conducted in the past by some local PKK groups which they could not control.

Either terrorist leader Karayılan, who managed to market himself as a full-fledged paragon of peace in the interview, is lying, or the PKK, known to have a Stalinist hierarchical organization, has turned into a tattered regional terrorist company teeming with agents of international powers, secret services and intelligence services with no apparent target or aim. In my opinion, both options apply in a conjuncture in which Iran, Syria and Iraq -- together with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian administration -- have formed an anti-Turkey axis. Thus, Karayılan, who is treated by Özgürel and the likes as a virtual saint, is lying when he says an attack in Silvan last year and similar terrorist attacks had been conducted by “local groups not controlled by the PKK” and, at the same time, the bloodthirsty PKK has turned into a heinous sub-contracting organization working for anti-Turkey powers and using the Kurdish issue to camouflage its nefarious goals.

For this reason, the government must immediately revert to the “bilingual strategy” concerning the Kurdish issue and the PKK problem that was undermined by the Uludere massacre. On one hand, it must unwaveringly implement the radical reforms that would completely solve the Kurdish issue. On the other, it must eradicate the PKK, which has turned into a tool used by some neighboring countries to block Turkey’s progress.

*See the article on http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-254199-bilingual-strategy-a-must-for-resolving-the-kurdish-issue-and-defeating-the-pkk.html

2012-06-19