War to gain psychological superiority

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) staged another violent attack on Sept. »»

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) staged another violent attack on Sept. 18 against 200 unarmed civilian conscripts who were being driven by buses to their military posts in the eastern province of Bingöl.

Ten died while 70 others were injured. There is an unprecedented surge this year in PKK attacks against both Turkish civilian and military targets. The current picture of terrorism makes us lose any hope we might have in seeing a waning in this 28-year-old fight against the PKK, which has so far resulted in around 50,000 deaths and continues to rise.

This latest PKK attack reveals that the terrorist organization seeks to prevent the Turkish state from gaining psychological superiority on the ground so that it can resume efforts to find a political solution to the Kurdish question other than military ones. The PKK pursues a brutal war strategy to make the Turkish state bow to its conditions for a solution that would be unacceptable by Ankara. The PKK has already betrayed, in cooperating with illegal deep elements within the Turkish state, the government's courageous move to initiate a dialogue with PKK operatives in Oslo in 2010.

The PKK attacked a military outpost in Silvan in July 2011, undermining the unknown secret talks that the Turkish state had been conducting with some of its affiliates in Oslo under British mediation.

At the time of the Silvan attack, the public was not aware of the Oslo secret talks. But the state knew, and could not stomach the fact that despite the Turkish government's efforts to end violence through peaceful means, the PKK had resumed violence with the Silvan attack.

It was in September 2011 that an almost 50-minute-long voice recording revealed for the first time the secret talks between representatives of Turkish intelligence and members of the PKK in Oslo. I am now confident in saying that the Oslo talks were sabotaged by radical PKK and Turkish deep state elements, both of which have a lot to gain from the prolongation of the war at the expense of instability in Turkey and the loss of thousands of lives. As a matter of fact, it is known that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first initiated talks with the PKK in 2005.

Not surprisingly, the search for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question is replaced by security-first policies by the state after the sabotage of the Oslo talks.

Both the PKK's Silvan attack and the Turkish F-16 bombardment of Turkish-Kurdish smugglers, mistaken for PKK terrorists, in Uludere in late December of last year have hence shifted psychological superiority on the ground from the government to the terrorist organization. Thirty-four Turkish Kurds died as a result of the F-16 bombardment and no satisfactory explanation has been given so far over this grave incident, which was another blow to any effort to solve the Kurdish question peacefully.

Despite the dramatic escalation of the PKK insurgency in the past year, it is important that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday called for the PKK to lay down its arms and that in return, security operations would be halted. The PKK responded to that call the next day with yet another brutal attack against unarmed civilian conscripts in Bingöl.

The government can still resist the PKK-led tactics of resorting to brutal violence by concentrating on Kurdish reforms.

As a matter of fact, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict resolution organization, said in a report it released on Sept. 11 that Turkey needs to regain the initiative after the PKK insurgency's aggressive escalation of violence and implement a long-term conflict resolution strategy that addresses Kurdish grievances.

Hugh Pope, the author of the report “Turkey: The PKK and a Kurdish Settlement,” said, “The government and mainstream media should resist the impulse to call for all-out anti-terrorist war and focus instead on ensuring rights and justice together with Turkey's legitimate Kurdish leaders, principally working through Parliament and political parties.”

“The Kurdish movement must pressure the PKK to halt its terrorist attacks, and the government must reform oppressive laws that jail non-violent Kurdish movement politicians,” Pope also added.

I believe that miracles can happen during bad times.



Columnist: LALE KEMAL