The soundest method is always trial and error. The PKK made its first move in İskenderun on May 31. As the proclaimed “moderate war” goes on, the PKK leaders revise their tactics based on the reactions they receive. And the first reaction: Kurds do not want violence. By resorting to violence, the PKK is losing its public support.
The “moderate war” which was launched with the PKK’s İskenderun attack has no strategic target. A war without a clear strategy will bring only bloodshed, even for a terrorist organization. What will the PKK gain by killing people? Even the PKK leaders in Kandil cannot answer this question. The PKK is trying to protect its organizational structure and interests. But once the evil forces are released from Pandora’s box, they acquire a somewhat autonomous personality and won’t go back in the box. The PKK now has a structure that is independent of the circumstances which once made it viable. With this independent structure, it seeks to adapt to the changing conditions in Turkey as well as on a global scale. Thus, the conclusion we can arrive at today: Even if Turkey can settle its Kurdish issue, this may not necessarily solve the PKK issue. On the other hand, without solving the Kurdish issue, Turkey cannot solve any problem. The Kurdish issue can be settled only via a legal accord to which everyone would readily accede while the terrorism issue can be terminated only through a common political wisdom that will not flicker even in the face of extremely violent attacks.
Can the PKK stop its own terror?
“Which PKK?” one should ask. As with all illegal organizations, there are coordination and discipline problems within the PKK. PKK members who believe that weapons give them power do not want the war to end. They utter war cries whenever there is a problem in the political arena. They were the group most uneasy with the cease-fire that ended on May 31. On the other hand, the members of the legal political wing, such as those who seek political careers in the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), want peace to come as quickly as possible. The first group looks for excuses while the latter is helpless. Moreover, there are some groups who would stick to their weapons even if the PKK completely laid down arms. They are lying low and waiting to wage war against the PKK. The attacks in Reşadiye and Sarıyayla that occurred during the cease-fire are said to have been conducted by these marginal groups. In the past, 33 soldiers were killed on the Bingöl freeway in 1993, falling victim to these marginal groups’ desire to maintain the war.
The PKK offers “the addressee issue” as an excuse for the war it has launched. In order to urge the state to accept it as an addressee at the bargaining table, it attacks military targets purely for tactical purposes, it says. The logic is simple: The martyr funerals will strip the government of its popular support, making it agree to bargain with the PKK in order to stop the terrorism. The logic may be simple, but things are not as easy as they may seem. Most important of all, even if the state agrees to bargain with the PKK, its addressee does not have the representative capability or power to put an end to terrorism. An addressee who cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for the Reşadiye and Sarıyayla attacks cannot bargain with anyone.
The opposition’s policy
The current picture is largely the work of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) since it has condemned and strong criticized all the steps the government has taken from the beginning. Eventually, when the return of PKK members via the Habur border crossing caused a big fuss, the government had to give up. This was because the opposition’s harsh rhetoric was undermining the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) voter base. When the MHP dealt the first blow to the meeting of intellectuals that gathered one year ago as the first sign of the democratic initiative and defamed the intellectuals who attended the meeting as “12 bad men,” this shocked everyone. Then it started a very strongly worded campaign charging the AK Party with treason. It is safe to argue that this campaign stopped the AK Party and made it backpedal. It can also be said that the former leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had caused a similar effect. The CHP leader’s criticisms were basically in the same vein as those of the MHP leader. Thus, the AK Party was left alone in its quest to solve the Kurdish issue.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli describes the recent PKK attacks as having “increased because of the Kurdish initiative.” He attributes the escalating terror to the AK Party’s initiative policy. The PKK, on the other hand, claim that they have launched a war because there has been no initiative. Who to believe?
It is impossible to debate whether the initiative has given rise to terror or the terror has intensified because there is no initiative offering a reasonable conclusion. This is particularly so as the funerals of martyred soldiers offer heartrending images on TV.
The future of the initiative
“The state made promises to us about the KCK [Kurdish Communities Union, Turkey Council (KCK/TM)],” Mustafa Karasu, a PKK leader known for his hawkish stance, said. He added that he had not bargained with anyone from the state. An arrest warrant was recently issued for the PKK members who were involved in the controversial Habur return. It seems that the steps taken to eliminate terror have stopped and even regressed.
What must be discussed today is the new war launched by the PKK, which should not be an excuse for shelving the “initiative.” Otherwise, everyone will lose. Rather, the initiative must be fully maintained, without allowing common sense to be distracted by terror. Violence should not be allowed to have practical results, or any result at all.
Nearly a year has passed since the start of the democratic initiative. The AK Party government has taken significant steps to solve the Kurdish issue, but has failed to do the same with respect to the terror issue because the solution developed at the state level could not derive support from all political parties. The terror issue continued to form the most important weapon in the arsenal of political competition. Guns fell silent, but the fight among the parties continued. The “solution,” which the MHP depicted in advance as “the betrayal plan” and which the CHP characterized as separatism, had no chance of being implemented at all.
Referring to the democratic initiative, the MHP leader accuses the government of “trying to politicize separatism.” This is the heart of the matter. The separatism must be politicized. It must go completely political. Otherwise, terror will not end. If separatism becomes politicized instead of violent, how can it resist the powerful integration dynamics of Turkey?
Is the KCK/TM a terrorist organization?
The recently disclosed indictment portrays the KCK/TM as a social, political and administrative organization that is in parallel and an alternative to the state. If the KCK/TM is the political incarnation of the PKK, then such organizations should be given a large amount of latitude as long as they do not resort to violence. For an organization to replace the state, it would need to have the privilege to use violence. And when the KCK/TM uses violence, the state will most certainly be on its back. The trial of the returning PKK members should not disappoint those waiting in the mountains.
Our one-year experience shows us where we failed. The Kurdish issue and the terror issue must be treated as matters above politics. It is the PKK that sheds blood. The power that can stop the bloodshed is possessed by the MHP and the CHP. The PKK says that it launched this war against the AK Party. No one should be in the same camp as the PKK. Terror must be deprived of its political support and meaning.
Let us go back to the question we asked in the beginning. Is terrorism on the rise? “No” is my answer, because experience has taught us that terror is useless and unproductive. The PKK is having a hard time explaining the attacks even to its members.