Tag Archives: Cizre

Turkey’s battle against PKK – why washing blood with blood will never see a victor

As Turkey’s peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) grinded to a comprehensive halt with the resumption of deadly violence in July 2015, Ankara has made a crucial error by shutting the “Kurdish opening”.

Describing the Kurdish issue as a “terrorism” problem merely scratches the surface and opens the door to more violence.

The truce between the PKK and Turkey that largely held for 2.5 years may be shattered, but can any side really argue they have benefited or have the upper hand from the new status quo?

After a recent bombing in Diyarbakir claimed by the PKK, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed that the government will not stop until every street and home in southeast of Turkey finds peace and security. Davutoglu also previously pledged that militants will be “wiped out from the mountains.”

But if there were a military solution to the conflict, would it really have taken one of the most formidable armies in the world over three decades and billions of dollars to achieve?

In reality, tying the PKK noose around the Kurdish problem has narrowed the real issue. The majority of Kurds feel stuck by years of harsh government policies and militant tactics.

There is also fuel for hatred and animosity from both sides. With every death come new motivations to vengeance and a new score to settle, each of which inaugurates a ritual of washing blood with blood that might take decades to end.

The punitive curfews imposed, such as those in Cizre, invariably kill more hope amongst civilians than any number of rebels. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed that over 5,000 PKK rebels had been killed or injured since last July. Some analysts had put the PKK force at about the same figure, yet where is the victory for Ankara?

As so many deep historical conflicts in the Middle East have shown, a vicious cycle of bloodshed has no restriction in supply for those willing to sacrifice for their cause.

The Kurdish south east of Turkey desperately needs investment and an escape from the shadows of the rest of Turkey. Years of impoverishment and suffering has taken immense toll on the region. High unemployment, especially among the youth, perpetuates disenchantment and bitterness.

At a very sensitive juncture for the Middle East and Turkey, simply focusing on the PKK in the war on terror avoids the real issue – combating the Islamic State (IS).

As Syrian Kurds press on towards increasing autonomy, Turkey has little choice but to accept regional realities—much in the same way that autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan was heavily feared but eventually embraced by Ankara leading to strategic ties.

It would be unwise to suggest this can happen with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) overnight, but Turkey must separate its concepts of terrorism and Kurdish nationalism. Not every Kurdish nationalist is a terrorist and not every Kurd is a PKK sympathizer.

Neither the Kurds nor Turks are about to disappear from the regional scene. One way or another, the future of both nations is intrinsically linked. Turkey must do what it can to avoid continuous polarization of the Kurds. If the southeast starts to flourish and feel like real partners to Turkey, the rebel cause will swiftly lose its appeal.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Turkey’s vicious cycle of conflict can be broken

A week-long curfew in Cizre was finally ended on Saturday but the fallout is likely to linger much longer and serve as fuel for more violence.

Since the ceasefire was shattered in July, the war between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has intensified threatening to return Turkey to the dark days of the 1990’s.

With every death come new fuel for vengeance and a new score to settle. As the past three decades has proven, the end result is a vicious cycle that benefits no side.

If there was a military solution to the conflict, it would not have taken many decades and billions of dollars to achieve one.

The underlying problem is that the Kurdish issue has been invariably tied to the PKK dilemma. Kurds have become stuck between punitive government policies and the PKK.

The quest to eradicate the rebels has lost perspective and this is highlighted by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s recent comments that the militants can be “wiped out from the mountains”.

It’s an age-old problem of cutting branches versus addressing the roots. For every rebel that is taken down from the mountains, many more are keen to join the mountains.

The Kurdish populated areas have long been disenfranchised and impoverished compared to the rest of Turkey. The high percentage of unemployed youths needs jobs and prospects of a brighter future, away from the appeal of militancy.

One can only imagine what could have resulted in the Kurdish areas if the billions spent on the war were spent on the local economy and infrastructure.

The need for greater Kurdish rights and constitutional amendments goes beyond the PKK question – Kurdish disenchantment and disillusion goes back long before the PKK arrived on the scene.

As the doors to the peace process appear firmly shut, Ankara will make a big mistake by equally shutting the Kurdish opening. By leaving the Kurdish question merely to a terrorism problem – the only door that remains wide open is that of decades of more conflict.

The success of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the first Kurdish party to break the 10% threshold and enter parliament, could have been the springboard to kick start the peace process. In contrast, it can be argued as the government motive for the new round of violence.

HDP gains at the polls were clearly to the loss of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) who as a result of the HDP gains in parliament lost their majority.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan become embroiled on a quest to reclaim lost votes when snap elections beckoned after many doubted that coalition talks would succeed with a fine balance of votes and reluctant participants to any coalition.

Proposed snap elections on 1st November will prove even more crucial than the elections in June. The burning question is whether AKP can woo nationalist votes as it has sought by scrapping any peace deal with the PKK.

At the same time, with the escalating violence, Erdogan has attempted to tie the PKK noose around the HDP and ultimately portray the HDP as a “terrorist” party to dilute their voter base.

The crisis over Cizre, where the Council of Europe had urged Turkey to grant access to independent observers, servers to intensify the polarisation of Turkey.

The only solution is the promotion of a new Turkey where Turks and Kurds are equally represented. The south east must be allowed to come out the shadows of the west with investment, employment, infrastructure and renewed hope.

If the Kurdish question is not addressed, Turkey will retain a handicap that will continue to prove a detriment to its growth, stability and immense potential.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc