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