BERIL – PKK and kidnappings

PKK and kidnappingsFor several months, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been quite silent and its armed operations have been halted. The fact that the armed conflict between the Turkish security forces and the PKK militants has stopped is the best news of these last years.

However, the armed conflict has only stopped because the Kurdish movement has a number of political expectations from the Turkish state. Or, to say the whole truth, different Kurdish groups have different expectations from AnkaraMany experts believe the Kurdish political movement will cooperate with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the presidential election in August.

It is a fact that the current government is the one that launched the Kurdish settlement process, they opened negotiations with the PKK’s imprisoned leader Abdullah calan and they have implemented a number of important reforms to resolve the Kurdish issue. That’s why the Kurdish political movement feels they are the only reliable team in the Turkish political scene, and besides, the governing AK Party will probably stay in power for a long time.

So the Kurdish movement will have to negotiate with the same governing team in the coming years, as well.Nevertheless, it is also true that the Kurdish movement had to be very patient until now, because the government had always told them to wait “until after the next elections” for substantial reforms.

Several elections took place since the first time this sentence was pronounced, and now Kurds don’t want to wait any longer Kurdish representatives in Parliament and in local administrations have a very hard time persuading their voters to wait longerRecently, the PKK has done something that has reminded us of Boko Haram’s actions in Nigeria: It has kidnapped dozens of children whose parents believe they have been forcibly recruited by the PKK.By these kidnappings, the PKK probably wanted to remind the government that it is not enough to negotiate with calan as there are other leaders within the PKK in the field who want to be taken seriously.

These kidnappings may have even something to do with Ankara-Arbil oil trade agreements or Baghdad’s general mistrust towards Turkey. This action has particularly damaged, however, the Kurdish politicians’ credibility.

Through this action, the PKK has sent a warning to Kurdish politicians. Under this pressure, the Kurdish political movement may reconsider its negotiations with the Turkish government however, if the negotiations stop, how will Kurds’ political demands be satisfied? Nevertheless, in order to keep the negotiations on track, they have to obtain a number of important reforms so they can persuade their base.

The risk is seeing Kurdish politicians lose all credibility in the end and the PKK resuming its armed operations.A renewed armed conflict in southeast Turkey may completely change the current political balance and, unfortunately, there are people in Turkey who would want to see this balance shift even if the price to pay is a bloody conflict and growing social tension.

Most people expect the AK Party and the Kurds to cooperate for the presidential election, yet the other camp — namely the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) — don’t seem near to finding common ground. We know they are both distant to the Kurds’ political demands, they are both secularist and share similar views about Alevis.

They’ll probably try to find a compromise candidate, but that won’t be that easy. A shock development could perhaps help them to get closer more quickly, who knows? Perhaps the PKK’s kidnappings were the precursor of events that will help these two parties cooperate more easily.

It is quite irritating to think that there may be people who are setting up plans to resume the armed conflict in order to change Turkey’s political life. Well, if there are, that won’t be the first time in Turkish history.

Let’s hope that my worries are baseless.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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