LALE – Situation in Southeast appears to be out of everyone’s hands

Situation in Southeast appears to be out of everyone’s handsIn less than three months, Turkeyand#39s Kurdish-dominated eastern and southeastern regions, close to the Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian borders, have been witnessing persistent and widespread street protests that have been staged by Turkish Kurds as well as deadly clashes taking place among a Kurdish youth organization and an Islamist party.The Turkish military recently dispatched tanks to the town of Cizre, near the Turkish-Syrian border, when security forces had a difficult time containing the violence that erupted there last weekend.

Military reinforcement in Cizre demonstrates the seriousness of the situation in the region as a whole.The clashes in Cizre took place between members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) of the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK) — outlawed in Turkey — and a Kurdish Islamist Party called Huda-Par, resulting in the death of three people.

The father of a leader of Huda-Par was among those who died in the clashes.Huda-Par (Huda-Party), or the Islamist Free Cause Party, was established in 2012 and adopted a pro-Islamic agenda, presenting itself as an alternative for voters in the eastern and southeastern regions.

The party denies it is linked with the Turkish Hizbullah, an extreme fundamentalist Islamist terrorist organization whose activities had largely been curbed with nationwide police operations against its cells in the year 2000. Hizbullah had at the time been blamed for killing around 150 people and leaving hundreds wounded.

Although not linked to the Hezbollah of Lebanon, the Turkish Hizbullah has links to the Iranian group of the same name and is mainly inspired by its Iranian counterpart.Despite its claims to the contrary, Huda-Par is believed to have drawn support from sympathizers of Turkeyand#39s Hizbullah group, which fought the PKK in the 1990s.

Relations between the PKK and Huda-Par have been tense since October, when Kurds clashed with police and members of the Islamist group all over Turkey, though mainly in the Southeast. More than 30 people were killed in the clashes.

In early October the Turkish Kurds held protests in several southeastern cities over what they said was the governmentand#39s refusal to help Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters in the besieged town of Kobani just across the borderOctoberand#39s violence, the worst seen in the region in many years, was, however, partly driven by intense clashes between Kurds and Huda-Par members.Turkish official statements and remarks made by the pro-Kurdish Peopleand#39s Democratic Party (HDP) — both blaming each other for the fresh violence while also placing blame on some they call andldquothe provocateursandquot — do not give any clue whatsoever as to the reasons for the escalation of tension in the Kurdish-dominated eastern and southeastern regions.

A recent warning issued by Huda-Par, however, is worth taking into consideration.Zekeriya YapIcIoIlu, the head of Huda-Par, held a press conference on New Yearand#39s Eve, Wednesday, in which he accused the government of shirking its responsibilities by placing blame on what Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu described as andldquoprovocateurs.

andrdquo He called on the government to identify the provocateurs and warned of the possibility of civil war erupting among Turkish Kurds.Maintaining calm in the region is key to the fragile peace process in which the government is working to end a 30-year conflict through negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, who called for a cease-fire last yearPresident Recep Tayyip ErdoIan reiterated on Dec.

31 the stateand#39s determination to move ahead with the Kurdish peace process, putting the blame for ongoing unrest in Kurdish areas on those who seek to undermine the process.In my opinion, it appears the arrests starting in 2011 of hundreds of members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) — an urban grouping of the PKK — including mayors has in some way helped create the political space for Huda-ParAccording to an Ankara-based Western security official who spoke with me: andquotThe PKK has rebounded and therefore we are witnessing a turf war for the hearts and minds of Kurds.

This is an important point because I think many Kurds, for the first time, believe the future will be better Also, every peshmerga victory is a victory for Kurdish nationalism across the region. Indeed, Kurdish victories in Iraq and Syria will likely have a contagion effect in Turkey, which is why Ankara is only willing to provide limited support in the anti-ISIS fight.

andrdquoMeanwhile, the general lawlessness on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian and Turkish-Iraqi borders is also contributing to unrest in the Southeast. Clearly, various political, criminal and terrorist organizations are seizing whatever opportunities they can.

More importantly, the current lack of security is a symptom of the governmentand#39s slow progress in aancing the Kurdish peace process and seeming indifference to ISIS and the fate of Syrian Kurds in Kobani.In the final analysis, I just donand#39t see the deep state (if it exists), the military, Iran or aliens from Mars as having control over the situation in the Southeast.

The situation appears to be out of everyoneand#39s hands, and if anyone thinks they are manipulating events to reach a certain outcome I would suggest they think again.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman