Why Erdogan wants to pursue a hollow peace process

By Arian Mufid:

Turkey PM Erdogan; PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan

President Erdogan and jailed PKK leader Abdulla Ocalan

In January 2013 when a co-founder of the PKK was shot dead in Paris, along with two other members of her organisation, the world turned a blind eye to the role of the Turkish security services in commissioning this crime. Sakine Cansız, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Söylemez have become symbols of martyrdom to Turkish attacks on the PKK in Europe and in the north of Kurdistan. Sections of the Turkish media tried to create a smokescreen, falsely claiming that an internal PKK feud lay behind the Paris atrocity. At the time the PKK was in the middle of negotiations with the Turkish state; the state exploited the situation, knowing the PKK had relaxed some of its security, although Kandil was still under attack by Turkish forces.

The imprisoned PKK leader Abdulla Ocalan, in his book ‘The Road Map to Negotiation’, which I reviewed in 2012, argues that the objective is not only about ending the years of depression and repression of the Kurds but also about creating a truly democratic constitution for Turkey. The peace process shows how important this is. The Turkish state has shown no integrity in its negotiations with the PKK. First, there has been no move towards releasing Ocalan, who has been in jail for 15 years. Second, the snail’s pace of negotiations betrays a lack of sincerity and a desire simply to pass time for the electoral purposes of the ruling AKP. The PKK halted all military operations but only withdrew about 17% of its forces from within Turkish borders.

On 2nd August, IS captured Sinjar and tried to attack the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). KRG leaders asked for help from Turkey but this was refused and the Turkish prime minister told the world that ‘we don’t want to intervene’. The Turkish government enhanced the position of IS and weakened the ground of the KRG, until the US air force halted the IS advance. IS rewarded Turkey by releasing its 49 diplomats and, at the same time, IS launched its current onslaught on Kobanê, a key city in the west of Kurdistan. Despite the huge numbers of Kurdish refugees fleeing from IS terror, the Turkish state opted to say nothing. The PKK leadership has stated the outcome of the battle for Kobanê will determine the future of negotiations with Turkey. But Erdogan would like to continue this fruitless negotiation for two reasons. First, it helps him overcome the objections of the western world and claim to be engaged in resolving the Kurdish issue. Second, Erdogan successfully took credit for the process and managed to win the presidency on this basis and, for this reason, he wants to continue with the deception.

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