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Kurds…Turkey’s Insuperable Problem | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

The Turkish government has announced an expected position concerning the Kurdish matter, which was and remains one of the disturbing chapters in the Near East and the source of sufferance of around 20% of Turkey’s population from Kurdish origins, as another time Ankara said that there is no Kurdish problem.

In fact, Binali Yıldırım, Turkish prime minister said that his country has no problem with Kurds, but Kurds have suffered from the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is classified as terrorist organization by the Turkish government.

The 7th of June’s elections have represented a turning point in Turkey that changed Ankara’s behavior toward the Kurdish issue, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that inner peace talks that has been launched in 2012 and witnessed a remarkable ascension over the two past years, have been frozen.

Following the shift in the Turkish authorities’ view toward the Kurdish matter that has emerged in the twenties, the PKK resumed its escalation and announced on the 20th of July 2015 the end of the truce, set in coincidence with the peace talks, and aggravated its operations against the Turkish security forces; August has witnessed many operations including a car bombing that killed 3 people and wounded 217 others.

However, the Turkish government seems keen to resume talks to settle the Kurdish problem, according to recent statement launched by both Erdogan and Yildirim.

Absent Rights

By the end of 2012, media reports talked about numerous meetings between the Turkish intelligence and some leaders in the PKK in Oslo, Norway. Back then, Erdogan confirmed attempts to reach a peace consensus with the Kurdish party and said that meetings are ongoing to solve the armed conflict and to start a new phase of peace.

Therefore, the Turkish government has endorsed a bunch of democratic reforms that provided some rights for the Kurdish people including the capacity of learning Kurdish language; the right to speak Kurdish in governmental institutions and courts; the establishment on many projects in regions of Kurdish majority to provide job opportunities.

Regression Reasons

Political circles have rose many questions on the reasons of regression and the prompt-sudden reverse in the PK’s stane after June’s elections 2015. Medaim Yanık, researcher in SETA has considered that months prior elections, the conflict between both parties witnessed tension and that the Turkish government showed flexibility and waited a similar position from the PKK; but the chose to overturn peace process to fulfill its dream of complete independence based on the conditions of the region.

Concerns about “Big Kurdistan”

With the developments in Syria and Iraq, Turkey has felt concerned from possibilities of success of the “Big Kurdistan” project, particularly in line with the PKK’s activity to control regions in the east of Turkey by force. According to Yanick, news about establishing a federal Kurdish entity in Syria that enjoys an independent rule has been one of the main points that have agitated Turkey. The global compassion with the PKK and militia of People’s Protection Units following the significant success in combating ISIS has encouraged the Kurdish party to topple dialogue and resume armed activity in Turkey.

Turkish Confusion

Recent developments have reflected fear amid Turkish policymakers in Turkey from unifying regions of Kurdish majority in Iraq, Syria, and Iran due to supplies the PKK receives in the three countries. The Turkish armed and security forces have launched a military operation since September, 17, 2015 to eradicate members of the Kurdish party in some Turkish regions, targeting to eliminate features of independent rule, which pushed thousands of people to be displaced from their regions to safe spots.

Roots of the Problem

Experts agree that the Kurdish matter has been the biggest problem in Turkey since its establishment in 1924; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey considered that the ethnic diversity in the country was a reason of its fall; therefore, he called to combat this feature. Predecessors on Ataturk have adopted the same approach, which has led to the denial of minorities’ rights.

History of Negotiations

Turkey sought to solve the problems two times in the eighties and then with Erdogan’s rule in 2005, when he launched a series of constitutional reforms along with economic projects in Kurdish regions. Years after secret negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Workers Party, they reached a truce that lasted two years, during which Öcalan called for arm drop and integration in political operation in 2013.

Means of Solution

Till date, Turkey still lacks a constitution that dedicates citizenship and considers cultural and ethnic diversity in the country. Analyst in Turkish affairs considered that the establishment of an independent Kurdish region is an unreal ambition and that indications on its success do not exist. He added that such attempts will damage the Kurdish people because it lacks for capacities to succeed an independent rule. The analyst has also devalued the PKK’s separation announcement saying that it’s a part of the media war between the Turkish State and the party.