A Possible Kurdish – Turkish Spring in the Horizon?
Kurdishaspect.com - By Amed Demirhan
In the last couple years, there has been intensive debate about the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (Partiya Karker Kurdistan – PKK) disarmament issues both in Turkey and in Iraq. The United States, Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, and tacitly PKK has been involved in this conversation. Several Turkish Generals and diplomats have been visiting Hawler in last two months. The idea that is strongly advocated by the President of Kurdistan Region, Mr. Masoud Barzani, that PKK issues should be solved politically is gaining ground. The well known and respected Turkish Journalist Mr. Hasan Cemal in May 2, 2009 spent four hours with PKK leader Mr. Murat Karayilan in Qandil mountain and the message he received has created a great deal of debate in Turkey .(1) A Kurdish – Turkish peace deal will be a great contribution to the stability and economic development of the region. Therefore, the parties involved should show their determination to bring an end to the armed conflict between the Kurds and Turks. Of course, the trauma and indignation caused by of bloody wars and hundred years of conflict and hostility will not fade away over night; however, after Mr. Jamal article in Turkish daily “ Milliyet “ was published, the President of Turkey Mr. Abdullah Gul officially declared to Journalists: “… Kurdish issue is the number one issue for Turkey and most be solved”(2) If this statement is a reflection of the President’s determination, this is a very good and signals a new era of hope. The President and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Cemil Cicek and some others have invited Mr. Cemal for a meeting. It is worth to mention that Mr. Jamal is among the leading journalists of Turkey, and he is someone who strongly believes in a peaceful solution to Kurdish issue. He knows the Turkish state and the Kurds very well.
This debate has sparked hope in Kurdish communities that have been seeking peace for many years. So far, all leading Kurdish intellectuals and politicians look very favorable to this debate. Nevertheless, Kurds have heard many “pronouncements” from former Presidents and Prime Ministers of Turkey including current Prime Minister Mr. Recep Tayib Erdogan; therefore, a degree of skepticism is there, too. Any opportunity to “silence guns” should be taken seriously because discord and hostility hurt both Turkish and Kurdish communities and their friends.
However, there is a great need of a strong support from the United States for Kurdish – Turkish dialog. The United States has been strongly encouraging dialog between and among involved parties. Nevertheless the US should continue its strong support. Because Kurdish – Turkish conflicts hurt United States interests, and contributes to instability in the region, stability is crucial for the United States and local actors alike. The Kurdish issue both in Iraq and in Turkey has been poisoning United States – Turkish relations for a very long time. A Turkey that is peaceful and comfortable with Kurds will likely be a much better friend with the United States.
In this dialog, the Kurdistan Region President Mr. Masoud Barzani can play a very crucial role. This is because Mr. Masoud Barzani is considered the “elder statesman” of Kurdistan; even his enemies can and do trust his words. Despite many years of pressure from many countries, Mr Barzani has been insisting in a peaceful solution to the conflict between Kurds and Turks. The well known and respected Turkish TV personality and Journalist Mr. Mehmet Ali Brand in his column in Daily Hurriyet wrote: “in this stage most logical thing to trust Mr. Barzani as a mediator or go between.” (3) Mr. Barzani has many years of experience to negotiate with many countries and particularly regional countries. His knowledge, relations, and experience in this subject make him an exceptional candidate as peace maker and mediator. The friends of Kurdistan and Turkey and, particularly, the United States should do whatever it takes to make this possibility of Kurdish – Turkish peace a reality. Both President Gul and President Barzani should be strongly supported in this onerous task.
About the Author:
Demirhan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies a Minor in Spanish, a Master of Art Degree in Dispute Resolution, and a Master of Art Degree in Library and Information Science. His languages spoken are: Kurdish, Swedish, Turkish, English, and Spanish.
Hawler (Erbil) - Kurdistan Federal Region - Iraq