Turkish Kemalist military the key obstacle to truce between the Kurds and state

Kurdishaspect.com - By Baqi Barzani

Like his predecessor retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who led the Turkish military between 2008 and 2010, the newly appointed Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, voiced his strong opposition to granting autonomy to the Kurds in North Kurdistan ( Southeast Turkey) , or dismounting any form of decentralization plan in the country. In a transfer of chain of command ceremony on August 9, in nutshell, he stated his new mission as follows: No building of a second governmental structure in Turkey; seeking aid from the central Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish administration against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK; blocking the support PKK receives from some European states; and continuing to grant the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, authorization to launch military strikes in South Kurdistan (North of Iraq).

The secular Kemalist military in Turkey is the major stumbling block to compromise between the Kurds and the Turkish state. Turkish military, however, has never acknowledged the existence of Kurdish question in Turkey. It terms it “combating terrorism”. There has been strong endorsement among the general public for peace between the Kurds and Turkey. Some have considered PKK’s cease-fire offer as a golden opportunity to unravel the decade-old conflict between PKK and the government, and called upon the incumbent authorities to take the maximum advantage of it.

Score of Turkish political leaders, analysts and intellectuals strongly rebuff Turkish military’s unfounded interference in the issue, and infer that the Kurdish-Turkish dilemma can simply be resolved, but purely through negotiations and dialogue.

“Military measures do not provide the solution. Had wars solved problems, this problem wouldn’t have continued,” said Barzani, the leader Kurdish Regional Government during his talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

According to Hasip Kaplan, Şırnak deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, “The General Staff resorting to military means will create big trauma in relations between Kurds and Turks,” he told the Turkish Daily News. “It is not the army’s but the government’s duty to solve the Kurdish problem.

Oral Çalışlar, a noted Turkish journalist and writer, has said that the declaration of a cease-fire by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) should be seen as an opportunity to solve the Kurdish problem because circumstances are ripe for a solution.
Even opposition nationalist leaders such as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Republican People’s Party, or CHP, have shifted their stance, more favoring seeking a peaceful solution to the Kurdish dilemma, as well. “ Economic and social solutions, not more military might, are the keys to solving the Kurdish question and the country’s terror problem “Thirty-five years of experience has shown that terror cannot be solved with guns alone”, he asserted.

Turkish military has long been recognized the biggest setback before a solution through dialogue, negotiations or politics. At present, some 6000 Kurdish detainees are serving term behind the bars on false separatism and terrorism charges. The brutal tactics employed by military has exceedingly tarnished the state credibility. Through 1980’s to 1990s, thousands of Kurds had been mass murdered in ethnic-cleansing efforts committed by Turkish military. Last month, “Der Spiegel”, a German weekly magazine, ran a piece arguing that the Turkish military had exploited chemical weapons against Kurdish PKK fighters.

PKK announced a cease-fire valid through the 20th of September. In September 12, Turkey will hold a critical referendum on government-sponsored constitutional reforms proposed by the ruling Justice and Development party (AK). All state branches and political parties are heavily tied up, striving to come up with a practical approach to address the lingering vital issue.   Any inimical military meddling in the affair will mar the opportunity to attain perpetual peace and stability.

During the 4th convention of The Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, Ahmet Turk, a Co-Chair of the party, stated “our congress stresses the fact that Turkey can no longer be governed by the stringent understanding of the central administration of the last 80 years. The DTK believes that the coordination of some local authorities with the formation of local self-governments, which are to give body to entire democratic structure in Turkey with the consideration of social, cultural and economic characteristics, will reinforce unity and togetherness. ‘Democratic Turkey, Self-Governments’ is a demand for unity and togetherness.”

PKK was intent on promulgating democratic autonomy in North Kurdistan (Southeast Turkey). Instead, it shelved the plan pending the outcomes of referendum. Myriad experts suggest that if Turkey does not grant the Kurds some degree of autonomy, the country would eventually envisage disintegration, as Gülten Kışanak, the co-chairwoman of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, indicated in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review “Turkey could face intensified ethnic conflict and potential dissolution if it fails to take advantage of current opportunities to resolve the Kurdish question.”


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August 25, 2010
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