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Should NATO resolve the Kurdish question?

HDN | 7/1/2010 12:00:00 AM | KADRİ GÜRSEL

I was supposed to write about Iran, but when the prime minister speaks arbitrarily, it becomes impossible for a journalist to write according to the plan.

I was supposed to write the final piece of a series titled “Notes on Iran.” But when there is a prime minister in this country who speaks arbitrarily in order to make the agenda, it becomes impossible for a journalist to write within the plan.

So, I had to put away my notes about Turkey’s “No” vote against sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council. Because Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan implied last week in a press briefing in Toronto that NATO should settle the Kurdish conflict.

Could we have the luxury to act reluctantly toward Mr. Prime Minister? In a way, our agenda as a country changes forcefully. The only thing that doesn’t change is our “main character.” The main character of the article I was going to write was Erdoğan… He is also the leading actor in this piece about asking for assistance from NATO against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Or should I say not the “main character” but “anti-character”? Erdoğan said the following at a press meeting:

“If a terror organization takes over a region, a country will talk about territorial integrity, yet, at the same time, some others will try to have a share in the land. How can we talk about territorial integrity?”

He also said, “Then, we should either have a central government in the place or change the tasks and duties of the local administration. We, as a NATO country, should maintain our military units in Afghanistan or in any other places.”

Where should we start? Which of these remarks should we start with?

Erdoğan implies NATO should play a role, similar to what they have played in Afghanistan, against the PKK nested in northern Iraq.

If we presume NATO fights the PKK because we are in an alliance with NATO, this is nothing else but the Kurdish question becoming a worldwide issue.

I think neither Erdoğan nor any other sober Turkish politician wants this. The Kurdish conflict being politicized during the initiative process, however, could turn into an international problem if no solution is found.

What I mean is this: Complications, which could occur as a result of Turkey’s failure to solve its own Kurdish problem, would spread into neighboring countries, and would furthermore become a threat for the stability of the entire world.

That is to say, in the political aspect, dissolution sets a legitimate ground for the interference of regional and global actors.

If we cannot resolve the Kurdish question, someone else will do it. President Abdullah Gül says so.

Let me remind readers of a part of Erdoğan’s speech from early October during the opening ceremony of the new legislative year: “Turkey has to resolve its own problems on its own. If there are problems eating up a country, these will unavoidably create security gaps for other countries as well.” Countries can, of course, request assistance from their allies. For instance, it is legitimate to ask for assistance from the United States, because the conjuncture in Iraq was created by the U.S.

It is also legitimate to ask support of the Regional Kurdish Administration, because the regions of Kandil, Avashin, Zap and Hakurk, which are practically the “PKK zone,” are in the jurisdiction of that administration. But asking assistance of NATO against the PKK in northern Iraq is simply political weakness. “I couldn’t solve this. Come, let’s settle it together, or you solve it…”

For the source of the PKK issue in northern Iraq is the ethnic problem Turkey has been facing.

Theoretically, though, Turkey cannot ask assistance of some countries against the “terror issue,” because it stems from Turkey. But once we start to talk about alliance with NATO against the PKK, then the big bosses of the alliance alongside the likes of Estonia, Romania and Luxembourg can give advice and we have to take it all.

Can we accept such insult against Turkey?

* Mr. Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for the daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared Thursday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

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