Irrespective of who says it or where it is said, everyone wishing to see an end to more than a quarter century of separatist terrorism-related violence in this country must understand that a solely military approach will not suffice to stop the bloodshed. Unless the security-focused approach is supplemented with a political process, whatever success might be achieved as regards silencing the guns will only be temporary. This silence can only be maintained at most until the gang finds another suitable atmosphere in which to resurrect. That is why, according to one count, Turkey has been trying to battle the 29th uprising since the founding of the republic.
Whatever terminology is used used to describe them, it is a fact that the Kurdish people of Turkey have some grievances, which like a swamp have been providing a fertile breeding ground the mosquitoes of separatist terrorism. The swamp must be adequately treated. Drying the swamp will not and cannot be a solution, because such a move will produce an even bigger environmental problem in the long run. Using massive pesticides might help to contain the mosquitoes, but cannot be a sustainable solution because of the obvious side effects, or collateral damage.
Acknowledging that terrorism of all sorts can never be totally eliminated in a society with an all-inclusive civilian and political approach engaging the people in the process, the swamp however can be perfectly treated and turned into a paradise; of course with some mosquitoes, but still a paradise.
Neighbors with some dirty dishes might provide a temporary breeding ground or refuge for our mosquitoes, or our mosquitoes might enjoy the swamps in neighboring lands. Unfortunately visa restrictions or border arrangements can apply neither to mosquitoes nor terrorists. Neighboring fertile grounds – the American-designed situation in Iraq, the Syrian developments, Afghanistan, the Arab-Israeli problem – can exacerbate the problem this way or the other, but whatever: The problem is domestic and the answer to it must be domestic.
Politics, therefore, must engage itself firmly with a pro-settlement approach and try with all its power to silence the guns with the awareness that every life lost produces the same immense pain in the chest, irrespective of the ethnic background of the owner of that chest. “Mothers should no longer cry” is of course a populist slogan, but it reflects a bitter reality. Mothers are losing their loved ones, irrespective of whether they are fighting for a separatist terrorist utopia or for the defense of the state and nation against those waging a dirty war to achieve such a utopia. All mothers suffer the same pain.
Like the failed so-called Oslo process or the unfortunately ambiguous collapsed Kurdish opening, the prime minister’s meeting with Leyla Zana on Saturday was a product of an effort to reach a political settlement. Resolution, naturally, will not be achieved overnight, as the problem at hand is immense. But for it to be successful there is a need to engage the nation in the process and keep the Kurdish problem from becoming a Turkish issue. That is why reaching a consensus on the desired settlement is a must.