Who can solve the Kurdish question?
In the last few months we have witnessed so many positive statements and steps that could contribute to a solution to the Kurdish question.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) proposed the establishment of an inter-party body under the roof of Parliament tasked with seeking societal conciliation for a solution to this decades-old problem. In a rare meeting, the CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu came together with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who responded positively to the idea.
Expectations are that more public pressure will be imposed on the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who have so far categorically rejected the idea.
In the meantime, we heard some very positive statements coming from Leyla Zana, an iconic figure of the Kurdish movement who has high credit among Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent. She called on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to cease its armed struggle and to understand that an independent Kurdistan would never be possible. But she also singled out Erdoğan as the sole politician who can solve this Kurdish question.
Last week, the government announced that Kurdish would be introduced in the public schools as an elective course, adding yet another chain in its opening policy towards Kurdish citizens.
In the international scene, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also said he was engaged in efforts to convince the PKK to drop its weapons, in an obvious move to be on the winning side. Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani is more seriously involved in this equation, putting pressure on the terror organization to continue its struggle politically, not militarily. These efforts are backed by the United States, which openly advises pro-Kurdish lawmakers to tell the PKK to lay down weapons.
The PKK’s attacks against military outposts on the Iraqi border came amid all these processes. The initial assessment in Ankara is very much based on the timing and the venue of this attack.
The timing shows that the PKK – or some groups within the PKK - is seriously disturbed by these developments and are aiming to kill this process. Outposts in Dağlıca have been attacked in the past as well, and have been strictly protected by the army. Picking up these outposts as targets, the PKK demonstrates that it is still very powerful and can carry out offensives against even the best protected spots.
Having analyzed the current picture, then it is time to ask who can solve this question. The answer is far deeper than Leyla Zana suggests. Erdoğan is powerful, but this is not enough. Barzani is influential, but lacks authority with the PKK. The U.S. seems committed to helping Turkey, but is reluctant to take concrete measures.
This is the entire country’s problem and it thus requires the inclusion of each and every citizen in this process. Turkish society is already prepared for an agreement that could bring peace and comfort, including more rights given to Kurds. Parliament is the pivotal address if one is sincere in finding a solution to this bleeding wound.