Expectations high on fresh Kurdish initative
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AFP photoDespite Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s harsh statements against the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), his intention in the long run is to establish a political process for the solution of the Kurdish question, according to assessments made by Washington. In this regard, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) recent initiative on the issue has popular support, the U.S. believes.
A recent meeting between Erdoğan and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP); the positive statements coming from Leyla Zana, a symbolic figure of Kurdish movement; and reports that Iraqi Kurdish groups are pressing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down weapons, are all points increasing expectations that a negotiated solution to Turkey’s most urgent problem can be reached.
“The meeting between Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu indicates that the desire for a political solution has support. It would have important contributions to the ultimate solution. You always need the main opposition party’s support for a national solution,” a source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News, explaining how the United States reads the development.
However, the problem is the lack of a sound and influential interlocutor who could carry out meaningful dialogue with the government. The natural bidder for this position is the BDP, but it has not been able to handle this job so far as it has difficulty denouncing terrorism.
US to BDP: Disown violence
Senior BDP figures Ahmet Türk, Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak visited Washington late April, but what they heard was far from satisfying for them. The message they received in Washington was: “Disown violence and create a distance between you and the violence. Pass the message to the PKK that they should lay down weapons – there is no future in armed conflict.”
Though these messages are not different from those that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered at a meeting with senior BDP officials in July last year, they still have importance considering the developments of recent months, especially after Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government leader Masoud Barzani openly warned the PKK to cease its terrorist acts.
“The U.S. is playing a support role. It’s not talking directly to the PKK but is passing the same messages publicly that the PKK should lay down its arms,” a source told the Daily News. Washington is also pushing Barzani to make this case in a more influential way, which would eventually boost ties between Ankara and Arbil as well.
“The PKK’s chieftains are known to be in the northern Iraq. If you have good cooperative relations with those in the northern Iraq, then you will be better positioned,” the source said.
Emphasizing that some steps had been taken by Barzani in the field to prevent PKK attacks against Turkey, the source said, “compared to previous years, we don’t see same level of PKK attacks.”
Another indication is the increasing number of complaints coming from the PKK headquarters against measures taken by Barzani in line with cooperation with Turkey. Public statements from various Turkish officials on the meaningful support received from Barzani and the U.S. are also important in showing that there is visible cooperation.
In addition, Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Kurdish leader and president of Iraq, also wants to be identified with this movement against the PKK, after he unexpectedly stated that he was also involved in efforts to convince the PKK to lay down its weapons. “He surely wants to be on the winning side,” is the interpretation in Ankara and Washington.
Pass the law on terror financing
If Ankara wants more solid moves from its allies and Barzani in order to stop logistical and financial flows to the PKK, it should immediately pass the law on the prevention of terror financing, the U.S. tells Turkey.
“On the movement of people, material and money you have to put some laws in place. That’s why passing this law is very important. It opens a big toolbox not just related to the movement of money, but who is moving the money. Turkey has not done it yet,” the source said. “They have to pass this law and it has to be a law that meets international standards.”