Can you handle the truth?
Remember the famous scene from “A Few Good Men,” when Jack Nicholson yells at the prosecutor and the judge in the Military Court Marshall? When he looks into Tom Cruise’s eyes and asks “You want the truth?” then yells like a madman, “You can’t handle the truth!”
The Kurdish peace talks are almost becoming an hourglass in which the sands are dropping faster and faster as the end approaches. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is rushing into the final hour of legislation to grant some sort of legitimacy to the talks. The region is turning into a ticking bomb and the Kurds may be Turkey’s only savior.
As I was sifting through some old newspapers in the house, I found an old copy of Cumhuriyet. It was dated Nov. 18, 2013. The headline read: "Nobody believed it." The story? Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had hinted a grand amnesty during his trip to Diyarbakır. Pervin Buldan, the Kurdish deputy from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had interpreted this attempt as a “charm offensive before the elections to court the Kurdish vote”
So after seven months, we are back to zero again. The new “Kurdish solution” package creates a legislative background for the talks between İmralı and the AKP, but does very little for the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) prisoners. Ankara plays the game in the international court, but does very little for its own citizens.
Yet the truth we may have trouble handling is closer than ever. Iraq’s central government is in total disarray and neither the Shiites, nor the Sunni have any intention of living together anymore. It is the Balkanization of Iraq, and even the Bush governments couldn’t imagine doing it this way. But with Ankara’s help, radicals and a non-performing Shiite alliance managed what the U.S. was not capable of doing: The map is changing as the drops of sand slide into the lower half.
Because she is someone who knows Kurdish dynamics well, I ended up calling my good friend Berna Türkili. She is a businesswoman who has seen the best and worst of these negotiations. As Berna pointed out, Turkey has recently cut a deal with Exxon to have more stakes in Kurdish oil. ExxonMobil has been in negotiations with the state-owned Turkish Energy Company (TEC), which was keen to take a stake in the super-major’s six exploration contracts in Kurdistan. But these talks weren’t just about the contracts, according to the Iraq Oil Report.
Berna, the smart woman that she is, says this openly on the phone: “I think the Kurds are getting ready for independence, and Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki has accepted that. The Shiites are going to get Basra, and Baghdad will be an open city for all. All signs point to the fact that Ankara has no option but to live with this fact. Even if it means losing some territory.”
Berna believes that the deal Ankara cut with Nechirvan Barzani is so lucrative that one should get used to the silence of the lambs on the issue of the Turkmens in Kurdistan. So, where were we again? There will be an independent Kurdistan next door sooner than imagined. And its borders may get broader within a very short space of time.
Now, can you handle this truth?
* Apology: In my last article, as I was trying to describe the non-performing voters who are well off, I used the term “Sweden-type” social democrats. As most readers can imagine, this term symbolizes elitist, petty bourgeois Turkish citizens who live in Turkey but pretend to live in Sweden and complain about life and politics. My Swedish friends felt offended and I am sorry for this. I offer my sincere apology to Erik Meyersson (@emeyersson), and many thanks for warning me.