Street Fighter 2015

Street Fighter 2015

Now that the elections have passed, Turkey is again facing its decades-long challenge of dealing with the Kurdish issue again. Despite the blackout in mainstream and pro-government media, what is happening in Silvan has a bigger impact than anyone can imagine.

In order to remove the barricades inside certain neighborhoods, the governor of Diyarbakir ordered a curfew in the Silvan district on Nov. 3 – two days after the election. It has continued since then. According to BBC reports, people have started vacating their homes and moving in with their relatives around Diyarbakir. Sound familiar? Yes, Syria started like that.

The never-ending struggle of Turkish governments with the Kurdish insurgency remains unresolved because of one fundamental factor. One former soldier and intelligence expert source told me this while talking about Silvan: “There is a very strong ideological background behind all this. Unless we create an idea, a belief stronger than this, it could go on forever.”

Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision makers see the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a “puppet of intelligence agencies” or “young Kurds who have been deceived by major powers and harassed by earlier Turkish policies.” It is much more than that. 

The PKK now has returned to its roots as an organization that challenges the “state.” By this definition it has sought and found new blood in the leftist and pro-anarchy groups. You may just say, “So what? There’s nothing new in this.” Think again. If a group is turning its entire fight into inner cities, forcing the state to impose curfews, then its ideological purpose may be much stronger.

My sources tell me that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has not lost too many votes in Kurdish cities and PKK strongholds like Cizre, Sirnak or Hakkari. Despite all the rhetoric about the barricades, the dug-up trenches and the booby traps, the locals of these towns and neighborhoods see the PKK as “one of their own.” The security forces’ curfews – effectively turning the towns into prisons – have another meaning. For PKK/YDG-H supporters, they mean “replicating the suffering of Öcalan.” Come to think of it, if you are aiming to liberate a leader from jail, first you have to feel and live like him. That is exactly what is happening in Silvan.

If a town turns into a prison, then an entire region can easily become one, too. If people start to leave their homes and become immigrants, then Adana, İstanbul and İzmir will also become a subject of this “struggle.”

Unfortunately, Turkey missed the chance to convert and “recruit” the Kurdish youth to its side during the cease-fire years. Instead, the government focused on its fetish projects like roads, bridges and infrastructure. For the leftist culture, this is far too old. 

But there is a way out. A source told me that figures like the late Gaffar Okkan, or the late commander Aslan Kulaksız, symbolize a different state image: “A gentle father who looks after you, who creates a future for you. They do not just deal with the apartment you live in, but also ensure the peace and happiness inside the apartment. Turkey needs to find idols like that for the region. Not just pay lip service.”

The Turkish state is playing a game like Pac-Man, while the youth of the PKK/YDG-H have learned a lot from the Street Fighter series. Either Ankara has to change its operating system, or it will see the screen saying “Game Over-Insert Coin.”