Both AKP and PKK unhappy with Turkish govt’s Kurdish dialogue

Both AKP and PKK unhappy with Turkish govt’s Kurdish dialogue

Signals coming from both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) indicate that neither is happy with the current state of the dialogue process, initiated by the Turkish government two years ago in pursuit of a political solution to the chronic problem.

At first sight, the reason for the cold winds blowing in the process is the ongoing attack of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against the predominantly Kurdish populated Syrian town of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab), which is near the Turkish border and is defended by PKK-affiliated groups. The ISIL attacks have been ongoing for nearly two months now.

The PKK and the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at Parliament, which share similar grassroots, are angry with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the AK Parti government for refusing their requests to let PKK militants - and those of its Syrian sister, the PYD - use Turkish territory to cross into Kobane or supply it with heavy arms.

Meanwhile, Ankara (both President Tayyip Erdoğan and PM Davutoğlu) is angry with the PKK and the HDP for calling for a wave of protests against government policies and for Kobane. Those protests turned violent and led to the death of more than 40 people on Oct. 6-7.

But Kobane seems not to be the real reason for the current tension, perhaps it was simply a catalyst that caused it to surface earlier than expected. The real reason for the tension seems to be the parliamentary election scheduled for June 2015.

Zübeyir Aydar, a leading PKK figure based in Brussels, told the PKK-affiliated Fırat News Agency on Oct. 8 that the Turkish government is “looking for excuses not to keep its promises … The process would have been completed before the end of 2013, including the legal and constitutional [dimensions], if the protocol had been implemented.”

Cemil Bayık, the current military leader of the PKK, had claimed to the BBC Turkish Service on Aug. 27, 2013 that the government’s agenda was not to solve the Kurdish problem but rather to win the elections one after another: The municipal, presidential and parliamentary elections.

Turkey is now at a stage after the municipal elections in March 2014 and the presidential vote in August 2014. Bayık, based in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq, told Austria’s Der Standard newspaper earlier this month that the PKK wanted the U.S. to be the observer of the process between the Turkish government and the PKK, despite being a founding leader of an organization with a strong anti-American, anti-imperialist ideology.

Bayık also threatened to revive the PKK’s armed struggle, after a period of de facto ceasefire due to the initiative of (then Prime Minister) Erdoğan in 2012 authorizing National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan to carry out talks with PKK head Abdullah Öcalan, who is imprisoned for life and being held in the island prison of İmralı, south of Istanbul.

The threat to restart armed struggle is one of the main worries of the establishment, including the military, and is a source of unhappiness within the ruling AK Parti.

Ever since PM Davutoğlu asked Öcalan to issue a message to end the violent Oct. 6-7 protests, which he did, there has been a perception within judicial and security establishment, and within the AK Parti, that control over the process has been lost to the PKK.

Those worries were reportedly discussed in a National Security Board (MGK) meeting chaired by Erdoğan on Oct. 30 and were also raised by AK Parti deputies during a consultative conference chaired by Davutoğlu on Nov. 1-2.

AK Parti deputies do not want to go to the elections under the shadow of funerals for soldiers and policemen killed by the PKK. A recent public question asked of Erdoğan and Davutoğlu by Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), about whether they have been “blackmailed” by the PKK has echoed among AK Parti deputies, especially those from conservative and nationalist constituencies.  

What’s more, AK Parti deputies of Kurdish origin have reportedly been complaining about de facto PKK “courts,” “tax offices” and “conscript offices,” set up in parallel to the government’s courts and tax offices and conscript offices in the Kurdish-populated areas near the borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran, eroding the state’s authority.

Another complaint from AK Parti deputies is about the transparency of the peace process. HDP deputies know almost every detail regarding the dialogue, but a great majority of ruling AK Parti deputies hear nothing apart from the good wishes that “everything is going to be alright” offered by Erdoğan and Davutoğlu.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who is also in charge of the peace process, recently refused to answer questions about Bayık’s words, saying he was not the counterpart of a leader of a “terrorist organization.”

There has been no contact between the government and the HDP for more than 10 days now, as HDP sources confirm. The main reason for this is Öcalan’s resistance to calling on the PKK for a “cease of all actions” in order for talks to continue. It seems that Öcalan has no trust in the government and is under pressure from both the Kandil and Brussels wings of the PKK, that if any solution is to be postponed until after the election they can forget about it.

For the government, the PKK could start showing some good will by reining in those de facto “courts, tax and conscription offices” in its own “parallel” authority.

“The process will continue,” said another deputy prime minister in close contact with the HDP delegations visiting Öcalan in İmralı. “Bu we cannot compromise public order.”