Razing towns in the PKK fight

Razing towns in the PKK fight

As the fierce 7-month-long fight between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with its demands of self-rule leaves more bodies behind, the political polarization around it also escalates to unprecedented levels.

Yesterday, on April 5, Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), made a call to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in parliament, saying the government should provide three days for those who want to leave the Syria border town of Nusaybin and then raze it to the ground if necessary, killing all who resist the security forces in order to bring an absolute end to the situation, existential for the country.  “We can build the town anew,” Bahçeli added.

“It is already happening,” Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said, responding to Bahçeli’s remarks. “They should have their parliamentary meetings together with the Justice and Development Party [AK Parti].” Meanwhile, a number of HDP members of parliament attended a birthday demonstration for the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, a step which hardly contributed to the easing of tension.

Among a number of towns in Turkey’s east and southeast, near its borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran, Nusaybin in the southeastern province of Mardin has been perhaps the hardest of all for security forces in the fight with the PKK. It is a town separated by the Syria border from its other half, Qamishli, which is run by both the Syrian government and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is regarded as the Syrian branch of the PKK. A Russian military unit has been based there, according to media reports because of its strategic location, under the justification of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The municipality of Nusaybin is run by HDP co-mayors, a reason why the government has been accusing the HDP of letting the PKK use municipal vehicles and facilities to erect hundreds of barricades, ditches, tunnels and booby traps which claim more and more of the lives of security forces trying to control the town.

Because of a recent statement by President Tayyip Erdoğan, who had said that during the dialogue with the PKK (between 2012-2015) they overlooked the activities of the PKK which were exaggerated by the governors and also abused by the PKK, the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been accusing the AK Parti governments of turning a blind eye to the PKK’s preparations piling up explosives, ammunition, weapons and other material to carry out an extended fight. “You are responsible for every lost life in Nusaybin and other places,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, blaming Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s AK Parti.

Davutoğlu, who last week spoke of a resumption of dialogue if the HDP agreed to return to 2013 references, said yesterday that it was impossible to talk to the PKK once again, following Erdoğan closing the door on any dialogue in a speech on April 4.

Erdoğan raised the bar to a new maximum height in the late afternoon of April 5, saying it would not be enough to strip HDP deputies involved in PKK activities of their immunities, but perhaps it was time to extradite all terrorism convicts from Turkish citizenship.

It is not possible to think this rise in tension is independent of an approaching and much-talked about operation by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL in Syria and Iraq, especially with ongoing differences of opinions between U.S. President Barack Obama and Erdoğan on the role of the PYD. But the fight against acts of terror by both the PKK and ISIL inside Turkey has begun to poison the political atmosphere badly.