Turkey’s challenged ‘Kurdish solution’ roadmap

Turkey’s challenged ‘Kurdish solution’ roadmap

There was a detectable concern within the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a party primarily focused on the Kurdish Issue, on Nov. 7 regarding the future of the dialogue between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in pursuit of a political solution for Turkey’s chronic problem.

There were two reasons for that worry according to the HDP sources speaking on the condition of anonymity: One of those reasons is the media reports in the last few days about the reluctance of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government whether to continue the process unless there is a clear signal from the PKK side to close itself to all kinds violence, including street protests. Another is perhaps more worrying for the HDP – and taken almost as evidence for the media reports, is the silence from the government side.

“We have not been able to establish any contact with any government official for almost 10 days,” said one senior HDP source on the phone; “We asked for appointments more than once, but there has been no response” as of the evening of Nov. 7.

According to the neither confirmed, nor denied press reports, the government is considering to review a “roadmap” draft, supposedly agreed upon by Abdullah Öcalan, the founding leader of the PKK, now kept on the İmralı Island-prison south of Istanbul.

The details of that draft roadmap have not been made officially public so far. Therefore it has not been possible to make even educated guesses about a revision.

According to HDP sources talking to Hürriyet Daily News, the details of that draft roadmap, told to them by government officials in September, was as follows:

- Öcalan would tell the HDP delegation visiting him at İmralı that he was prepared to make a call for an “absolute cease of action” short of militants leaving arms and leaving Turkish borders,

- After that declaration, the HDP delegation would take that message to the PKK political-military headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq,

- Following an approval by Kandil, the government would let Öcalan move to a separate building on İmralı, sort of a “house arrest” there with a “secretariat” to help his communications with the outside,
- Öcalan would make his call for a “cease of action” through that “secretariat,”

- At that stage, a delegation of independent observers, who would be called the “3rd Eye,” consisting of 12-16 people, would be formed. That delegation and a group of journalists would be allowed to visit Öcalan in prison and speak with him,

- Following Kandil’s public approval of Öcalan’s call, the government would submit major changes in the legal system, including the Anti-Terrorism Law and the laws to enable dropping arms and becoming integrated with the society for PKK militants. By this way a new stage would start; from talks through the intelligence service (MİT) to parliamentary work,

- Then, Öcalan would call for an end to armed struggle and drop arms, which would pave the way for constitutional amendments.

Öcalan was supposed to speak about the draft to the HDP delegation during their visit on Sept. 7, four days after MİT chief Hakan Fidan’s delivery of the government message to Öcalan on Sept. 3, but he did not; not even on Oct. 1.

Öcalan’s resistance according to HDP sources was this step-by-step model; he did not have trust in the government and he wanted all of the steps to be taken at once. But feelings were reciprocal and the government did not have full confidence in Öcalan as well.

In the meantime, on Sept. 20, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) released the hostages it had taken from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in June and intensified its attacks on the Syrian town of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab), near the Turkish border, which was defended by PKK militants and the militia of their sister organization in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Their demand from the Turkish government to give arms and let PKK/PYD armed forces go into Kobane using Turkish territory was denied.

On Oct. 1, the date that the HDP delegation was in İmralı, Davutoğlu government received permission from Parliament for the use of force in Iraq and Syria against ISIL and the PKK, and at the same time established commissions regarding dialogue with the PKK, seen as an important step to making the process transparent.

Despite the fact that the HDP delegation expressed optimism after the talk and talked about a possible turning point by Oct. 15, it seems that the Kobane incident further positioned Öcalan’s reluctance to make the expected call to halt action.

Then came the PKK and HDP’s call for protests against the government during which more than 40 people were killed in street violence between Oct. 6-7. Davutoğlu had to ask for Öcalan to issue a message to stop the protests, which he did.

The situation did not change during the HDP visit to Öcalan on Oct. 21, two days after a telephone conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barack Obama, who have agreed that Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces, rather than PKK/PYD forces should go to Kobane to support the resistance there.

But after the visit, Sırri Süreyya Önder, an HDP member of Parliament, as the spokesman of the group told the press – following a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan – that there could be developments like forming a “secretariat,” and if things flow smoothly, a peace was possible in 4-5 months’ time, toward the end of March.

Those statements reportedly caused some reaction, even within the AK Parti. The perception of the “secretariat” was a “PKK chairman office in İmralı prison” and the timing looked as if set for the elections scheduled for June 2015.

The lack of contact with the government that the HDP sources complained for the last 10 days coincide with an interesting calendar: On Oct. 30, there was the National Security Board (MGK) meeting chaired by Erdoğan. Between Nov. 1-2, there were AK Parti meetings chaired by Davutoğlu, with some reporting about MPs complaining about the government losing control to the PKK. Davutoğlu met with the MİT and the army on Nov. 4 and 5 and Erdoğan said on Nov. 6 that those who caused the deaths of 40 people did not have the right to talk about peace.

That is the background of the tension which the HDP hopes to end.