Not a Happy New Year to all!

Not a Happy New Year to all!

The title of my Aug. 1 column in the Hürriyet Daily News was the following: “Domestic War on Terror? God Forbid!” Unfortunately, our nightmares have come true since then as the government has started a full-fledged “war on terror” targeting not only the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but also “all elements” of the radical Kurdish political movement.

Despite all criticisms about the security approach, which has focused on a military solution to the Kurdish problem, military operations have started not only within the borders of Turkey but also in northern Iraq. All communication with the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has been cut off and many members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been jailed for links to the PKK’s civil organization, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). Even Öcalan’s lawyers and journalists have been arrested on similar accusations. All political demonstrations are being suppressed with the iron fist of the security services. Last week, the interior minister declared that even poetry and painting, artists and writers could be parts of terror and would be regarded as such. This is the picture at the end of the year.

Most recently, there was an “operational mistake” that killed 35 civilians. It seems that petty smugglers were mistaken for PKK fighters and killed in an air strike near the southeastern province of Şırnak. After a long silence, the government admitted “the mistake.” The terrible event increased tension in the region and further strained relations between the BDP and the government. It is not difficult to imagine that Kurds in the southeast feel more and more bitter toward the government and feel more and more alienated from the rest of the country in the wake of such terrible developments. We should remember that a short while ago that even a natural disaster – the earthquakes in Van – increased the feeling of alienation among the Kurds due to the rescue failures and the lack of adequate help.

A year ago, I, among many other critics, was claiming that the present politics of the government concerning the Kurdish problem were going nowhere. Now, I am sure that it is going somewhere and that it is a disaster. It is not only the army units that are mistaking civilians for PKK fighters, but that Turkish state and the government is mistaking the Kurdish problem as a “terror problem.” It is no secret that millions of Kurds support the idea of gaining some sort of political autonomy. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to differentiate the civil population from the outlawed Kurdish rebels not only in “military” but also in “political operations.” In fact, this is the main problem that has led to disaster in wars on terror all over the world.

In fact, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned similar civil casualties all over the world, especially in Afghanistan. It means that the prospect is rather gloomy if we are set to follow the example of Afghanistan and Iraq. Besides, those casualties are happening in “far-away countries” and have led to international controversies. Similar outcomes in a “domestic war on terror” cannot provide a comparison. A better comparison is the so-called Arab Spring. Nevertheless, it is no less a gloomy prospect since “the spring” has not really had a happy end.

I am so sorry to write all these terrible things at the very beginning of the new year instead of wishing Happy New Year to all. Unfortunately, however, wishful thinking does not bring a happy new year to all.