The Kurds’ dangerous game

The Kurds’ dangerous game

Under different circumstances, it would be a sign of great hope to witness an alliance between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Kurdish political movement. Since the Kurdish issue has always been an important aspect of democratization, any possibility of reconciliation with the government would promise a great chance for the democratization of Turkey’s politics. Alas, nowadays, the tacit alliance between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and the government presents more of a risk of further complicating the present political crisis than anything else.

It is perfectly understandable that Kurds do not want a confrontation with the government since it could endanger “the peace processes.” Indeed, Kurds paid a very high price over the decades to come to this point, and they do not want to miss this chance by getting involved in the recent fight within the governing coalition of conservatives. Moreover, they are alarmed by the prospect of the victory of the more nationalist political actors against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party. After all, the Gülen movement is known to be critical of the latest negotiations with Öcalan, one of the opposition parties is the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the other, so-called social democrat Republican People’s Party (CHP), does not promise any hope for a solution to the Kurdish issue. Kurds rightly think that if Erdoğan loses power, there may be a nationalist rise; that is why they have been considering supporting Erdoğan so that he emerges from the crisis in return for an improvement in the peace talks.

Nevertheless, it is a major miscalculation for more than one reason. First, it cannot avoid appearing like the acceptance of an “indecent proposal” to give a hand to the PM to whitewash not only the corruption probes, but also his autocratic responses in the face of allegations. I do not know if it will work or fail, but in the end, such an alliance will result in the Kurdish political movement losing legitimacy in the struggle for democratization and will strip it of moral superiority. Leaving aside the more critical voices, even those democrats and left-liberals who have supported the Kurdish movement all the way have started to express disenchantment with Kurdish politics, as a result of the possibility of such an indecent alliance. As Turkey is sliding toward a more authoritarian regime, it becomes more and more difficult for the democrats to approve of the Kurdish political calculations.

Second, such an alliance has less chance of working than failing, since the AKP will be very cautious not to be seen in such an alliance to avoid nationalist criticism and will not deliver much in terms of the peace process. Besides, the peace process which has been restricted to Turkish intelligence so far and does not seem likely to go beyond it in the short run. Kurds and their leader may need to wait longer to be acknowledged as legitimate actors in serious political negotiations. Besides, under the circumstances, the process may start to be increasingly seen as the Kurds’ contribution to the rise of an “intelligence state” in Turkey. 

It is true that, the Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), is careful to be equally critical of both sides who are fighting with each other, namely the Gülen movement and the government. Nevertheless, Öcalan and the BDP did not hesitate to define the whole affair as a “coup” attempt against the government from the beginning. Moreover, they agreed with the government that there is a “global plot” against the government and named “London-based capitalist circles, the Chicago circle, the Jewish lobby and Armenian and Greek nationalists” as major actors in the worldwide conspiracy. In fact, this is the most painful aspect of the disappointment with the Kurdish political discourse on behalf of many democrats in Turkey. It seems that, at the end of the day, Turkish conspiratorialism has met its Kurdish counterpart to enforce authoritarian politics in the country.

Finally, apart from the matters of principle, it is a big miscalculation on behalf of Kurds to invest their hopes in the governing party, since it has lost enormous legitimacy on the domestic, regional and international fronts. Kurdish peace is a regional and even an international issue, as well as a domestic one, and no political government suffering from all the weaknesses that the AKP is suffering can afford to get involved in such a serious problem, let alone solve it.