PKK leaving the HDP in an impossible situation

PKK leaving the HDP in an impossible situation

The main enemy of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) turns out to be the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This group is proving its credentials as a terrorist organization once again, and seems more than ready to douse the fire with more petrol in the hope of benefiting from the conflagration.  

With every report of soldiers or policemen killed by the PKK, we have cases of innocent Kurds in central and western Turkey coming under attack by what can only be characterized as incensed nationalist lynching mobs out for “Kurdish blood.” Meanwhile, HDP offices across the country are coming under attack. None of this perturbs the PKK though.  

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) clearly want to push the HDP below the electoral threshold, and are accused of actively working for this by underhand means in the lead-up to early elections in November. Matters have come to such a head now that if they want, they can hold back on this and let the PKK do the rest. 

What is also becoming clearer is that the PKK is not considering the political, social and economic welfare of the Kurdish people. It is pursuing its private agenda at the expense of Kurds. Turkey has proved it is a country where a pro-Kurdish party can pass the 10 percent electoral threshold and send as many deputies to parliament as the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 

It has proved that a prominent Kurdish politician from the HDP, namely Selahattin Demirtaş, can run for the office of Turkish president, and garner sympathy among Turks for the responsible manner in which he ran his campaign. No one in their right mind will claim that Kurdish rights have been respected to the full in this country, of course. 

This is clearly not so when judged by the universal standards of democracy and human rights. But then the same can be said for the democratic rights of Turks. In the meantime, no one can deny the cultural, social and political rights gradually secured by the Kurds over the past decade.

In short, the Kurdish political movement in Turkey was on the right track, moving toward a target which promised the long desired peace between Turks and Kurds. The PKK has contributed significantly to stopping this trend. Until recently, many Turks who voted for the HDP in June were determined to do so again in November in order to defy the undemocratic stance of Erdoğan and the AKP toward the party.

The PKK has left many of these people in a quandary now, and for the first time there is the real possibility that the HDP may not pass the threshold, not just because of the government, but also because of the PKK.

Western governments who want Turkey to concentrate on its commitment to fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are clearly concerned about these developments. They are aware that there is little chance Ankara will take this commitment seriously when the PKK is determined to escalate its war against Turkey. 

Meanwhile, the PKK is also relying on the good press and sympathy it has secured in the West because of its contribution against ISIL. Some say the PKK’s contributions against ISIL will make it difficult for the West to sympathize with Turkish operations against it. If true, this will only make matters more intractable. 

The PKK may be providing short-term advantages against ISIL, but its war against Turkey is contributing to regional instability, which will ultimately make the fight against ISIL more difficult. If Turkey’s allies refuse to help it fight the PKK, this will only dissuade Turkey from going all out against ISIL. The bottom then will be that that terrorism wins either way. 

The principle loser, however, will be the HDP, which has been put in an impossible positon by the PKK.