CHP’s proposal over Kurdish question stirs controversy

CHP’s proposal over Kurdish question stirs controversy

Doubtless to say, the need for a resolution to the Kurdish question means a lot for the stability and peace of today’s and tomorrow’s Turkey, which has been suffering massively from this trouble for the past 40 years.

Beyond its social, political, and economic implications, it has created one of the bloodiest terrorist organizations, the PKK, that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, including children and innocent civilians.

Although it has lost its capacity and manpower to a great extent over the past years due to continued intense anti-terror operations by Turkish security institutions, the PKK still has its main headquarters in northern Iraq and affiliations in northern Syria, posing a threat against Turkey and its people.

Over the past 40 years, Turkish politics had sought to find a path to solve this bleeding wound, with the most serious attempt taking place between 2011 and 2015 under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Since then, there has been no development regarding the solution to the Kurdish question through political means.

A recent statement by the main opposition leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has revived discussions over the issue. In a documentary broadcast over the weekend, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader underscored the need for resolving the problem through legitimate ways, meaning that the real interlocutor should be the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and not the PKK and its imprisoned chieftain, Abdullah Öcalan.

“Which is the legitimate institution? We can consider the HDP as a legitimate body. It has public support and is being represented in Parliament. I think that we can resolve this problem with this legitimate body,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Given the current composition of Turkish politics that is split under two main political camps - the government’s People’s Alliance and the opposition’s Nation Alliance - Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements are critically important for obvious reasons.

The AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have long been accusing the components of the Nation Alliance - the CHP, İYİ (Good) Party, the Democrat Party and the Felicity Party - of being in cooperation with the HDP which they consider as the political wing of the PKK. They were aiming to drive a wedge mainly between the CHP and the İYİ Party as the latter is very sensitive toward the fight against terror due to its nationalist identity.

Plus, Kılıçdaroğlu’s words come after the Constitutional Court accepted an indictment against the HDP that seeks the closure of the party on charges of having links with the terrorist organization.

Controversy over the CHP leader’s remarks sparked after former HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli challenged Kılıçdaroğlu that the real interlocutor should be Öcalan, who imprisoned on İmralı Island, if there is a will to solve the problem. Temelli later underlined that he was expressing his views and not the HDP’s institutional line. Some HDP sources have criticized Temelli for his statement but there was no official reaction from the party when this column was being written late afternoon on Sept. 21.

The CHP’s attempt is a clear move to keep the HDP and millions of Kurdish voters on the side of the Nation Alliance before the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections. The HDP has garnered more than six million votes in the 2018 elections and they will play an important role especially in the presidential polls that require 50 percent plus one vote for victory. Therefore, it will be important what response will be given by the AKP to balance the situation in the aftermath of the CHP’s move.