Another way other than ‘prison or death’ to tackle terror

Another way other than ‘prison or death’ to tackle terror

Turkey’s prime minister and president recently delivered speeches which had certain nuances to say the least.

On April 3 the prime minister said, “If the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] would turn back to May 2013, everything can be talked about.” If the PKK “were to leave all arms and go outside the border,” then “everything could be discussed.”

The president said this the next day:

“Either they [the PKK] will surrender and accept the decision of the judiciary or be neutralized one-by-one cornered in their holes.”

The president added there was “no third way.” 

What the prime minister had said was sort of a “third way,” but the following day the prime minister spoke in parallel with the president.

Important nuance

There is no fundamental difference between them, as both are underlining a resolute fight against terror. But there is a nuance and that nuance is important. I have been writing for a long time on the need to support the fight against terror. In fact, while the government used to praise the solution process “as the only success story in the Middle East,” I had warned against the arming of the PKK and the “sovereignty practices” such as the road controls of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

It cannot be expected from the state to call for negotiation as terror is trying to create sovereign spaces in urban centers via barricades and ditches, which goes beyond the acts that were undertaken in rural regions in the 1990’s.

Asking the state to sit at the table without criticizing terror is either naivety or indicates some other political intention.

Yet, we also need to seriously think about this: Would leaving terrorists with no other choice but “prison or death” facilitate or further complicate the fight against terrorism?

A political and psychological dimension 

Politics and psychology are as important as operations in the fight against terrorism.

Policies on how to weaken the sociological factor, which feeds the terror structure despite the death of 30,000 militants in 30 years, need to be developed.

That cannot take place only with the expectation of welfare. The potential for terrorism did not diminish but rather increased despite the fact initiatives on Kurdish culture and identity were undertaken and huge investments were diverted to the region, because terror and the base it relies on want a “sovereign geography,” something the state cannot accept.

At this stage there is a need for policies to disperse the death and psychology of conflict which motivates terror, in other words, the way for politics without terror.

Those who follow the publications of the KCK would see how the organization is afraid of getting loose. This fact can be seen in the decisions of the KCK and the reactionary statements made by Kandil Mountain, the headquarters of the PKK, after Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, said during Nevruz 2013 that “the period of armed struggle is over, the period of political struggle has started.”

One should take this factor into account while operations against terrorism continue.

A way without terror

First of all, if the militants in the mountains and the cities, and their families, were to see there was another way other than “prison or death,” then this would start a debate.

The field studies of academics Vahap Coşkun and Mehmet Yanmış show how this factor is important.

Such a statement will provide additional support in the international public opinion.