Where are the Kurds headed?

Where are the Kurds headed?

While the fight against terror continues with the bravery of the Turkish military and police forces, the question of the deeper waves in the Kurdish issue is not coming to anyone’s mind. 

It is obvious that our Kurdish citizens in the region are against trenches and barricades erected by militants. Voices openly criticizing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are increasingly loud. The HDP’s calls are not reaching a receptive audience. 

However, the entire reality does not consist of this only. There are many other questions. Are those who are distancing themselves from the PKK and the HDP drifting toward the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)? Local shopkeepers and workers are angry at the PKK, but why do youths continue to join the PKK? What is the stance of the “conservative Kurds,” who are an extremely important component both in terms of election results and in terms of Turkey’s sociology?  

HDP Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan has an Islamist background, rather than a pro-PKK background. He has embraced the principles of Western democracy. His mother is Turkish, his father is Kurdish. Maybe because of all these characteristics, he is able to look from different angles. As a Kurdish politician opposing the PKK’s terror, his observations must be taken seriously. 

Recently, Tan spoke to private broadcaster Habertürk about the general sentiment of the Kurds. “They are angry at the AKP, they are raging against both the PKK and the state. They want a resolution and peace,” Tan said, adding that a new political party of conservative Kurds may emerge. 

Similarly, columnist Etyen Mahçupyan wrote in daily Karar that the AKP was losing sympathy in the southeast. At the same time, youth recruitment to the PKK is continuing at the same pace. 

Meanwhile, Mehmet Yanmış, from Dicle University’s Religious Sociology Department, has argued that as the AKP and piousness are regarded as equal values, the Kurds who are angry at the AKP are also distancing themselves from religious symbols and worship. What’s more, some youths are developing increasingly Islamophobic feelings, which are also compounded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) barbarism. 

In a sum, there are a series of emotional detachments. One meaning of this disengagement is that even conservative Kurds are becoming estranged from the political system. 

It should also be noted that the playing of the janissary marches and other national marches after the end of anti-terror operations in towns can only further fuel these emotional detachments. 

The AKP’s policies and discourses on this issue, throughout its 14-year-old rule, have varied depending on their calculations, and whether it is trying to woo votes from the HDP grassroots or the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) grassroots. This has brought it some votes, but at the same time it has created an erosion of confidence. 

The AKP’s confrontational discourse has created tension in the country. The Kurdish issue does not consist only of terrorism. Even if we continue fighting against terrorism “until eternity,” as some have vowed, other major political problems may emerge. 

Alongside the fight against terror, a new set of policies should be developed. Calm, sophisticated, wise, fined-tuned policies, absolutely respecting democratic values, should be formed that could relieve tension across the whole country.