Back to a military option, for what?
It might appear lunacy to claim the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its mastermind, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are pulling the country into a calamity in hopes of fomenting nationalism and sweeping back to a sufficient electoral majority to form a single party government. This is a very wild and horrible hypothesis. It cannot be true. It should not be true.
According to what President Erdoğan said at the airport before leaving for a state visit to China, he was shocked to see the “Kurdish opening” had not translated into votes in the March local elections.
Furthermore, he said, he realized after the June 7 election that the Kurdish opening could no longer continue with the “people” - meaning the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) - as long as they did not engage fully in civilian politics and the ballot boxes were held hostage of the clandestine Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Was there anything wrong in the president’s assessment? Can there be a “peace opening” if ballot boxes are held hostage and people discussing peace persistently refusing to denounce terrorism? But, why did the president realize this awkward situation so late? Was it not he who launched the ambiguous Kurdish opening? Was it not he who welcomed on Oct. 19, 2009, the return of the PKK members from the Habur customs gate with northern Iraq as something to be celebrated? Well, after seeing PKK supporters convert the “return home” into a big victory over the Turkish state and the polls show a sharp decrease in the AKP’s popularity, did not he order the opening be intermitted for a while?
Was the HDP or its forefather, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), different than what it is today? When the latest “opening” started in March 2013? Or was the HDP of today much different than the HDP whose top executives flanked by senior government ministers just back from a session with enforced life-time convict Abdullah Öcalan made that 10-point Dolmabahçe declaration on Feb. 28, 2015?
Why then is there this effort to close down the HDP because it was not denying its “support” for the PKK, or refusing to denounce terrorism? Has there been anything new on that front? Including this writer, many people in Turkish society stressed all along that there cannot be civilian politics without denouncing terrorism and use of force. Right from the beginning many people criticized the “opening” as a deception and as a doomed effort because it was ambiguous and most likely devoid of sincerity.
Now, seeing what’s happening can we say there was sincerity behind the Kurdish opening? It has become all the more clear that it was just an electoral ploy and the AKP seeing that the ploy did not work or worse worked just the other way on June 7, is now resorting to the tactics of the 1990s, that is, a “security-centered nationalist approach.” Will that help? Unfortunately not.
Even the worst skeptics of the Kurdish opening have always underlined that the use of a military option and security-oriented approaches repeatedly failed over the past 30 years to bring a resolution to the Kurdish issue, or the eastern problem or whatever one may prefer to call it. Whether we like it or not, there is a problem and this problem is not just the separatist terrorism issue, though the PKK has been a pain in the neck. That is, Turkey is compelled to deal with the problem of its ethnic Kurdish population and find ways to comfort their legitimate demands on the basis of equality for all citizens. If there was not a HDP, Turkey must have created a HDP because dialogue can be the only option for resolution if we are to avoid the military or use of force option.
The AKP and Erdoğan might be panicked seeing polls that the AKP’s rating has gone down to 39 percent and the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) down to 13 while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP are on the rise, respectively at 28 and 15 percent. Banning the HDP or imprisoning many of the 80 HDP deputies may help the AKP win a higher number of seats from southeastern provinces and may, with a decreased vote, win sufficient majority to form a single party government.
Pulling Turkey into a war, disrupting and paralyzing civilian politics, fomenting hatred and enmity in society through various “skillful acts” of the intelligence agency as well as those of the sticky wickets may help the AKP and Erdoğan regain their lost control of Turkey, but is it worth it?