What pledges the intelligence agents made on behalf of the Turkish government and how the separatist chieftain serving an enforced life-term on İmralı island prison conveyed his order for an end to hunger strikes to over 600 inmates in over 60 prisons are issues that still require plausible answers. What is clear is the fact that all the intense efforts of the government and the unmatched swagger of the absolute ruler failed, but an imprisoned criminal ended the hunger strikes.
Who emerged victorious from the standoff? Is it not obvious? Can anyone say the tall, bold, bald and ever-angry absolute ruler was successful? Don’t be confused, it is good that the hunger strikes ended with the government giving up its intransigence and seeking the help of the separatist chieftain. But the damage is done. Turkey and the world saw once again the impotence of the government and the leading role the chieftain might play, not only in ending hunger strikes and such smaller problems but perhaps in providing a resolution to the separatist terrorism menace and even the Kurdish problem of the country.
Indeed the government move to draft legislation allowing for court defenses in Kurdish was instrumental in ending the hunger strikes. But everyone should concede that the government had been planning to take that step at least for the past year, thus it did not give in to terrorist demands.
What purpose then did the hunger strikes serve, since the only achieved goal would have been achieved anyhow, particularly as it had become apparent that the strikers did not hope to achieve the other two goals – education in Kurdish and improved prison conditions for the chieftain? Is it not clear? This was an operation to tell the government that it has to accept the separatist chieftain as its negotiating partner. What happened was the government, at least for ending the hunger strikes, allowed the chieftain to play a role. The government lost and the chieftain and his gang won in this standoff. The only consolation is that the hunger strikes ended without anyone losing their life.
Hearts and minds with Gaza
Israel’s indiscriminate aerial bombing in response to rocket-fire from Gaza highlighted once again the massive humanitarian tragedy continuing in the region. It also showed the urgency required in achieving a sustainable peace, which not only must provide inalienable rights to Palestinians with east Jerusalem as their capital, but also the right of Israel to exist behind secure borders. Turkey has been exerting all-out efforts for a diplomatic breakthrough and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was back in the region twice over the past few days. Israeli aggression has cost over 100 lives in Gaza and should definitely be stopped. The United Nations is incapable. The United States is backing Israel. The region is already very much like an arms depot. If Israel insists on bombing the depot, it may explode and engulf the entire region.