The new reality
External as well as internal factors are leading to the redistribution of cards, the redrawing of borders in the region. The idea of Turkey expanding its borders to include oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan is nothing new for the abundant “deep strategists.” While trying to expand borders, however, Turkey may find itself bidding farewell to some fundamental parts of the motherland.
A draft presented to Parliament by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the hope of carrying the “Kurdish opening” to a new dimension – a move hailed by the separatist chieftain serving a life sentence as “a historical move” – is being criticized as an “election concession” to ethnic-Kurdish politics. Many people are claiming that the timing of the presentation of the draft to Parliament was very meaningful. Why? Because Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to buy – if not in the first round but in a probable rerun – votes from the ethnic Kurdish population. Frankly, something is happening in Turkey all the time and any such move would coincide with something important. With such a mentality nothing can be achieved. The issue is whether the draft was something serving the national and territorial integrity of the country or providing some sort of a judicial umbrella for those who might work for Turkey’s disintegration.
The stipulation that people ordered to carry out contacts in the country or outside the country would not be held responsible of their actions in the face of the law is an ill mentality. Giving blanket immunity to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and whoever is assigned to carry out something for MİT was already a problematic undertaking. Why provide now such a wide immunity for people who would bargain over peace with the separatist terrorist gang? The draft indeed strongly implies that some bad things will be undertaken but those undertaking such ugly things will have blanket immunity.
Thus, what’s problematic is the mentality, not what some want to achieve. This country and this nation have long surrendered – with some exceptions – to the idea of a painful compromise that would end separatist terrorism. If not to a federal setup, the idea of local administrative consolidation just short of autonomy is more or less accepted. Some indeed are already talking of local autonomy. In this framework, how could Kurds vote for a consolidated Erdoğan presidency while they have been campaigning all along for local autonomy will be a really interesting. Could that really happen?
With Iraq inching gradually toward disintegration and some regional players already indicating their intention to recognize an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, Turkey providing a resolution to its Kurdish problem has become all the more important. How could a Turkey at odds with its own Kurds be the “protector” of a Kurdish state, while in the not-so-distant future protecting a Kurdish state might soon become a requirement for Turkish national security. Nourishing terrorism is a difficult business. Yesterday’s “Sunni brothers” may, all of a sudden, become a nightmare of the day, let alone the night! In a divided Iraq, Kurdish northern Iraq might become a buffer zone to fend off Islamist terrorism and such threats from Turkish lands.
The wild dreams inherited from the Turgut Özal period in the early 1980s might instill wilder hopes in some quarters of the AKP’s policy-making echelons to achieve a “grand Turkey” with the inclusion, in a federal Turkey, of the Kurdish state of northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurds were buying such an idea at the time but they were under the constant threat of annihilation by Saddam Hussein. Would they buy the idea now? Even if they buy the idea, could today’s Turkey continue on after such an expansion? These are raw and dangerous hopes. Turkey must harmonize itself with the new reality, rather than engaging in shallow obsessive, dictatorial rhetoric. The current draft in Parliament underlines that finally something is in the pipeline, but that something – whatever it might be – is criminal under the current law.
Has the time not come for the AKP to open its hands and disclose what that ambiguous Kurdish opening indeed is?