The İmralı process and America
FUAT KEYMANThe İmralı process is continuing. It is a process that should be supported. We are supporting it anyway.
Change forces peace. The society supports peace. This process, at the same time, calls for a new security paradigm and a new state mentality. A stance based on cooperation, on managing the change of Turks and Kurds. The new state wisdom sees security in this cooperation.
Peace and security overlap.
We are passing through a process when peace increases security. The İmralı process is a process initiated by this new state mentality.
The success of this process depends on domestic developments as well as external factors. When you say external, it is the United States that comes to mind first. How does the U.S. regard the İmralı process, one wonders?
Does the U.S. support it?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Turkey last week. We have not adequately scrutinized this important visit.
I had emphasized in my previous columns that Kerry wanted give Turkey the message to, “At least start talking to Israel.” He did so.
He said even though there may not be any improvement in Turkish-Israeli relations, the fact that the two countries have started talking would only be beneficial to both sides.
The U.S. wants an improvement to a certain extent in Turkish-Israeli relations in 2013. President Obama will also make the same suggestion to the Israeli government in Israel.
For Turkey, it was important that Kerry said something on the Syrian crisis and the U.S.’s position on the İmralı process. That did not happen. Kerry’s statements both on Syria and the İmralı process were vague. More importantly, Kerry did not make a clear and full statement of support for the İmralı process.
He said the PKK was a terror organization. However, we were not able to draw from Kerry’s visit how much and to what level the U.S. supported Turkey in the PKK’s disarmament and afterward, the democratic solution to the Kurdish issue.
We know that the U.S. is not quite happy with the fast-developing and deepening relations of Turkey with northern Iraq. The U.S. is afraid that good relations between Turkey and northern Iraq would cause the separation of Iraq and that this would both start a bloody period of war and strengthen Iran. It adopts a stance for preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq and supports the Maliki government.
However, the same U.S., not only during the Iraq war period but also at the beginning of the first Obama term, had emphasized the necessity of supporting the cooperation between the Turks and the Kurds.
Today, Philip Gordon, in charge of North Africa and the Middle East at the U.S. State Department, wrote in a book he co-authored with Ömer Taşpınar, “Winning Turkey” (Washington, 2008), that he had placed as the first item in the suggestions section, “Supporting the Turkey-Kurds Major Negotiation (Cooperation).”
We have not heard this clear of support from Kerry. What has changed so that the strong suggestion in 2008 has been transformed into vagueness in 2013?
This is an interesting development to take note of.
New state mentality and foreign policy
The vague attitude of the U.S. to the İmralı process also shows us the necessity for Turkish foreign policy, which has entered a dead-end because of the Syrian crisis, to adopt a new vision.
A foreign policy vision calls for Turkey to start talking to Israel while strengthening its relations with northern Iraq in a demonstration of a clear stance supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity.
Both of these moves will be very beneficial and would strengthen Turkey’s hand.
They would generate new state wisdom based on the cooperation of Turks and Kurds and would strengthen Turkey.
Turkey, in the process of maturing its domestic peace should act based on a vision in its foreign policy. This would increase the support of the international community, primarily the U.S., for the İmralı process.
Fuat Keyman is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on March 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.
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