The peace train, once again - ALI BAYRAMOĞLU

The peace train, once again

The meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and parliamentarians from the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) signaled a “turnaround.” There are signs that the reconciliation process is once again gaining momentum, as the Kobane crisis and the Oct. 6-7 incidents are left behind…

The very fact that the political leadership’s precondition of “respect for public order” and the Kurdish side’s conditions that include more maneuvering space for Abdullah Öcalan and the creation of a committee of observers were even considered during the meeting can provide the spark for “a fresh start.”

The will for peace never wavered despite all the problems that were experienced, all the events that unfolded, and all the tough stances that were adopted. The fact that no untoward events occurred in Turkey on Nov. 1 World Kobane Day had shown that the organization (the term used to refer to the PKK) had not entertained the thought of completely severing itself from the process.

The state, too, despite strongly-worded statements, not even once abandoned its will for peace and constantly reiterated its belief in the process even at the most critical times. Davutoğlu’s meeting with the Committee of Wise Men was an open expression of this sentiment.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the peace train is moving again. Peace processes always move along a bumpy road and are always interspersed with clashes. What matters is that the process continues and the causes that result in clashes are tackled after the clashes abate.

Where do we find ourselves at in this regard?

We are facing both positive and negative aspects. A positive aspect that can be clearly seen is linked to the change in approach toward Kobane and Rojava.

The prevention of the fall of Kobane; the abandoning of a distant stance by Turkey and its voicing of clear support for the residents of Kobane in the face of ISIL by making it possible for the Peshmerga to transit via Turkey; and its indirect support for the PYD (Democratic Union Party, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK) despite labeling it as a terrorist organization are all important developments.

These developments can be defined as the flexibility and depth of Turkish policy on Rojava. Turkey, which considered the Rojava issue to be completely related to the Syrian problem before the crisis, started giving it the same political significance as it does to northern Syria after the crisis. In one sense, it realized the specific significance of this region and the impact it has on the reconciliation process in Turkey.

I believe that another aspect that can be seen reflects that, contrary to official statements, the link between Rojava and the reconciliation process is being seen as a sociological and political reality rather than just organizational propaganda.

The most specific aspect of this reality is the adding of new dimensions to Turkey’s Kurdish problem as a result of the creation of a new Kurdish space in the Middle East; the intervention of outside powers like the United States in the creation of this space; and the changing Kurdish aspirations within this framework.

At this point in time, Turkey’s tolerance limit with regard to the PYD’s presence in the region has risen due to the United States entering the fray and the PYD’s sharing of power with the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party, of northern Iraq) in Rojava and the PYD being pushed to establish closer ties to the Free Syrian Army.

When it comes to the negative aspects, it is the continuation of the discrepancies regarding the reconciliation process that arose due to the eruption of the Oct. 6-7 events. The gap that exists between Kurdish expectations of autonomy and Turkish expectations of disarmament as part of the reconciliation process resembles a grenade lobbed into the middle with its safety pin removed.

Overcoming this discrepancy is possible if Turkey distances itself from the stance of “only talks targeted at disarmament can be held with the PKK and Öcalan. The Kurdish problem cannot be negotiated with them” and also distances itself from a “policy of ambiguity” with regard to the future.

I hope we will reach this stage quickly, without incurring too much hurt and without wasting time. 

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