Does the PKK realise it has much less room for manoeuvre in the ‘peace process’?

Abdullah Öcalan delivered the following message on Oct. 6, via his brother, Mehmet Öcalan, who visited him in prison:

“We will wait for the peace [process] until Oct. 15. I will tell the delegations visiting [me] my opinion [about the process], then I can do nothing more. Then there is no settlement process, and no negotiation.”

Today is Oct. 15.

On the one hand is the complicated Kobani revolt that drew two-thirds of the population in some districts (which should be read as the “Kurds’ Gezi protests) and the what it suggests regarding Turkey’s future.

On the other hand is the ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ approach befitting the old Turkey, of President Erdoğan who said, “both the police and soldiers will do what is necessary, instead of holding riot shields” and of Prime Minister Davutoğlu who said, “we will buy five or 10 TOMAs for each TOMA [anti-riot water cannon vehicle] destroyed.”

What’s more worrisome, the proposed law amendments that will enhance the police the power to shoot, that as a whole mean a new emergency rule for Turkey, is also merged into debates on the peace process.

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), reacted  in Parliament:

“It seems that they will take only the police of Europe as an example. You need to import the liberal, democratic laws of Germany first.”

Each tension, each mass opposition spreading from universities to streets, whether it contains violence or not, is used by the government to rapidly restore Turkey to the known factory settings of despotism.

Then, what about the issue called as ‘peace process’?

İdris Baluken, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Group Chairman, said on the other day that the government shared a draft roadmap –  only a one-page document, not the entire roadmap, he added – regarding the peace process.

The six-item ‘draft roadmap’ – assuming what were shared contain the actual intentions – boils down to stating the obvious.

The first step envisages the activation of Monitoring and Coordination Boards.

(It is known that all members of these boards will be from the government and the bureaucracy. These boards will not have anyone from the Wise Men, NGOs, or independent lawyers.)

The ‘most critical stage’ in the draft roadmap is about the ‘withdrawal [of the PKK militants]’ to take place in next February.

The other four steps are as follows:

* The PKK’s announcing that it will not take up arms against Turkey.

* Paving the way for the return of the militants (into Turkey).

*Reintegration of the returned PKK members into society.

*Taking administrative legal steps to allow some, but not all, PKK members to be actively involved in politics.

Let us summarise, then:

First: Everybody with sound reason agrees that the peace process should go on..

Because the keeping the cease-fire is utterly important.

But there is no point in building high hopes of further advances, by looking at the draft.

Transparency is out of the question in the ‘new Turkey.’ So, it’s only normal that there are a lot of question marks about what Erdoğan’s intention, his real purpose is when he talks about the peace process.

A realistic interpretation of the draft is the following:

The proposed  withdrawal, due in February 2015, has been planned to create favorable conditions for AK Party before the general elections in June 1 2015, taking into consideration the situation in the region, too.

The draft contains partial, not general, amnesty.

It doesn’t mention the recognition of constitutional rights like education in the mother tongue, self-ediministration or truth commissions.

It pushes the PKK to a point that is hard to accept.

There appears to be a shrewdly-constructed strategy behind:

Erdoğan makes the best of Öcalan’s status as a de facto ‘hostage’, preferring to hold the reins through a vague plan, while doing a subtle calculation in his mind that the PKK cannot open a second front in Turkey simultaneously with the one in Syria, and that if it does he can quickly align with soldiers and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Erdoğan paves the way for ‘absolute power’ step by step, intent on instrumentalising the  peace process as a means, not an end.

Kurdish political movement is in a dire situation: it has been seeing its room for maneuver reduced.

It’s hard to predict what lie ahead for that part, the PKK, how it will act, in the rest of the ‘process’.

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About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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