Abdulla Ocalan’s, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party’s jailed leader, recent announcement on peace process brought media attention inside and outside of Turkey. It is apparent that Ocalan is not willing the war to resume. Whatever measures are, he will take to keep Turkey away from a new wave of violence. Therefore, he tries to bring the peace talk to a success, and he is capable of doing it. By doing this, Ocalan gives another chance to AK Party’s government to step practical moves into real settlement negotiations.
Here we need to explain something about Ocalan’s message to Qandil and PKK leaders. He doesn’t ask PKK to lay down arms as AK Party media interprets, instead he asked PKK to keep the arms silent which is different from disarming.
Ocalan’s call was in very crucial and decisive period as we are heading to Newroz celebrations. It was highly expected that PKK will break the ceasefire and resume regular attacks on Turkey’s military bases inside Turkey. And of course, this time attacks would start not only on the borders but inside the cities. AK Party well understand that the Qandil threats were real as Ocalan cannot keep Qandil, Europe and Amed silent if these three sides do not see effective measures from the government in settlement process. Turkey should be serious, as they seem to be this time.
Ocalan is under the pressures by Kurdish new generation in Turkey and PKK’s leadership in Qandil, therefore; if Turkey would not have accepted Ocalan’s demands, things will go worse. The deputy prime minister of Turkey and Sirri Sureya Ondur’s press conference was the step PKK was waiting on. If they had not seen it, Spring will have a bloody raining over Turkey. The press conference gave another hope to the people as Kurds and Turks were living in a very decisive period.
Ocalan has been in a very difficult situation to keep his balance over PKK and keeping an upper hand over Turkey in keeping the peace talks alive. On one hand, Ocalan does not want his negotiations with Turkey to come to a deadlock, on the other hand he does not want Kurdish people and his rivals think that Ocalan has compromised for the State.
He also does not want AK Party to lose its clout among Turkish nationalists as any lose of AK Party’s influence will also affect the settlement process. In the meantime, for Ocalan would become very embarrassing if PKK had announced new strategies different from Imrali’s.
The announcement of a new phase of peace talks by Turkish deputy prime minister and the HDP Member of Parliament was a new development. Ocalan really wants both sides, Turkey and Kurds, to be the winners in the settlement that’s why he considers the concerns of both sides. In fact, he never lets the talks to die but he also does not easily accept the AK Party’s proposals, he has his demands that must be addressed. Ocalan was also worried about Qandil that PKK may decide on new dimensions that perhaps could lead the peace talks to a deadlock.
Now Kurdish demands for the negotiations have been addressed as the ten points have basically been written by Ocalan in Imrali, Turkey has only agreed upon.
Ocalan’s call on PKK to discuss lay down arms is definitely a serious call as he knows that by the time the conference will be held the Turkey’s promises will be vividly known if they are serious for the settlement talks or not. Unsurprisingly, Ocalan knows very well that PKK does not need this conference as PKK has already analyzed this subject as PKK’s disarmament is totally connected to the success of the democratization process in Turkey.
AK Party has well realized that PKK does not take down arms if their demands would not have been addressed, but we should not forget that we are heading to a very crucial election in Turkey. Both PKK and AK Party want to achieve something to convince their voters. If PKK lay down arms, they will lose their supporters and loyalists among Kurdish people in Turkey. On the other hand, AK Party also needs to win the nationalists’ votes. For most Turkish populations, hope of disarmament of the PKK will be a good tool to win the hearts and minds of the masses.
Both sides; the State and the PKK, know that resuming war is very easy. But if this time war resumes, ceasing it will be impossible. Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen should have given the AK Party a good lesson. On behalf of war, this time peace should win otherwise the blood which has been shed in the last 40 years between the PKK and the Turkish State, will be doubled only in a year as have seen this kind of violence in Syria. However, those forces that started Arab Spring in the Arab world were not stronger than PKK, and none of them have ever been as organized as PKK. If they were able to oust the regimes and start revolutions within the cities, it will be much easier for the PKK that HDP has almost %10 of the votes in Turkey, let alone that PKK owns one of the most effective and strongest guerrilla forces in the region; they have proved their strength in fighting against the most barbaric force, the so-called Islamic State.
Today’s Turkey has many enemies and rivals in the region and international arena. AK Party’s “Zero-Problem Policy” has turned to “%100 Problem” with neighbors. As Cemil Bayik, co-chair of KCK, said that it is easy to turn Turkey to another Syria. For PKK, however, it is clear that fighting against ISIS terrorists in Rojava (Kurdistan part of Syria) has a priority in PKK’s agenda so as to keep the revolution in Rojava up.
Turkey does not need only to solve the Kurdish question in the country but also to democratize the institutions. Ocalan and his pressure is what Turkey as a country needs today for democratizing the country, and he once again saved Turkey from becoming another battleground in a region that is boiling, but that might be the last chance for Turkey.