NOTES FROM KANDIL 3: WHERE THERE’S A WILL . . .

“Before the election, we spent the most silent winter of the last 25 years. That means whenever soldiers want, they can wait.”
~ Murat Karayılan.

The first of June will see the end of the current PKK ceasefire period, at least as far as we can tell at the moment. Whether the ceasefire is continued is something we will know after the first. In the meantime, here is the continuation of the interview by Hasan Cemal with KDK Executive Committee Chairman Murat Karayılan, as excerpted from Cemal’s column at Milliyet:

“For Silencing Weapons, The Will Is Important”

“First silence weapons, let no one attack another!” So says Murat Karayılan . . . Is it so hard to achieve this? For this firstly PKK must disappear from sight. It is a must for them to retreat to places where they will have no contact with troops. As Talabani said, “PKK declares a ceasefire, but they do not retreat far enough. They stay in the places where, every time, they meet soldiers.” Whereas Murat Karayılan says, “We decide about being non-operational, we retreat but soldiers continue to advance. In this situation, we need to defend ourselves.” In this situation, what’s going to be done? To put it simply: Two sides will stop! No one is going to pull the trigger.

[ . . . ]

Two Sides Will Stop; No One Will Pull the Trigger.

“First silence the weapons, let no one attack another!” So says Murat Karayılan. Is it so hard to achieve this? For this firstly PKK must disappear from sight. It is a must for them to retreat to places where they will have no contact with troops.

This is an important point.

In October 2007 Iraq’s president Talabani told me in Baghdad, “Well, okay, PKK declares a ceasefire, but they do not retreat far enough. They stay in the places where, every time, they meet soldiers.” At this point, Murat Karayılan blames the soldiers. “We decide about being non-operational, we retreat but soldiers continue to advance. In this situation, we need to defend ourselves.” In this situation, what’s going to be done?

To put it simply: Two sides will stop! No one is going to pull the trigger.

This was a hot issue, too, during PKK’s 1993 ceasefire. Demirel, who was sitting in the prime minister’s chair, told me, “The man sees the fire, even saying that he is willing to lay his arm down, you are going over him with your tanks and your artillery. This has to be thought about.”

In April 1993 Talabani came to Ankara with the following message after having a talk with Öcalan in Damascus:

Turkish security forces, too, must obey the ceasefire; If there is an operation called “Spring Operation”, this must be deferred; Some signs of a general amnesty must be given; For a political solution, different dialog channels must be opened.

This was the message from Öcalan in 1993.

Öcalan had drawn the framework of the message to me in the talk that I had in Bekaa during April 1993 with him.

Right in those days, with the Bingöl attack–which has not been revealed even today but accepted as an attack from PKK–33 soldiers were martyred, the ceasefire ended; meanwhile, Özal died. The watershed in The Southeast grew. Unfortunately, with 17 thousand-plus extrajudicial murders, a door was opened wide to unlawfulness, to Susurluk, and even to Ergenekon.

If There Is Willpower, Weapons Will Be Silenced

This was the ceasefire in 1993 which Murat Karayılan, at our meeting in Kandil, mentioned as a “missed opportunity”.

Sixteen years have passed; Öcalan was captured, [and is] now in Imralı.

But PKK is not finished; it’s still in the mountains!

However, I think it wants to come down. And today it can be mentioned about one more peace opportunity. I am thinking about the things Karayilan told me and the messages that he wanted to give while coming down from Kandil to the valley.

There are similarities with 1993.

Can weapons really be silenced? Can provocation be avoided?

It is still a fresh incident: The ones who made that terrible massacre in Mardin, the village guards, admitted that they had planned their bloody raid to blame PKK.

So, what should be the first step?

Silencing weapons . . .

Is it so hard?

Both sides will not pull the trigger, thus weapons will be silenced.

Here the important thing is will power and determination.

If it exists, weapons will be silenced.

Obviously there are warmongers on both sides. We have to be alert to “provocations”; this is the most critical point in such a process.

Yes, a ceasefire will be declared.

PKK will pull back farther.

Soldiers will not advance after!

In short: Triggers will not be pulled!

In Kandil, Murat Karayılan told me, “Before the election, we spent the most silent winter of the last 25 years. That means whenever soldiers want, they can wait,” by this, I guess, he was pointing out this reality.

Why shouldn’t the required political will power be shown in Ankara for this? Since the most silent winter of the last 25 years passed, and while soldiers can wait, why can’t this time period be extended?

Yes, why?

In an environment where weapons are not being fired, a different mechanism may be operated behind the screen, the dialog process may start.

To be continued.

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