ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT THE WAY TO SOLVE THE KURDISH QUESTION

“Someone had convinced AKP that with such hawkish strategies it could finish DTP and weaken PKK. AKP thinks that the more it becomes hawkish, the more powerful it would become in the Southeast.”
~ Mithat Sancar, Ankara University.

Henri Barkey, American professor of international relations and long-time defender of the status quo, thinks that the US should mediate a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation in Turkey between the Ankara regime and the PKK. From the WSJ:

Turkish Kurds and the PKK too are signaling that they are ready for a compromise. The current PKK leader, for instance, in a long set of interviews with a renowned Turkish journalist said that the PKK was ready to abandon the armed struggle in exchange for a process that begins with a cessation of hostilities and discussions between Ankara and Turkish Kurdish political representatives. However, the situation is so complex that Turks and Kurds will need outside help to complete a deal. There are too many extremists on both sides who would love to scuttle this new opening. A U.S. role could be decisive.

In this paragraph, Barkey refers to the series by Milliyet’s Hasan Cemal, links to which can be found in this post. The problem is that the situation is not “so complex”, as Barkey characterizes it; it is really very simple and, since 2006, Murat Karayılan and the Executive Council of the KCK have clearly outlined what steps should be taken in order to begin a political settlement.

Not that I would expect a privileged member of the “civilized” world to think that Kurds and Turks could solve their own problems without the help of the same kind of privileged members of the “civilized” world. As Murat Karayılan stated in his interview with Hasan Cemal, in order to silence weapons, will is needed. We all know who is lacking will and it’s not the Kurdish side.

Barkey continues:

Washington is in a strong position to help because of its positive relationships with both Turkey and the Kurds. The U.S. has demonstrated its bona fides with Ankara by extending much-needed logistical support to Turkish counterinsurgency operations, and consistently backing Turkey in international forums on the PKK issue. At the same time, the U.S. is held in high regard by Kurds everywhere for its role in their liberation from Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq.

Washington does not have a “positive relationship” with the Kurds of Turkey therefore the US is not “held in high regard by Kurds everywhere”.

It’s very difficult to have a positive relationship with a people that you have helped to genocide at least since 1980. It’s impossible to have a positive relationship with a people when you’ve sided with their genociders and have sold billions of dollars worth of the very weapons that the genociders have used to murder the same people and destroy their villages and livelihoods. It’s impossible to have a positive relationship when you have characterized the defenders of the Kurdish people as “terrorists” so that you can continue to benefit from your very own bullshit Global War on Terror, Inc.

The US may be held in high regard by the Kurds of Iraq for reasons that serve their interests, but it is not held in high regard by the Kurds of Turkey.

Barkey continues:

Thus, the U.S. can help demobilize the PKK by acting as a trusted go-between. The PKK is unlikely to give up its arms to the Turkish military, but it might to American forces which, in turn, could offer iron-clad verification that both the Turkish government and public would trust. U.S. diplomats can ensure that a few PKK leaders find refuge far from the region, and reassure Ankara that the pro-American KRG will prevent anti-Turkish insurgents who stay in Iraq from engaging in any future mischief. This way many PKK insurgents can also return home to their families and Turks can begin to discuss domestic political reforms to expand the Kurds’ cultural rights without the specter of violence hanging over. Finally, the U.S. can propose the establishment of a Qualified Industrial Zone (like that of Israel and its neighbors) that would include Kurdish-inhabited southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, to promote economic activity and strengthen the ties between Turkey and the KRG. Landlocked KRG relies on Turkey for its economic linkages with the rest of the world and oil from Kurdish-controlled fields has recently begun flowing into Turkey.

It’s impossible for the US to act as a “trusted go-between” for the reasons outlined above. Let me add that it is impossible to consider the US a “trusted go-between” because, in the aftermath of DTP’s success in the 29 March local elections, the US did not condemn Turkey for its violence against the DTP. Obama made his first visit to Turkey immediately after the elections, and he mentioned nothing about the corrupt election practices that the AKP used against DTP, particularly in Ağrı. Nor was there any US protest against the violence the AKP unleashed against the Kurdish people after Obama left Turkey. There was no outrage by the US when the AKP launched a terror operation against the pro-Kurdish DTP, arresting hundreds of its politicians and political workers.

But, Turkey isn’t Iran, is it?

Barkey assumes that HPG is going to lay down its weapons and disarm itself. This has never been discussed by either KCK or DTP and is not in the works to be discussed. If Barkey actually read Hasan Cemal’s series, he would know this and perhaps not be so misleading in his WSJ piece.

Barkey assumes that the KCK leadership wants “refuge far from the region”. This idea has never crossed the lips of any leader of the KCK. It’s never crossed the lips of any leader of HPG, ever.

Barkey assumes that the economic situation is the only situation that is problematic for Kurds in Turkey. If he had followed the campaign leading up to the 29 March elections, he would have known that the AKP’s attempts to bribe the Kurdish people with material goods did not yield the results AKP was hoping for; the problem in The Southeast is not essentially an economic one.

As for Ankara’s relationship with the KRG, this is an American problem and not one for Kurds of Turkey, especially as the relationship from an American perspective appears to be concerned with the flow of oil out of Iraq, as noted in the piece. It’s also been an American obsession that the Ankara regime and the KRG get along when the fact is that both have been getting along quite well together as they have since the 1990s when they fought together against the Kurds of Turkey.

The US as mediator in solving the Kurdish situation in Turkey is absolutely, positively unacceptable. The US has no credibility whatsoever and that lack of credibility is amplified exponentially when it comes to the Kurdish situation.

After all, it was only three years ago that we had a small taste of what US mediation would be like when Joseph Ralston was appointed as “special envoy” to “coordinate the PKK for Turkey”. We know very well that the US is only interested in mediating as far as its own interests go and not a step further. The US would, in fact, be a deceptive, untrustworthy mediator.

It’s difficult to imagine that there is any country on earth that would be sufficient to negotiate between the Ankara regime and the PKK because, as we have seen with recent threats against former Danish PM Rasmussen’s appointment to head NATO. Although Denmark has stood firm for the right of Kurdish freedom of speech in that case of Roj TV and thus far, it is the exception rather than the rule. There is no country that would stand firm against all of Turkey’s threats or bribes and corruption so that it could be trusted to broker an honest deal between the Ankara regime and the PKK.

Murat Karayılan must think so, too, and that’s why he’s repreatedly expressed a desire for a group of “intellectuals” to act as mediators with the Ankara regime. It would only be just that most of the “intellectuals” involved in such a plan should be drawn from among those who will have to live with the results of their efforts. In other words, most of them will have to come from Turkey itself.

Of course, that would remove Henri Barkey from any possibility of participating in the effort since the last person needed to help solve the Kurdish situation in Turkey is an “intellectual” who penned a book about the Kurds of Turkey with the CIA’s Graham Fuller.

Oh, coincidentally, Graham Fuller not only supported Fethullah Gülen in his petition for a green card, but he also made the list of Sibel Edmonds’ State Secrets Privilege Gallery.

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