If the peace train derails… - ALI BAYRAMOĞLU

If the peace train derails…

I have absolute belief that in a historical sense the “journey of peace” will not end.

Having said this, the possibility always exists that the train might slow down, experience jolts, or come to a temporary standstill.

Question marks form in everyone’s minds in the wake of what was experienced in Bingöl, the murders in Hakkari, the brutal killing of a village guard and the incidents between PKK-Turkish Hizbullah (each side holds the other responsible) that left 24 people dead.

Global examples show that the clashes that follow a breakdown of peace talks are always more violent and severe than before. Over here the incidents of Oct. 6-7 provided pointers that violence might envelop cities and towns through different channels.

Cities are open-ended spaces. They provide the arena for the intermingling of activities carried out by the organization [PKK], freelance radicals on the fringes of the organization, some dormant deep structures, and third parties looking to benefit from any clashes.

Does this not come to mind even after the ambiguity surrounding the events in Hakkari and Bingöl?

We know that security measures alone cannot be effective in preventing such a climate from being created. Stringent security measures, on the other hand, will cripple daily life.

That means the issue is to constrict the area where such a climate exists through a “smart politics approach.”

On paper the formula is simple: The only way for the peace train to regain momentum, and the existing gap between the parties to be reduced, is to get rid of the contradictions within the reconciliation process.

The difficulty lies in implementing this formula. The bottleneck that has arisen at this stage in proceedings is structural.

The transformation of elements outside the national borders, like Rojava, into a part of Turkey’s Kurdish problem; the approach adopted by the Kurdish side regarding negotiations and autonomy during contacts between the state and İmralı (the prison island where Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence); and the Turkish approach toward disarmament and integration, have all begun to “jostle” with each other and created “a critical moment.”

The organization perceives the approach of the state as a policy of eradication. The state continues to consider as a red line the organization’s expectation for autonomy and its attempts to build a parallel political center, whose activities range from a judiciary to a registry of deeds.

How can this bottleneck be cleared?

The answer is clear: By the taking of correct steps in the other direction by both sides…

Turkey’s policy on Syria is correct. What is wrong is the evaluating of Kobane and Rojava just within that policy and underestimating the impact of those two factors on the reconciliation process.

Within this framework, the first step that the state undoubtedly needs to take is to develop a strategy that will more embracing toward Rojava and allow for a different kind of communication with the PYD. (Democratic Union Party, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK)

The second step is its definition of citizenship. Rather than deal with some fundamental issues while implementing democratic measures by using local administrations as a booster shot for example, it should hold bilateral discussions with them while implementing these democratic measures and open a door for negotiations and increase the maneuvering space for Öcalan within this framework.

These steps are not difficult to implement alongside the steps that have already been taken.

The Kurdish political movement has two serious problems. The first emerges due to its internal disorganization. This movement often transfers its internal politics and balances to the reconciliation process and to its Kurdish policies.

Just like it was witnessed in recent times with the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and Selahattin Demirtaş in particular. This can result in being excluded from “legitimate politics” and can become a common occurrence. It can also result in the differentiation of the roles of İmralı and Qandil (the PKK’s mountain base in northern Iraq) and the exchange of messages through political moves…

The second problem is the bringing into play by the Kurdish movement at this stage of the “resorting to violence theme,” particularly in the wake of its reaching the “stage where it can exercise control over its field” that it attained through the reconciliation process.

This will result in the Kurdish movement being damaged and losing under all circumstances. Just the coming into play of the Turkish Hizbullah factor, and the dynamics of the Middle East, along with the possibility of the return of the military to the scene in itself could leave the movement in ruins.

The first action this movement needs to take is to put an end to employing the tactics of using violence as a tool and the issuing of challenges relying on the threat of violence.

The second action it needs to take is to adopt a legitimate stance when it comes to public order and supervision of its area.

The seeking of autonomy from the state but bargaining over the search for unity and attempting to set up an alternative public order are not steps that can be taken together…

For the Kurds, taking these actions is not difficult at all…

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