Trenches as PKK's political graveyards - IBRAHIM KALIN

Trenches as PKK's political graveyards

After squandering numerous opportunities to disarm and make peace, the PKK is seeking to start a new urban war in Silopi, Cizre and other cities in the southeast. It is sure to fail because it has neither the military capacity nor the popular support to sustain this new wave of violence. This is only the latest example of the colossal miscalculations that the PKK and its political outlets are making. The trenches the PKK is digging in southeastern towns and cities are becoming its own political graveyard.

The PKK's first miscalculation began with the Syrian civil war. By using the fight against DAESH as a shield, the PKK sought to create a new space of legitimacy and popularity for itself in the eyes of the Western public. Encouraged by Western media and some governments it even claimed to be the only credible force fighting DAESH. Anyone who follows the developments in Syria knows that this is only partially true and there are other opposition groups fighting DAESH. But they are not getting the kind of assistance they need to contain and eliminate DAESH cells in northern and eastern Syria. Now under Russian bombardment for weeks, they cannot even protect themselves, let alone push DAESH toward Raqqa. As the war is prolonged and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) committed what Amnesty International defined as war crimes in Tal Abyad and other areas under its military control, the PKK's hope of winning the propaganda war in Syria is waning.

The PKK is now using the war in Syria to intensify its attacks in Turkey, get new recruitments and smuggle weapons into cities in Turkey. Furthermore, the PYD's shady relations with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and brutal tactics of intimidation and forced migration against Sunni Arabs and Turkmens in northern Syria are bound to cause deep rifts in Syria. The PKK propaganda machine claims that Turkey is attacking the Kurds fighting DAESH in Syria. This is an abject lie. Turkey bombs PKK training camps in the Qandil Mountains in Northern Iraq and goes after terrorists attacking Turkish security forces and civilians inside Turkey.

The PKK's second major miscalculation stems from its dismal failure in reading domestic political developments in Turkey. Dismissing the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) electoral success in the June 7 elections, PKK cadres sought to undermine the political process that could have led to the resumption of the reconciliation process. They intensified terrorist attacks and forced civilian political figures to cover them up for them. This was all at the expense of the political legitimacy of HDP representatives. As a result, the HDP lost more than 1 million votes in the Nov. 1 elections, causing it to lose 21 seats in Parliament. The PKK is still seeking statements of glorification from its political outlets, which only further undermine their standing with the public.The third miscalculation has to do with the PKK's hopeless attempt to capitalize on the anti-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan campaign in the international media. This is a foolish strategy. It is Erdoğan who began the reconciliation process to end the armed struggle and bring peace by addressing the legitimate demands of the Kurdish citizens of the country. Among others, it was Erdoğan who gave the order to take in 190,000 residents from Kobani and allowed the Iraqi

Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) peshmerga forces and Free Syrian Army to pass through Turkey when the city came under DAESH attack in 2014. Instead of thanking Erdoğan, the PKK's political outlets sought to manipulate the battle for Kobani and incited people to street violence, which led to the death of 50 citizens, most of them Kurdish.

Faced with a real prospect of peace, the PKK resorted to the only thing it has known since 1984 - more violence, more attacks and more destruction. This is an ontological conundrum for the PKK as it would not know what to do after it disarms and accepts peace. In the two-year period of the reconciliation process, the PKK sought to expand its armed presence in cities, established alternative courts, cemeteries, tax collectors and road controls all in the name of an empty notion of self-rule and autonomy. It effectively undermined the process. Now it is trying to blame it on Erdoğan.

Surely no democratic state would allow its citizens to be intimidated, attacked and killed by a terrorist organization. Turkey is absolutely right to expect solidarity and cooperation from its allies in its fight against terrorism. The war against DAESH in which Turkey plays a critical role as a member of the international anti-DAESH coalition cannot be an excuse to justify the PKK and whitewash its crimes.

In its new urban fight, the PKK is digging trenches inside cities to attack security forces. It is doing this by using municipal facilities, which is a crime according to the law. But the trenches it has dug are becoming its own political graveyards. It is burying with them any and all political chances of moving the process forward and reaching peace.

Notwithstanding the PKK's colossal miscalculations and missed opportunities, Ankara remains committed to improving the living conditions of its Kurdish citizens in both the political and socio-economic senses of the term. It is also determined to establish public order within the rule of law for all of its citizens.

Source: Daily Sabah

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