Bringing the opposition down from the mountains

When we look at the position of actors in the civil-military or Kurdish-Turkish issue, we see that there are reasons to be optimistic about a solution for the Kurdish issue, but it's difficult to believe that the solution will take effect in the near future.


There are strong reasons why we should be optimistic. First of all, the foreign conjuncture is considerably suitable for this. Perhaps for the first time, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has a very limited chance to exist in northern Iraq or in neighboring countries or to find support. The PKK is no longer a “useful” card for the “big actors” in the West, and for regional actors, it's become a source of problems.

Secondly, in domestic politics, Kurds have representatives in Parliament, and the general sentiment in the Southeast is reflected in Parliament in one way or another. Regardless of how exposed the Democratic Society Party (DTP) is to the PKK's efforts to close it down, “democratic tolerance” keeps the party in the political system.

The last and perhaps the most important reason is that harmony on the state level is offering Turkey for the first time the opportunity to actually solve the problem. The recent announcement by the National Security Council (MGK) reconfirmed that the Kurdish initiative is a state project.

Are these enough for a solution? Unfortunately, they are not.

There are two obstacles to solving the problem; one is Ankara-based the other is İmralı-based. Harmony on the state level does not mean compromise in Ankara, and it is the latter that is essential. The name of the obstacle in Ankara is the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) threshold. It is for this reason that there isn't full parliamentary support behind finding a solution. It seems Turkey will have to bring the opposition “down from the mountain” before it can bring the PKK down.

Some may wonder what the significance of CHP and MHP support is when there is compromise between the government and the military. There is a lot of significance to it. A solution formula opposed by the MHP and the CHP has a very low chance of surviving.

The second biggest obstacle to a solution is the İmralı factor. The messages PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan communicated from İmralı reveal that he will once again stymie resolving the problem. The approach he suggested envisions radical changes to Turkey's nation-state structure. For him, the solution is not linked to a rooted democratization but to the existence of two nations.

Is the İmralı factor and the CHP and MHP opposition enough to make the solution process fail? I believe it is more than enough.

When President Abdullah Gül mentioned a “historic opportunity,” many people didn't understand what he meant. The historic opportunity referred to was the first-ever growing hope in the public that the Kurdish issue could be solved and the emergence of an opportunity to overcome this problem through reasoning and a little foresight. If the current domestic and foreign conjuncture is not assessed properly, Turks and Kurds will understand the significance of the historic opportunity once they've lost it.

We have nationalists and patriots that still can't see the power Turkey will acquire in the region if it ensures social integration by solving the Kurdish issue. Most of these people are like parents who choke their kids when hugging them.

Certainly, history will remember the role played by political actors during such critical turns. We are going to see the kind of historic role the nationalist MHP and the populist CHP will play to form some kind of a coalition.


Gürkan Zengin