The HDP's renewed audacity

Published 08.07.2019 01:10

The Istanbul rerun election fueled new developments in Turkish politics. There is an ongoing discussion on a range of issues including the presidential system and the prospect of new political parties. The newfound "self-confidence" of Kurdish nationalists deserves particular attention in this context. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) takes credit for the Republican People's Party's (CHP) success in the March 31 and June 23 elections. As a matter of fact, it dates its influence back to the June 2018 elections.

An HDP parliamentarian's verbal attack on a deputy from the Good Party (İP) in Turkish Parliament reflected this "self-confidence," "People, including supporters of HDP and PKK, voted for the alliance, of which you are part, despite you. You occupy your seats today thanks to the HDP's votes. Your alliance with the CHP owes itself to the HDP's votes."

Those words revealed the cooperation between the Nation Alliance and HDP. This did not come as a surprise. It was merely a statement of the obvious.

More notable was the Good Party's lack of response to the HDP parliamentarian's verbal abuse. They were at a loss for words to save themselves from the HDP's critique. At the same time, the HDP felt absolved of its marginalization and had the courage to lecture the Nation Alliance on democracy. CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Good Party Chairwoman Meral Akşener, who engaged in political engineering ahead of the local elections, bear responsibility for what happened. Likewise, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who says that he does not understand why Selahattin Demirtaş is behind bars, deserves credit.

Another sign of the HDP and PKK's newfound audacity was the publication of an opinion essay by PKK commander Cemil Bayık in The Washington Post. Without a doubt, it was scandalous that one of the PKK's five founders, upon whose head the United States has a bounty, could find space to express his views in the U.S. media.

The Americans told world leaders that they were either with them or against them when it came to their counterterrorism campaign. With their interests at stake, they quickly forgot that principle. The opinion essay's content, too, was a disaster.

The PKK leader blamed the Republic of Turkey for the group's terror attacks. He made the case that PKK was compelled to engage in an armed struggle, and called for a new definition of nation, autonomy and a new peace process in the name of "democracy." According to Bayık, the PKK's mistake was to trust the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and to not work harder to include all of Turkey's democratic forces in the peace process back in 2013. He clearly referred to the CHP and the İP, whom the PKK supported in the local elections, as "democratic forces."

The HDP parliamentarian's remarks and the PKK commander's opinion essay indicate that Kurdish nationalists will grow bolder in the future. Meanwhile, Turkey has not yet reached an agreement with the United States over the latter's withdrawal from Syria and the proposed safe zone east of the Euphrates River. Washington refuses to turn its back on the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK's Syrian affiliate, as the HDP and PKK/YPG seek to create new momentum in Turkey and abroad.

On the basis of the Turkish opposition's verbal abuse, there is a clear attempt to impose a new peace process on Turkey.

The PKK has no intention of laying down its arms. In northern Syria, it wants to establish a statelet under Washington's protection and attain autonomy in southeastern Turkey.

The AK Party oversaw the recognition of the democratic rights of Turkey's Kurds. The idea of autonomy, however, is unacceptable. The Spanish case demonstrated that autonomy only serves to fuel separatist nationalism. Let us see how the CHP and the İP respond to the coming wave.

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