We see that the government has taken steps such as giving Kurds the right to an elective mother tongue-based education and the right to defense in Kurdish in addition to forming the Wisemen Commission and giving legal protection to the reconciliation process within the time period between Nevruz 2013 and Nevruz 2015. We also see that the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has come to defend disarmament by going one step further than foregrounding the removal of the PKK's armed forces from Turkey and promoting unarmed struggle.
As for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), it has come to act in unison with Turkish leftist, liberal circles and has even entrusted its election campaigns to such circles by pushing Kurdish identity into the background over these past two years. In the new environment of freedom in Turkey, many parties have been established in the region, and talk about a Kurdistan, a federal structure and even about separatism as seen in the case of Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK). The HDP, however, aims to become a party of Turkey and forms its discourse accordingly.
Despite being the most unrelenting opponent of the reconciliation process in the beginning, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) still expresses objections to talks with Öcalan and argues that the problem should be resolved in Parliament. However, it has not contributed members to the Reconciliation Process Commission established in Parliament, and has left the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the HDP alone, although it is true that it does not explicitly oppose the process, unlike the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Considering to this picture, it can be said that the only actor that is making no headway is the PKK leadership in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq. Both literally and figuratively speaking, they have made no progress since they are still within the borders of Turkey and they still abstain from announcing that it is meaningless and useless to continue armed struggle against the Turkish Republic.
However, currently, the greatest enemy of Kurds does not come from within the borders of Turkey, but rather from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which has marched into Mosul and attempted to against Irbil in Iraq and Kobani in Syria, achieving relative success. The PKK does not want to lose its "Turkey card" in order to use it when necessary, and to this end, it sends Kurdish youngsters who have never used weapons in their lives to fight in Iraq and Syria while keeping its experienced militants who have years-long field know-how in Turkey. While hundreds of Kurds are killed and tens of thousands of them take refuge in Turkey, the PKK leadership in the Qandil Mountains continues to release messages that threaten the reconciliation process. Even viewed from a purely pragmatic perspective, it can be seen that the PKK leadership's withdrawal from Turkey would yield positive results. This is because within the nearly 40 years that have passed since its establishment, for the first time the PKK is approaching the possibility of being removed from the list of terrorist organizations by EU countries and the U.S. The fight that is being waged against ISIS has brought it to this point. However, continuing terrorist activities in a NATO member country might obstruct the chance that the PKK has seized at this juncture. Turkey has terminated assimilation policies, given Kurds the right to defense in Kurdish, legalized the reconciliation process and began graduating Kurdish-language teachers. Moreover, HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, in the hope of passing the election threshold, ran as a presidential candidate and his party governs 100 municipalities in addition to having 35 deputies in Parliament. Bearing all this in mind, it is difficult for the HDP to explain its motive for fighting against a country where it maintains its political existence while ISIS is still there. Considering all this, it would not be surprising if all PKK forces are withdrawn to Iraq and Syria this spring.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.