As the fight continues in and around the town of Kobani near the Turkish-Syrian border, the PKK is trying to turn the battle there into a victory for itself. Western commentators sitting in their comfortable seats are blaming Turkey for not granting this to the PKK.When the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) turned to Kobani, Turkey did what no other nation did - it practically evacuated the city. By the time President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in New York for the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22, more than 130,000 Kurds from Kobani had already arrived in Turkey. Others went to other Syrian cities such as Haseke and Qamishli. As of today, Turkey hosts about 190,000 Kobani residents, a majority of whom are Kurdish. Several thousand people are estimated to have stayed in Kobani at present and the majority of them are said to be Democratic Union Party (PYD) or People's Defense Forces (HPG) fighters. Turkey's doors are open to anyone who wants to come.
Instead of thanking Turkey for accepting thousands of Kurds from Syria and saving them from the barbarity of ISIS, the PKK and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) accuses the Turkish government of "doing nothing" to help the Kurds of Kobani - a comment that was repeated in Western media outlets. On Oct. 7, the PKK and HDP called on their supporters to go out on the streets in protest. The result was a disaster. The street violence, anarchy and vandalism led by the PKK and HDP caused more than 30 deaths and millions of dollars in damages. PKK operatives burned schools, looted libraries and museums, attacked shops and police stations, set fire to city busses, Red Crescent cars and public property. But most tragically, they tortured and killed several people including the 16-year old school boy Yasin Börü, who was also Kurdish. The mayhem led to dangerous community tensions in cities such as Antep, Erzurum, Mersin and Adana where the city population is mixed. In Bingöl, the PKK attacked the police chief of the city and killed his deputy.
When the mayhem began to cool off, the PKK attacked military posts in Dağlıca in Hakkari province. This attack had nothing to do with either Kobani or the street protests that preceded it. While the PKK talked about saving Kobani, Cemil Bayik, a top commander in the PKK, said that they sent fighters to Turkey rather than to Kobani. As Hilal Kaplan rightly asks in her latest column on Daily Sabah, is Turkey expected to do nothing against this attack and provocation?
Ignoring these facts in a rather convenient way, a misleading narrative is being constructed by making false claims that Turkey is attacking Kurds rather than ISIS. Turkey responded, as it was its right and duty, to the PKK attacks on Turkish soldiers in Hakkari and will continue to defend its citizens against terrorist attacks. When the state takes measures against street violence and vandalism in Ferguson, Missouri or in London or Stuttgart, it is treated as establishing public order. When Turkey stands against much bigger attacks by internationally recognized terrorist groups, it is accused of political oppression.
The plain fact is that the PKK is using the Kobani crisis to create a new sphere of legitimacy for itself. It has gone so far as to request weapons from European countries under the pretext of protecting Kobani. PKK is also using the Kobani story to sabotage the political process, which we call the resolution process in Turkey to indicate the comprehensive nature of the peace talks that have been underway for a number of years now. Despite the major political and legal reforms that have made the lives of Kurds in Turkey much better, secure and prosperous, the PKK refuses to lay down arms.
Instead, it claims that the Turkish state is not ready to finalize the peace process. That is simply not true. Any serious analyst or reporter would recognize the progress that has been made over the last decade. The only obstacle to peace is the PKK's refusal to disarm and its periodic attacks and provocations to derail the solution process. Why? Because the PKK knows not peace, but war. It has fought for 30 years, recruited fighters, raised money, and established shadow institutions, made propaganda and so on. The only thing it has not practiced is peace. When the opportunity presents itself for peace, security and stability, the PKK feels insecure, threatened and weakened.
Despite all this, Turkey is committed to the solution process. It is in the interest of Turks and Kurds in Turkey as well as in the region. Turks and Kurds are natural allies against ISIS and other security threats in the region. More importantly, they share similar history, culture and human geography. That's why Turkey has developed comprehensive relations with Iraqi Kurds, defended the citizenship rights of Syrian Kurds long before the Syrian war began and started the solution process at home. The vast majority of Kurds want peace just as the vast majority of Turks do. No excuse should derail this process.
About the author
Presidential spokesperson for the Republic of Turkey