In the 1990s Turkey struggled against the separatist PKK militants but did not get far because at the time the country was being steered by the Turkish military, which was knee deep in politics. The PKK capitalized on the resentment of the Kurdish citizens living in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, who felt they were not being treated as first class citizens in the country. In fact they weren't.
In 2007, military involvement in politics came to an end and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was backed with its original mission; to protect the country from its enemies. The elected government supported by Parliament became the supreme power in Turkey thus starting a process that would make amends with the Kurds of the country.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then prime minister and now the president, spearheaded the campaign to make Kurds feel they were first class citizens again. Emergency Law, the civilian version of martial law was lifted, the government lifted all restrictions on people speaking Kurdish around the country, the state launched massive projects all over eastern and southeastern Turkey building roads, schools, hospitals and airports even in the most remote areas and state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) started a TV channel in Kurdish. Kurdish businessmen were given lucrative projects throughout the country. PKK deserters were sent back to their villages without having to go to jail, Kurdish activists were allowed to operate freely and last but not least even the Turkish people voted in the June 7 elections to help the Kurdish nationalist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) pass the 10 percent threshold giving it 13 percent of the votes and allowing it to enter Parliament with 80 seats.
Erdoğan launched a peace and reconciliation process with the Kurds of Turkey and thus extended an olive branch to the terrorists. Unfortunately Erdoğan and his men were sincere in the reconciliation process yet today it is clear that the PKK militant leaders were not. They pretended to go along with the reconciliation process while using the peaceful atmosphere to strengthen their militant organizations within Turkey, stash arms and explosives all over the eastern and southeastern regions and prepare for a general separatist campaign, which they launched on July 22 by murdering two policemen. Since then dozens of policemen and soldiers have been killed in bomb attacks and ambushes. The PKK has also started to kill civilians.
The PKK is terrorizing the locals in the eastern and southeastern provinces forcing them to submit to their will with the aim of creating its own separatist entity in the region. It has no intention of allowing the Kurds of Turkey to live under the Turkish flag. It has no intention of following the peace process and it does not want reconciliation with the Turkish masses. It does not want the Kurds of Turkey to have religious sensitivities.
The PKK has put the Kurdish political movement on the spot. There are elements within the HDP who are closely affiliated with the PKK and are still towing the PKK line. However, there is also a silent group in the HDP who resent the PKK and want the Kurds to feel they are first class citizens of Turkey but also want the Turkish state to change the laws and turn the country into a more democratic place to live in. They do not want separation; they want to be citizens of the Turkish Republic. That also goes for the silent masses in eastern and southeastern Anatolia.
The PKK has used the HDP for its own aims and does not have to live with it. Now the Kurdish political movement has to chart a new course that will require major preferences. Can they really do without the separatist PKK?