Two years ago, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government made a move to end the 30-year-long internal conflict that claimed 50,000 lives, an initiative that was welcomed by the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
The series of peace talks, dubbed the reconciliation process, had continued smoothly until Oct. 7-8, when it was dealt a serious blow due to street protests that broke out among Kurds. A total of 40 people died after the People's Democratic Party (HDP), which is known as the legal wing of the PKK, called on its proponents to take to the streets in order to protest Turkey's policy toward Kobani. The reason for these deaths was not police intervention, but rather the clash of opposite blocs in the streets.
Now the minds of the Turkish public are preoccupied with the HDP's role in the street incidents, and in parallel, the future of the reconciliation process that is supported by 70 percent of the public.
The reconciliation process is not of crucial importance for Turkey alone; it is also of particular concern to the entirety of the Middle East, as the PKK is active not only in Turkey, but also in Iran, Syria and Iraq. The Democratic People Party (PYD), which fights against Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants in Kobani, is an affiliate of the PKK.
Therefore, who is responsible for jeopardizing the reconciliation process, which directly influences the regional security and stability? Which one of these parties, the government or the PKK, did not do their part?
The answer to this question can be found in Prime Minister Davutoğlu's statements he delivered just a few days ago, when he came together with the WiseMen Committee – formed last year as a part of facilitating the peace talks with the contribution of prominent academicians, journalists and intellectuals.
Davutoğlu's statements, which have made headlines recently, can be summarized as follows: Just a month before the Oct. 7-8 street protests took place, the government launched a concrete schedule for the reconciliation process. This schedule was taken to Öcalan through the medium of Hakan Fidan, chief of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Following Öcalan's approval, the parliamentarians from the HDP took his confirmation letter to the commanders of the PKK's armed wing and they also accepted it.
Following this series of talks, the HDP parliamentarians met Davutoğlu and conveyed to him that all factors of the organization were pleased with the government's initiative. After this, Davutoğlu asked for a promise from the political representatives of the organization for the implementation of this concrete road map. Davutoğlu's stipulation was very reasonable as it reflected the complaints of Turkish citizens living in the region. Davutoğlu wanted that the organization would not be engaged in activities such as extortion, intercepting, kidnapping and attacking security forces on the sidelines of the negotiations.
The HDP representatives accepted this stipulation, which is the minimum essentiality of the negotiation process. Moreover, they announced that they would end all illegal activities of the PKK in Turkey by Oct. 15. It goes without saying that although four days have passed since Davutoğlu›s statement, which was supported by documents, none of the addressees have refuted this and no troubles were experienced. However, when Turkey announced that it would support the U.S.-led coalition's intervention in ISIS in Syria, the PKK embarked on street protests.
As is known, the international coalition is helping the PYD fight against ISIS in Kobani. Therefore, it is a great contrast for the PKK and HDP to stop the negotiation process on the pretext that the government issued a mandate to help the international coalition.
However, this contrast is a strategy for the PKK, as it intends to remove its name from the terror list of the U.S. and EU by manipulating the war in Kobani. Therefore, in order to increase its domination in the field, it is literally exploiting the Kobani war, toward which Turkey and the rest of the world approach with sensitivity. To this end, it takes no notice of the peace process even though it is on the verge of being completed.
It is pleasing that the government announced it would maintain the process despite this indifferent attitude of the PKK. Davutoğlu says that he will insist on the continuation of peace negotiations even at the expense of losing nationalist supporters both in the AK Party's grassroots and in the opposition ranks. However, the political legitimacy that the U.S. and EU grant to the PYD and PKK through the Kobani crisis nourishes the hypocrisy of organization, which results in people's death.
Especially the U.S. should take the years-long alliance with Turkey into consideration and should balance its support for the PYD and PKK. It should not be an instrument to the PKK›s strategy, which it pursues under the cloak of humanitarian purposes. Otherwise, the U.S.›s strategy against global counterterrorism will lose its credibility and supporters in the region and the world.