The most important initiatives toward peace have been taken by the Turkish government over the last two years. The government and the jailed PKK leader Öcalan reached an understanding to resolve the 30-year-old conflict on an equal, democratic platform in 2013. Öcalan's letter calling on his followers to choose peace was read out by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leaders on March 21 of that year.
Unfortunately, the peace process that started immediately after the call has since encountered many risks and diverse threats. For instance, three Kurdish women, including the co-founder of the PKK, Sakine Cansız, were killed in Paris only a few days after the call, in a move threatening Öcalan for being part of the peace initiative. In another move, a transcript of the negotiations between the government and Öcalan was leaked to the press, with the aim of stirring up the public and to make the government abandon the quest for peace. But no one took a step back.
Then a few months later the Gezi events followed. There we first saw that anti-peace, ultranationalist individuals were flirting with well-known Gülenist figures who are also against the Turkish-Kurdish peace initiative as well as pro-peace liberal and leftist commentators. Together, they were trying to make the Kurds protest on the streets. The Turkish president, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said he was ready to drink hemlock poison in order to bring about peace, was suddenly denounced as a dictator and the real enemy of the Kurds. But the Kurds didn't take the bait.
Then in 2014, there were the Kobani events. Following provocations, on Oct. 6-7, 51 people, mostly Kurds, were killed by pro-PKK gangs. It was the biggest assault on the peace initiative and a test for a bigger insurgence. Yet the Kurds who took to the streets were not as many as expected. But the government and the Kurds again did not take the bait and did not abandon the peace talks. These are only a few examples. There was then the Lice and Cizre provocations among many others. However, these assaults have failed and these failures have turned these attempts into tests measuring the strength of the peace.
The peace initiative is at the heart of all developments concerning many issues from domestic politics to foreign affairs in Turkey. For the ultra-nationalists, the pro-Kemalists and Gülenists, accepting the peace means losing the war. Also for some liberal and leftist circles who appear as though they support the peace but in reality they see the Kurds as pawns in their war against Erdogan, the peace means losing the war. For Turkish and Kurdish secularists who support the peace but not a peace brought by Erdoğan or any other Muslim leader, the peace means losing the war as well.
This weekend, another step was taken toward peace in Turkey. Öcalan has called on the PKK to take a historic decision and lay down arms. Everyone was happy except those listed above. While the ultra-nationalists, the Kemalists and Gülenists have continued to accuse the government of being a traitor, the rest have implied the same for the Kurds. "Have the Kurds sold us out?" is the most common question asked by them these days.