Can PKK build trust?

Published 20.04.2016 23:51

Security forces' operations have depleted the PKK's ability to fight, so it is due time for the terrorist organization to sing 'Give Peace a Chance'

After digging ditches in city streets, killing hundreds of police and military officers and doing whatever it takes to trigger a "revolutionary people's war," the outlawed PKK has recently begun to refer to the reconciliation process again. What happened? Did the terrorist group remember peace all of a sudden? Does it really want to negotiate or is this part of a new tactic since the PKK has lost its power to a great extent? Can the reconciliation process be re-initiated? How will all the losses be accounted for if the process is reinvigorated?

Such questions need to be answered to make a meaningful and sensible interpretation of the PKK in the near future. First of all, it must be noted that the PKK has not made any kind of self-criticism regarding the conflicts. On the contrary, reportedly there is dissidence between the senior PKK figures Murat Karayılan and Cemil Bayık regarding the organization's fighting strategy. Allegedly, one sides with fighting in urban areas, while the other gives priority to rural areas. Apart from that, Bayık gave some bold and aggressive remarks to organization members in his radio talks. In brief, the data we have does not indicate the winds of peace blowing over the PKK front. All we hear from them is about fighting, clashing and losing. Consequently, the organization's ostensible eagerness to return to the negotiation process cannot stem from wanting to give up its violent acts or be reintegrated into Turkey. As Murat Yılmaz wrote, the calls to reinitiate the negotiations do not make any sense unless the motivations of the PKK are discussed and the PKK's decision to stop its violent activities is clearly revealed.

It is highly possible that the PKK is gesturing toward negotiating due to the fact that its urban strategy has collapsed. The PKK suffered serious losses with the intervention of security forces. Also, the people did not back the conflicts, leading the PKK to experience a major decline in its base. According to retired security specialist Abdullah Ağar, the people heading from Syria, Iraq or the mountains were leading the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), but lately the organization is calling those people back to the mountains. It is not hard to see why the group, which has been accustomed to fighting in rural areas for years, has been backed into a corner from the organized and harsh struggle of security forces in urban areas. However, one can hardly argue that the PKK's power to fight has been eaten away due to these developments. The organization's structure can quickly and effectively reorganize in the mountains, and it does not have difficulty finding new people. Also, since spring has come, which is the most convenient season for the group's activities, it can be predicted that the PKK might be preparing to gather strength in the field it is familiar with once again.

In a nutshell, a serious and grave period has passed from the peaceful atmosphere of the reconciliation process. Following the June 7 elections, the PKK ended the process, and Turkey drifted into a new whirlwind of terrorism during the days when the completion of the retreats and process of laying down arms were expected. In such a period, particularly after it was revealed that arms had been stored even in the course of the reconciliation process, re-initiating it is unlikely before the organization gives an explicit guarantee, lays down its arms and withdraws its forces completely. Negotiations do not seem possible before it becomes apparent how betrayed trusts can be rebuilt and what kind of measures can be taken to avert future conflicts. Above all, people's wounds are still fresh. Of course, this conflict atmosphere must urgently come to an end. However, to end the conflicts, the PKK needs to face its treacherous plans during the reconciliation process, make considerable self-criticism, declare a cease-fire and permanently lay down arms.

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