Turkey has experienced an undeclared cease-fire since the very first days of the reconciliation process and the PKK was expected to lay down its arms and leave Turkey. Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan recently made a call parallel to these expectations in his Nevruz message delivered on March 21, 2015. He called on the PKK to gather a congress to lay down arms. However, the PKK has only withdrawn a small section of its armed forces from Turkey over the last two years. Armed PKK militants were seen in rural areas, occasionally blocking roads and continuing their propaganda in order to provoke citizens. There were many instances in which soldiers and militants faced off against each other. However, a actual clash did not occurr. While the activities of the PKK were closely monitored, taking action was avoided in order to finalize the reconciliation process and prevent it from being undermined by provocative actions.
But now this picture is changing. Recently, the Turkish Armed Forces and PKK militants clashed for the first time after a long while in Ağrı's Diyadin district. Now questions are being asked as to why such a conflict happened. The government and General Staff blame the PKK, while the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) blames the state. It has also been claimed that this conflict is part of a conspiracy organized to sabotage the reconciliation process.
Let's put aside all these statements that try to build a certain perception, and focus on the essence of the issue. The cause of the conflict stems from the PKK's inability to perceive the change that was experienced in the concept of security by the state. To be more precise, the government has updated its perspective regarding the reconciliation process. The process will not be sacrificed for public security and vice versa. The busy schedule to finalize the process will continue and all the necessary steps will be taken. However, the PKK will not be allowed to be more effective in the field by taking advantage of the reconciliation atmosphere before the general elections on June 7. In other words, a state within the state will not be allowed. No armed organization will be allowed in Turkey except the army and police.
This changed approach towards security has an important cause, specifically the Kobani incidents on Oct. 6-8, 2014, which resulted in about 50 deaths. PKK supporters filled the streets in many provinces using the defense of the Northern Syrian town of Kobani against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as the cause. Some citizens were lynched and killed. Public property was destroyed and civil vehicles and schools were set on fire. These incidents caused a serious problem of trust and trauma both to the government, which conducts the reconciliation process, and the public. As a result, the Domestic Security Reform Package was approved and enacted by Parliament. Bear in mind that the Ağrı conflict took place only a few days after this package was enacted. It must also be noted that new tensions and conflicts are highly possible as long as the PKK does not comprehend the state's new perspective on security.
The conflict is also related to the upcoming June 7 general elections. According to data conveyed to Ankara, the PKK is pressurizing citizens for votes by exploiting the positive atmosphere the reconciliation process has created, forcing citizens to vote for certain candidates. Ankara even came up with a name for it, saying that the PKK is engaging in an "armed electoral campaign."
The PKK aims to make the HDP retain its vote in eastern Turkey and enter Parliament by passing the 10 percent election threshold on June 7. For that reason, it is conducting an "armed electoral campaign." This armed pressure might increase the vote for the HDP in the eastern provinces. However, its effect on the west will be negative. This approach might disrupt the HDP plan to pass the threshold. In order to pass the 10 percent threshold, the HDP is creating a profile suggesting that they are a party of Turkey. The party needs such an image in order to attract different segments of society, and so it shows its democratic and civilian face to voters in western provinces. But the news of oppression and conflicts in eastern regions do not coincide with this image, where armed people demand votes for the HDP. Such hypocritical policies and the PKK's insistence on being present in the field without laying down arms would seemingly put the HDP, which has adopted a new image to exceed the threshold, in a difficult situation.