PKK: Enemy of post-coup unity in Turkey

THE EDITORIAL BOARD
ISTANBUL
Published 26.08.2016 22:56
Updated 27.08.2016 00:40

Earlier this week, PKK terrorists made headlines in Turkey by perpetrating two high-profile attacks within 24 hours. On Thursday, the motorcade of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu came under attack near the Georgian border. The Republican chairman survived the assassination attempt, but the assailants claimed one casualty. The next morning, a vehicle loaded with several tons of explosives was detonated at a police checkpoint in Cizre killing at least 11 police officers and leaving close to 50 people injured. The PKK's decision to step up their terror campaign following the July 15 coup attempt indicates that the terrorists do not like the newfound spirit of unity in Turkey - which is why we need more of it.

When Turkey's major political parties unequivocally condemned the coup attempt and voiced support for measures taken by the government to bring those responsible to justice, many observers argued that polarization would come back as soon as the initial shock wore off.

Days later, the same people argued that the leaders would not accept President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's invitation to exchange views at the Presidential Palace. Again, they were wrong.

On Aug. 7, the critics were proven wrong yet again as the president posed for photographs with the prime minister, main opposition leaders and the speaker of Parliament at the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, the largest demonstration in the nation's history.

It appeared that everybody welcomed the atmosphere of dialogue in the Turkish capital. But not everybody was so welcoming. The terrorists are deeply unhappy with the newfound spirit of unity and solidarity among Turkey's political leaders and resorted to a series of violent attacks in an effort to destroy it. The assassination attempt against Kılıçdaroğlu, who has played a notably constructive and reconciliatory role in recent weeks, attests to this fact.

More important, though, was that the post-coup unity proved resilient enough to survive an extremely traumatizing event. Minutes after the attack, the president, prime minister and the main opposition leader reiterated their commitment to reconciliation, meaning that the country's previously polarized politics are changing for good. Others issued statements to condemn the assassination attempt.

It is important to note that the July 15 coup attempt marked a turning point in Turkish politics. Once deeply polarized, the nation's politics has proven capable of resisting extra-parliamentary efforts by domestic and international stakeholders to undermine Turkish democracy.

Moving forward, all political parties must take the necessary steps to ensure that the post-coup unity can become institutionalized. The CHP, in particular, should part ways with lawmakers who have tried to justify attacks by the PKK, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and other terrorist organizations in the past to make a fresh start.

Turkey has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address long-standing problems and make room for future progress. The fact that the terrorists are really pissed off alone shows how crucial this period is.

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