AKP Criticized for Derailing Peace Process in Turkey

11/09/2012 RUDAW By HEMIN KHOSHNAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — With the intensification of clashes between the Turkish Army and fighters of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has come under mounting criticism. The main criticism is that AKP is not ready to deal with the dramatic regional changes while struggling with the domestic problems of Turkey.

Regardless of their place on the political spectrum, many different groups in Turkey agree that the country is drifting away from peace. Political experts who previously supported the AKP government are now arguing that its recent policies have led to the current security situation. Many of the mountainous regions in Turkey’s Shemzinan region and Bayt al-Shabab are now controlled by the PKK.

In the past, Turkish writer Ali Bayramoğlu supported the AKP policy of dealing with the Kurdish issue, but last week he was critical of the government in an article published in the newspaper Yeni Safak. Bayramoğlu warned the AKP government that straying from a political solution to the Kurdish issue and intensifying security policies would lead to serious threats.

He also reminded the AKP that the field of PKK activities has expanded, especially in Syria. “If the settling the Kurdish issue in Turkey is further delayed, then the nature of events shall change as well,” Bayramoğlu wrote, calling upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to change his perspective on the Kurds by “adopting new policies domestically and internationally, and creating intelligent political institutions.”

Erol Gurbas, a lecturer at Kırıkkale University, also criticized the government’s handling of the latest situation.

“The government has no choice but to distance itself from the reactionary rhetoric of the ultra-nationalists. This problem cannot be solved by blind ideologies, but with realistic evaluations of the events,” Gurbas said.

Recent events in Turkey have motivated neutral figures into speaking out against Erdoğan as well. Sharafattin Alci, an independent Kurdish MP in Turkish Parliament, believes that the shift in governmental policies is why the country is moving away from peace. “In 2011, at the beginning of the parliamentary elections, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changed his strategy of peacefully resolving the Kurdish issue. He rearranged his strategy in accordance with nationalist voters,” said Alci. Alci believes that if the government opened its arms, they could pressure the PKK into submitting to a peaceful resolution. “In March 2011, all the Kurds agreed on four demands regarding the Kurdish issue,” Alci states, listing the recognition of the Kurdish identity, the right to education in a native language, giving more power to regional governing and allowing use of the word “Kurdish” in the name of the political parties as the demands.

He adds, “But, Erdogan’s initial reaction was to say that education in the native language would create differences among people.”According to Alci, while Erdogan intensifies military campaigns against the PKK, other states are helping the PKK because Turkey is intervening in other places, forcing other countries in the region to try to complicate Turkey’s domestic issues.

“The Turkish government is trying to revive the Ottoman Empire which was an occupier. This logic is worrying the neighbors of Turkey. That’s why they are supporting the PKK,” said Alci.

Mohammed Altan, a Turkish writer and vocal critic of the government, believes that Ankara’s policies are to blame for the recent divergence from peace.

“Ankara does not know how to read current global events. There are between 40 and 45 million Kurds in the region and, instead of attempting to give more rights to the Kurds, they are trying to suppress the different voices,” Altan said.

He described the steps taken by the AKP government to resolve the Kurdish issue in previous years as “important,” but criticized the recent change of tactic. “The peace process has been halted and the process of becoming Sunni has been initiated,” he said.

Jawad Gunes, the former deputy to the advisor of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT), tied the recent developments in Turkey to the regional developments in the Middle East.”The interests of the superpowers in the region have changed the balance. The borders in this region were designed after WWI; now the superpowers and regional powers want to change them to fit their own interests. They are manipulating the religious and ethnic differences to reach their goals,” he said. Gunes added, “Turkey needs to stay away from ethnic policies if it wants leave these events with a minimum amount of damage.”