TURKEY : Secret deal with PKK?

PUK  MEDIA – BY LALE KEMAL : 14.9.2013 – The timing of the PKK’s statement claiming that it has stopped the withdrawal process but will respect the cease-fire and the government declaring that it will finally disclose the details of its package today indicate that a secret deal was struck between the PKK and Ankara.

According to this deal, the government would tell the public, whose support for the peace process is estimated to be around 80 percent, that it is necessary to announce a package of reforms to save the peace process from collapsing. During the peace process, there were no clashes that took place and, hence, no deaths of soldiers occurred, a development that earned the public’s support.

In other words, the deal with the PKK appears to be: In return for the terrorist group exerting pressure on the government by threatening to stop the process, Ankara will sell the public a democratization package that is expected to include rights given to the country’s Kurdish population.

At this stage we have to bear in mind, however, that any Kurdish rights that will be given as part of a broader democratization package, paradoxically, have the potential of causing a dramatic drop in popular support for the peace process. This is because Turks in general perceive the peace process as a unilateral exercise under which the PKK will lay down its arms and end its three-decade-old armed uprising in return for nothing. Turks see any democratization move that includes recognition of Kurdish rights as a concession given to the Turkish Kurdish population.

The government has so far only returned Kurds’ right to speak their mother tongue and some universities as well as schools have begun running Kurdish courses, which in reality are the natural rights of Kurds that were taken away by previous governments and the junta which staged three military coups since 1960.

At the end of the day, the Turkish government needed to feel the heat of the PKK’s pressure to accelerate its reform package, which had been delayed but is expected to be disclosed today at long last.

It is worth noting that even a limited military strike on Syria as envisioned by the US if the Russian plan does not work, carries, among other things, the serious potential of further undermining the Turkish peace process. This is because the PKK may concentrate on securing Syrian Kurds’ plan to declare autonomy in this Arab country, exploiting further complications that may occur after a limited military strike on Syria. This possibility may culminate in the PKK coming up with demands for autonomy, a proposal too early for Turkey to stomach.