Why Erdogan Cannot Deliver What Turkey’s Kurds Demand

By Yavuz Baydar – CIHAN –  2014-02-17 – (…). Completing its 12-year long cycle, the AKP under Erdogan has run out of steam. With the headscarf issue normalized, he has nothing more to deliver to the silent Sunnite segments than infrastructure projects — a road here, a metro station there and a bridge elsewhere. His is a vision stripped of democratic notions. That is why he is also busy telling horror tales to crowds.

Because the remaining large items on the agenda do look far too arduous for Erdogan, who since 2011 simply has played the ball in the centerfield, attempting to score goals only when that would serve him personally as captain of the team, and the rest of the time resorting to a defense strategy, marked by throwing the ball to the sides, encouraging one foul after the other, cheered by the paid observers and, as of late, harassing the team of referees who, if possible, he would prefer to get thrown out. But he probably senses that he no longer has much confidence left among those who had watched him with admiration and anticipation. He is now left with fewer, but less qualified, less credible supporters, whose arguments keep running out of content as time goes by. One remaining issue, something both Erdogan and his fans use in order to depict him as an indispensable prime minister, is the 14-month-long Kurdish peace process. The bad things that happened to Erdogan during 2013, they argue, also had to with it. Dark forces — this team of bogeymen — are all to block this, thus the attempts for “global assassination” of Erdogan’s policies. This implies that if Erdogan goes, chaos awaits Turkey. This is a classic pattern of autocratic leaders to stay in power as long as possible.

But, the fact is, all the excitement over the process as of a year ago is gone. The overall perception is Erdogan, not having been able to break apart the solid unity around the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) among Kurds, resorted to tactics to use jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, whose “liberty” is 90 percent of what the Kurdish political movement’s support for the peace process is all about, as “bait.”

But Öcalan is far more intelligent than his own supporters; he has demanded large-scale reform and a solution in synch with a new constitution. Without it, he sees a grand resistance among other segments of society.

Öcalan read easily into Erdogan’s scheme: He knew the AKP leader would use the process to delay a settlement. He also knew when the AKP pulled out of the constitution commission in Dec. 18 and its work suspended indefinitely, the Kurdish peace process was also in deep trouble.

So, if Erdogan’s story is losing the confidence of one social group — or international leader — after the other, next are the Kurds of Turkey.

The latest “democratization package” is therefore being mocked by the deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Instead of this, Erdogan should have lowered the election threshold, changed the political parties law, returned the Kurdish names to cities and towns and collaborated for a civilian constitution, said Altan Tan, a BDP deputy. “The process is on the verge of a rupture,” declared Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the BDP.

Öcalan, calling the package “a provocation,” demands a clear roadmap and negotiations with delegations. Erdogan, under pressure, is reported to have asked the PKK/BDP to “hold” until after the presidential elections, so that he can deliver.

But the question is whether the Kurds have any reason to believe him any longer at all, while the other social groups do not.

Mess all around is the right description. http://en.cihan.com.tr