Why Turkey Should Woo the PKK and Syria’s Kurds

Turkey knows that the PKK is in Istanbul, Ankara and all Kurdish cities in the southeast of the country. It knows that the PKK is in the heart of the Turkish Parliament and that this party’s fighters, cadres and political and cultural institutions are all over the Turkish mountains, villages, cities and prisons. Moreover, Turkey knows that the PKK fighters are located on the eastern (Iranian Kurdistan) and southeastern borders (Iraqi Kurdistan). If Turkey is afraid of the “terrorists” risk, then it must declare war on three neighboring countries. It also has to further engage in war against the Kurds of Turkey in the Kurdish and Turkish mountains and cities.

The Turkish arguments and justifications that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is advancing regarding the possibility of invading Syrian-Kurdish cities on account of PKK-affiliated “fighters” are meaningless. In fact, even when the Adana Treaty on security was mostly respected, and when the alliance between Erdogan and Assad against the PKK was at its best, Damascus, Ankara and Tehran were unable to extract the PKK from the Kurdish community — neither in Syria, Turkey nor Iran.

On the other side, the performance of the Kurdish-Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is pro-PKK, has reached (by posting photos of Ocalan and raising PKK flags in the Kurdish-Syrian areas, and through efforts to impose its hegemony on the society by force) a disturbing, unfortunate and irresponsible level of party dogma that has obviously provoked the Turks.
However, the Turkish threats are still met with unprecedented Kurdish-Syrian condemnation and denouncement.
Should Turkey carry out its threats against the PKK in Syria, and should the PKK keep provoking Turkey in Syria, a new hell will await the Kurdish areas, one that is added to the hell that Kurdish-Turkish cities have been experiencing for three decades of bloody conflict.
On the other hand, Turkey will have achieved the Syrian regime’s goal by sparking conflict between the Kurds and the Turks. The Syrian regime’s evacuation of some centers and security headquarters in some Kurdish-Syrian cities, and the fact that these centers are now run by Ocalan’s Kurdish Party and some other Kurdish parties is a step that was intended to provoke the Turks and incite them to invade the Kurdish areas so that the Assad regime hits two enemies (the Kurds and the Turks) with one stone.
Therefore, Turkey must beware falling into the trap of the Assad regime, a trap erected in the north of Syria. Syrian Kurdistan is different from Iraqi Kurdistan. In other words, the Turkish army cannot enter it and leave it whenever and however it wishes.

The Turkish regime knows nothing about the psychology of Syria’s Kurds. If the Erdogan government commits this folly, then it will put Turkey in Syria’s Kurdistan tunnel, which would swallow up Turkey. In fact, 5,000 of Syria’s Kurds have been martyred in defense of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, and twice as many have fallen prey to disability. Add to this that there are about 3,000 Syrian-Kurdish fighters in the PKK and that the most prominent military leaders in this party are Syrian Kurds.

By considering the invasion of Syria’s Kurdistan, Turks are targeting themselves and Turkey. Such an invasion will have bad results and consequences for Turkey. To say the least, it will give Turkey back an occupation force, and Turkey will be similar to Israel, which occupied southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights under the same Turkish pretext: Protect its border from “terrorists.”

This invasion will unite the world’s Kurds against Turkey for longer than when they were united during the abduction and the arrest of Ocalan in 1999, longer than the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in February 2008.

Moreover, Turkey will be occupying two neighboring countries (north Syria and north Cyprus), and the entire regional and international reputation gained by the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party during the last ten years will fall. Add to this that with the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, the “zero problems” theory adopted by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will also fall.

If Turkey invades Kurdish-Syrian cities, Ankara will have turned those who criticize the PKK the most and who are the most disgruntled into its most powerful advocates. It will have offered the PKK a golden service which would allow it to turn the tables on the Turkish government, both within and outside Turkey, whenever it wants.

Ankara should actively seek to gain the Kurds. If the Kurdish issue is resolved in Turkey, and the secret negotiations between Ankara and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan succeed, as described in the Turkish media, the PKK will engage in Turkish politics, projects and ambitions, and fears of a “secret alliance” between the PKK and the Syrian regime will disappear. Thus, Turkey will win over Syria’s Sunnis and Kurds.

Turkish strategy planners should pay attention to these ideas, and be extremely cautious about being drawn into the follies of invading Kurdish-Syrian cities, and about having the Kurds, everywhere, on Turkey’s bad side.