Tag Archives: PKK

1998 Türkiye-Suriye Krizinden Çıkarılacak Beş Ders

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

6 Eylül 2013

[For the English version, click here.]

Bugünlerde unutsak da 1998 sonbaharında Türkiye ve Suriye savaşın eşiğine gelmişti.

Ankara’nın Beşar Esat rejimine karşı gerçekleştirilmesi olası Amerikan hava saldırılarına verdiği destek, Türkiye’nin Suriye macerasının 15 yılda nasıl dönüp dolaşıp aynı yere geldiğini gözler önüne seriyor. Ancak Amerika’nın Suriye’ye saldırması daha muhtemel hale gelse bile Batılı ve Ortadoğulu müttefiklerinin Esat rejimini çabucak devirmek için her türlü olanağı kullanmaktaki isteksizlikleri Başbakan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’da ve Dışişleri Bakanı Ahmet Davutoğlu’nda hayal kırıklığı yaratmış durumda. Bu ortamda 1998 olayından ve sonrasından alınacak beş ders Türkiye’nin Suriye üzerindeki ulusal çıkarlarını korumasına yardımcı olabilir.

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Barın Kayaoğlu Virginia Üniversitesi Tarih Bölümü’nde doktora adayı ve Yale Üniversitesi’nde Uluslararası Güvenlik Çalışmaları programında misafir araştırmacıdır. Kendisini Twitter’da (@barinkayaoglu) ve Facebook’ta (BarınKayaoğlu.com) da takip edebilirsiniz.

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Five Lessons from Turkey’s 1998 Standoff With Syria

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

6 September 2013

[Yazının Türkçesi için buraya tıklayın.]

It tends to be forgotten, but in the fall of 1998 Turkey and Syria almost went to war.

Today, Ankara’s enthusiasm for possible US airstrikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad makes one realize how Turkey’s Syrian odyssey has come full circle since that fateful fall of 1998. Even as US military action against Syria is becoming more likely, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are disappointed that their Western and Middle Eastern allies are unwilling to use all means necessary to quickly topple the Assad regime. Five lessons from the 1998 episode and its aftermath could help Ankara devise policies more in tune with its national interests in Syria.

[To read the rest of the post, click here.]

Barın Kayaoğlu, a visiting fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University, is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

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Is Turkey Really Ready For Peace?

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

5 April 2013

[Yazının Türkçesi için buraya tıklayın]

What word that belongs to yesterday
Is gone, my dear, with yesterday
The time to say new things is today
Rumi

In my previous post, I had explained why I was pessimistic about Turkey despite the positive aura borne out of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s Nowruz message. In a nutshell, I argued that given Öcalan’s and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s past statements and actions praising violence, a tough path awaited Turkey.

Another reason why I’m pessimistic is because even though a majority of Turkey’s citizens want violence to end, I don’t think they’re ready to face the requirements of a resolution, a real peace.

Before going into the resolution, it’s useful to diagnose the problem.

The problem is violence itself. For 30 years, handing Kalashnikov rifles over to Kurdish kids to fight G-3-holding Turkish kids has neither improved the lot of Turkish Kurds nor eliminated the risk seccesion for Turkey. On the contrary, violence bred a vicious circle: every dead militant, soldier, policeman, or civilian alienated Turks and Kurds from each other. Every death flamed more hatred among those left behind.

As such, the first thing to do is to end violence, to put down the guns. This truthism, however, brings us to a point that PKK sympathizers will not like: it is the PKK that has to cease its activities, not the state. It is also the PKK that has to lay down its guns, not the state. After all, states throughout the world have to maintain national security and public order irrespective of whether they are dealing with militant groups or not. Thus, PKK has to go beyond its peaceful Nowruz rhetoric and actually renounce violence.

In order to persuade PKK militants to give up on violence, the Turkish state and the AKP government have a very important duty. I’m not talking about another law for “amnesty, regret, returning home,” half-hearted measures from the 1990s and early 2000s that failed to stop the bloodshed. Nor am I talking about the so-called “wise men committee” that was recently announced. What Turkey needs is a mechanism similar to South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This commission should comprise experts on conflict analysis and resolution (not just flashy names that would make the public feel good) and should be responsible with listening to the testimonies of PKK members and record their statements. More important, when feasible, the commission should find a way to bring PKK militants together with the victims of their attacks or their surviving family members. That way, the commission would give perpetrators and victims a change to apologize and forgive.

Turkey’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission would not only handle the cases of PKK militants but also government agents who committed crimes (especially those involved in extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, and torture) during operations against the militant group. Just as in the case of militants, these agents would also be encouraged to meet with their victims or their surviving kin for mutual apology and forgiveness.

I am aware that many people would find this idea of a commission unacceptable and that it would not bring back the dead. I am not naive and certainly not stupid. At the beginning of this post, I expressly pointed out the possibility that few people in Turkey would accept this idea.

But if we don’t want the 40 thousand people we’ve lost in the last 30 years to turn into 400 thousand or 4 million in the next three decades, we all need to draw lessons from our mistakes. Only if we can forgive ourselves and “the others” can real peace come to Turkey.

Are we ready to forgive ourselves? I’m not sure about that.

Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.

You can also follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

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Türkiye Gerçekten Barışa Hazır Mı?

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

5 Nisan 2013

[For the English version, click here]

Dünle beraber gitti cancağızım
Ne kadar söz varsa düne ait
Şimdi yeni şeyler söylemek lazım
Mevlana

Son yazımda PKK lideri Abdullah Öcalan’ın Nevruz mesajı sonrasında oluşan olumlu havaya rağmen neden kötümser olduğumu anlatmıştım. Yazının özeti şuydu: Öcalan’ın ve Başbakan Erdoğan’ın geçmişte şiddeti öven sözleri ve hareketleri göz önüne alındığında, Türkiye’yi tahmin edilenden çok daha zorlu bir süreç bekliyor.

Kötümser olmamın bir diğer sebebi de Türkiye’de vatandaşların çoğunun şiddetin sona ermesini istemesine rağmen çözüme – yani gerçek barışın tesisi için gerekli olanlara – hazır olmadıklarını düşünmem.

Çözümü tartışmadan önce sorunun ne olduğunu kısaca ortaya koymakta yarar var.

Sorun şiddetin kendisi. Bir grup çocuğun eline Kalaşnikov verip G-3 tutan çocuklarla çarpıştırmak son 30 yılda ne Kürtlerin koşullarını iyileştirdi, ne de Türkiye’nin bölünme riskini azalttı. Tam tersine, şiddet ortamı fasit bir daire yarattı: ölen her militan, asker, polis ve sivil, Türkleri ve Kürtleri “ötekileştirdi.” Her ölüm, geride kalanların nefretini körüklendi.

Bu yüzden ilk yapılması gereken şey şiddeti son erdirmek, silahları susturmak. Bu da bizi PKK’ya sempati duyanların hoşuna gitmeyeceği noktaya getiriyor: eylemlerini sona erdirmesi gereken taraf devlet değil, PKK. Silah bırakması gereken taraf yine devlet değil, örgüt. Zira her ülkede olduğu gibi Türkiye’de de – militan örgütler var olsa da olmasa da – devletin kolluk kuvvetleri ulusal güvenliği ve asayişi sağlamakla yükümlüler. Dolayısıyla, PKK’nın Nevruz’da söylenenlerin de ötesine geçerek şiddeti tamamen reddettiğini açıklaması gerekiyor.

Örgüt üyelerinin şiddetten vazgeçmeleri için devletin ve AKP hükümetinin üzerine düşen çok önemli bir görev var. Bu da Meclis’ten “af, pişmanlık, eve dönüş, vs.” kanunu çıkarmak ya da “akiller” grubu oluşturmak değil. Gerekli olan, Güney Afrika’da ırk ayrımı (apartheid) sona erdikten sonra kurulan Gerçek ve Uzlaşma Komisyonu (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) gibi bir mekanizmanın oluşturulması.

“Flaş” isimlerden değil, çatışma analizi ve çözümü alanlarında uzmanlaşmış kişilerden oluşacak komisyonun görevi şu çerçeve mantık içinde yürümeli: şiddet eylemlerine katılmış PKK üyelerini dinlemek ve söylediklerini kayda almak ve daha önemlisi, koşullar elverdiğinde örgüt üyelerini eylemlerinin kurbanlarıyla ve aileleriyle yüzleşmelerini sağlamak. Komisyon, bu sayede eylemcilerin kurbanlarından ve ailelerinden özür dilemelerini teşvik edecek bir “affetme-af edilme” dinamiği yaratır.

“Gerçek ve uzlaşma” komisyonu sadece örgüt militanlarının değil, PKK’yla mücadele sırasında yargısız infaz, adam kaçırma ve işkence gibi gayrikanuni eylemlere karışmış devlet görevlilerini de kapsamalı. Ve tıpkı PKK militanları gibi bu kişilerin de uygun olduğunda eylemlerinin kurbanlarıyla ve aileleriyle yüzleşmelerini sağlayarak karşılıklı bir af dileme ve affetme hali yaratılmalı.

Bu komisyon fikrinin birçok insan için kabul edilemez olduğunun ve yitirdiğimiz canları geri getirmeyeceğini gayet iyi biliyorum. Saftirik değilim, aptal hiç değil. Bu öneriyi Türkiye’de çok az insanın kabul edeceğini yazımın başında söylemiştim.

Fakat son 30 yılda yitirdiğimiz 40 bin insanın sonraki 30 yılda 400 bine veya 4 milyona çıkmasını istemiyorsak yaptığımız hatalardan hepimizin ders çıkarması gerekiyor. Ancak kendimizi ve “ötekini” affedebilirsek Türkiye’ye gerçek anlamda barış gelebilir.

Peki kendimizi affetmeye hazır mıyız? İşte bundan emin değilim.

Barın Kayaoğlu, Virginia Üniversitesi Tarih Bölümü’nde doktora adayıdır ve her türlü yoruma, soruya ve fikir alışverişine açıktır. Kendisiyle bağlantıya geçmek için buraya tıklayın.

Ayrıca kendisini Twitter’dan (@barinkayaoglu) ve Facebook’tan (BarınKayaoğlu.com) da takip edebilirsiniz.

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Nowruz and Peace in Turkey: It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Life, but I’m not Feeling Good

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

25 March 2013

[Yazının Türkçesi için buraya tıklayın]

Listening to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” may help to lift your mood because this post is probably going to worsen it.

Last Thursday, 21 March, was Now Ruz (new day), the traditional celebration in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries that marks the arrival of spring. This Now Ruz was especially important for Turkey because Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish militant group PKK, called upon his followers to lay down their arms and leave Turkey. “Silence the weapons,” declared Mr. Öcalan, “let ideas and politics speak.”

The PKK has waged a bloody conflict against Turkish security forces for almost thirty years, a war that has claimed nearly 40,000 lives. Formed partly in response to human rights violations (such as the systematic torture in Diyarbakır prison and banning the Kurdish language in public under the military regime in the early 1980s), the militant group’s original objective was to establish an independent state in southeast Turkey. More recently, the PKK and Kurdish political groups in Turkey have moderated their position to demand autonomy similar to the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.

There’s every reason to hope that tears and bloodshed might come to an end in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has responded to the PKK leader’s message with cautious optimism and called it “very positive,” a sentiment shared by many of his fellow citizens.

As Nina Simone would say, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life. But unlike Nina, I’m not feeling good.

Here’s why: having studied Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Öcalan very closely for the past 10 years, I am convinced that they are only interested in their own political well-being. Both men have said and done things that lend credence to my suspicions.

For example, when opponents criticized his government for its inability to respond to the PKK’s attacks last summer, Mr. Erdoğan cited the high number of dead PKK militants and the low number of dead Turkish soldiers to underscore the effectiveness of government forces. The real criterion for success, of course, is eliminating the conditions that give rise to violent groups like the PKK. The prime minister also blamed media outlets for reporting their reports on the attacks, which he equated with supporting “PKK propaganda.”

Moreover, since the 2007 elections, Mr. Erdoğan has overseen the largest clampdown on journalists and free speech in Turkish history. Turkey is now considered the “world’s biggest prison for journalists” and it is at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index. It’s highly questionable if Turkey’s Kurdish question could be resolved without substantial improvements to its troublesome democracy. It’s highly debatable if Mr. Erdoğan is the man for that job.

Mr. Öcalan, for his part, led the PKK with an iron fist before his capture in 1999. He demanded absolute obedience from his subordinates and eliminated those who wouldn’t budge. A sad joke relates that Mr. Öcalan doesn’t just share a taste in large moustaches with Stalin.

apo joeLooking at the bigger picture, the two leaders give me cause to be pessimistic. Given Prime Minister Erdoğan’s constant flip-flopping on virtually every issue of significance, it is not unlikely that he will ride the wave of positive sentiments until he reaches his aim to become president next year. Furthermore, with his ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious stance on virtually every issue–not to mention his dislike of liberal democracy–it is unlikely for the Turkish Prime Minister to cut a meaningful deal with the Kurds.

As for Mr. Öcalan, although he languishes in prison, he does hold a few trump cards. For one, if he isn’t released from prison as part of a deal with the Turkish government or if he is not guaranteed a wide space in politics after his release, he might call upon his followers to take up arms again. Mr. Öcalan’s deputy, Murat Karayılan, has already signaled that laying down arms and withdrawing PKK militants from southeast Turkey is not a foregone conclusion.

And if hostilities recommence in Turkey, the next round of violence will make the 40,000 dead of the past 30 years look like a rosy dream. In order to avoid that outcome, Turkey needs a “feel-good” peace.

In my next post, I will discuss the general contours of that peace.

Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.

You can also follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

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