Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Is There a Game Plan for Kurdish Conundrum?

-Published in Hurriyet Daily News on May 5th, 2009- 

-Hurriyet Daily News'te, 5 Mayis 2009 Tarihinde Yayinlanmis Makalem-

Is there a game plan for the Kurdish conundrum? And the second question mark needs to be inserted after the next statement: is there a plan at all (?) Lately, it feels like we are in the 1990s all over again. The top military brass of Turkey seems to have more to say than the civil administration officials. We, once more, hear more ‘killing’ than ‘talking’, ‘bombing’ than ‘investing’.

Why are there so many contrasting and competing policies flying around? Do we really want our Southeast to be a part of the modern Turkey that still desires to be a member of the EU? Then why is it that our gutsy government can draw a roadmap to make the relations better with Armenia, but cannot pencil in a handlist to do with its own citizens in the region? Few years ago the Prime Minister of Turkey intrepidly exclaimed Turkey needs to recognize the Kurdish reality and behave accordingly, except the same Prime Minister now impetuously thunders back to the same people to say, “love this country or leave it.” Which one is the strategy that the AKP government is yearning to pursue: start broadcasting a TV channel in the Kurdish language and spread out sudden glimmers of hope; or do the good-old populist politics to look just nice before the local elections? Otherwise, we are the same narrow-minded people that would not let the most popular Kurdish singer Rojin fancy to invite her own guests. 

Who is in charge with respect to the Kurdish conundrum in the administration? Is there a minister? Is there a wise men committee that would know the region and the pulse of the people, and guide the administration during the edgy times? Because the high officials of Kurdish origin in the administration have been in the same positions for decades and apparently they don’t know the answers.

            These questions are being asked over and over again by average Turkish citizens who are either sensible to the nerve-racking-deteriorating circumstances or originated from the region. The people who love Turkey so much but just do not figure out the whims behind many of the recent actions. The people who see Turkey as their eternal land but are sick of seeing blood everywhere.

The Kurdish people, the longest partner of this undiminished brotherhood, are puzzled. The young people of Turkey are getting killed everyday and people ask why is it that the Prime Minister can talk to the leadership of Hamas but not the ones with Democratic Turkey Party, or DTP? As days go by, the mothers of these young soldiers are filled with an eternal sorrow and become disaffected with the Turkish Government forever which hasn’t able to protect their son. And this disenchantment certainly doesn’t work in favor of Turkey, but for PKK, a terror organization. How it is possible that we do not use everything in our disposal to put a stop on the grief of those heartrending mothers?

            Recently it seems that the government’s best idea to stop this bloodshed is to raid DTP’s offices. One wonders what is it there that we just discovered now that we already didn’t know. Or if there is a sudden feel of urgency to itch the wound, so the solution we seem to resort, once more, like never, with a new fortitude while expecting different results, is to arrest, force and shell more.

            On the other hand, AKP seems to spend those very few so precious political capitals in Europe to stop some Kurdish TV channels from broadcasting. How can we not see that these TV stations are just flies! What needs to be done is to instigate course-changing policies to dry up the swamp. And to do that, we first need to recognize that the swamp is in our borders, probably somewhere in Ankara that produces all of those hollow policies and gravitates the good wills. Turkey with its newly discovered regional inspirations, tries to meddle through about every conflict in the region. Though the only discord that it cannot generate solutions to is in its own borders. Our politicians seem to try to rediscover America, although if actually they study America’s recent history, they would come across many useful lessons for our problems.

            Once more: what is the grand strategy in the Kurdish question?  What is it that we want to accomplish? The situation has become very thin-skinned now after decades of mistaken and miscalculated policies. Poverty continues to be a real problem in the region, as we know, for example, half of the villages of Diyarbakir, supposedly the most advanced amongst the region’s cities, are still yearning for electricity!

            The latest developments with the judicial investigation into an ultranationalist group known as Ergenekon made Turkish democracy stronger than ever. Though in today’s world, different formats of democracy are everywhere from Iran to Venezuela, Russia to Egypt. Therefore the debate should be: What kind of a democracy do we wish to have, as opposed to the having one. Or, is the Turkish democratic escapade going forward to catch up with the liberal Western peers, or going backward to low-level like the above countries which also hold elections regularly? Nevertheless having democratic systems doesn’t do much good for people of those countries as they continue to live with the majority oppressed and a one-man style of democracy because the social structures are not ready to balance the populist power that comes with moderately free elections. 

Today, in the wake of a new constitution debate, a constitutional liberalism with expanded cultural and human rights, expression that is free from any illiberal forces, fully accountable and transparent government and other basic principles of liberal democracy are urgently needed in the discussions, as I strongly believe many of today’s problems can be worked through in such an atmosphere. 

            Recent shuffling of the ministers’ cabinet, and bringing in more conservative profiles into the administration, unfortunately doesn’t seem to draw a hopeful picture for a liberal democracy in Turkey. Another way to tell the story is to underscore that today’s people are very easy. People want to laugh, love, travel and have a quality of life. Shelling and fighting do not work anymore. The alternatives are simple. And the consequences are as well. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! You summed it all up so neatly. Too bad the politicians in Ankara will probably never see this article.
They have their own agenda, but the problem is that it does not seem to be logical.
Turkey is a fabulous country with many wonderful people. Too many times the biggest enemies of the turkish people are the turks.