The Kurdish problem of the ruling party

12.11.2014 Habertürk
Translated by: Turgay BAYINDIR /
Orjinal Metin (tr-11/7/2014)

We first learned from our Ankara colleague Ömer Şahin’s article “Kurdish complaints in AK Party” that the Kurdish question left its stamp on AKP’s camp in Afyon. Şahin wrote that during the session on the subject, 26 representatives took the floor to verbalize their criticisms and concerns. For example, according to Şahin, Şırnak representative Mehmet Emin Dindar, whose brother was killed in an armed attack complained, “Even I don’t have security of life, what can the average citizen do? My brother was martyred and our home was assaulted with firearms. Who is going to guarantee my safety? I don’t feel secure even going from my home to the airport.” Also, Şanlıurfa representative Seyit Eyüpoğlu, complaining that the government is not sufficiently tackling the PKK, said, “I have had to fight for years, I know very well. The only thing they will understand is force.”

Later, Abdülkadir Selvi in Yeni Şafak also addressed this in his article “What AK Party representatives asked the most” and summarized the complaints of the representatives as follows: “Representatives from the region predominantly of the opinion that ‘the resolution process should continue but security of life and public order have to be established in the region. The gap created by the resolution process is being filled by the PKK; it is becoming the main authority in the cities. The resolution process should not mean the authority in the cities is the PKK’.”

Kurd is Kurd’s worst enemy

All of these show us that the ruling party has an internal Kurdish problem. Since AKP is a mass party, this should be seen as normal, for example, AKP even houses people who lean towards Turkish nationalism. However, the fact that the heavy majority of the criticism came from representatives from the region is an unusual situation. As a matter of fact, even this is not very surprising because, let’s remember, prior to the 2011 general elections, almost none of the AKP representatives from southeastern Turkey were chosen to run for reelection, especially such names as İhsan Arslan, Abdurrahman Kurt, Mehmet Emin Ekmen, and Mir Dengir Fırat, who are known for putting emphasis on their Kurdish identity. And the new names who replaced them, with the possibly exception of Galip Ensarioğlu and Mehmet Metiner, it did not look like there was anyone who would hold their ground against the then BDP (now HDP) representatives on the Kurdish question. It appears that not nominating any strong candidates from his party who could compete with BDP/HDP representatives in making a claim to the issue of the Kurdish question was a conscious decision by Erdoğan. However, the intervening time has shown that it was a bad policy because:
1.  The resolution process, which has been going on with its ups and downs, led to the abandoning of the former government policy, which can be summarized as “denial-rejection-assimilation”. This, in turn, opened up the possibility for Kurds to make a claim to Kurdishness. The Kurds within AKP have struggled to keep up with this transformation.
2.  It is obvious that direct targeting of the Kurds by IS(IS) in Iraq and Syria has accelerated the “identity construction” of Kurdish people and this has made the situation even more difficult for the Kurds within AKP.
3.  Whenever the government complains about the PKK and HDP they bring forward the option of “taking the process directly to the people”. However, at this point, it does not look quite possible for AKP organizing bodies and decision makers (particularly the representatives) to tell Kurdish people, “Turn your backs on the PKK and let us resolve this issue among ourselves.”

All in all, if the AKP government wants to continue with the resolution process, which has recently been in troubled waters, (which I believe they do), they need to first clear the way for the Kurds within the party and allow them to take a more active role in the resolution process.




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