Kurdish War: Negotiating The End Of The PKK


August 31, 2009: This month militant PKK supporters “celebrated” the 25th anniversary of the “new war for liberation” against Turkey. The biggest event occurred on August 15 in the town of Eruh, where PKK fighters assaulted a Turkish military facility in 1984 and killed a soldier. Despite the militants protest, the Turkish government is pushing its reconciliation program for Turkish Kurds. The government issued a statement touting Kurdish-language television broadcasts which began in January 2009. The lingering problem of how to get some 2,000 PKK fighters based in Iraq to leave the mountains and join the peace process has not been solved. PKK commanders want amnesty for themselves and the government is not ready to do that.

August 25, 2009: The Turkish military issued a statement that said it was against any political contact with PKK leaders. The Turkish government is seeking a national consensus on how to resolve politically Kurdish grievances. The military sees the PKK leaders as terrorists. So far the national government rejects including PKK leaders in what it calls its “Kurdish initiative.” It is likely the Turkish government will stress social and economic issues.

August 21, 2009: The Turkish government said that it wants to get support from its domestic political opponents for a program to pursue some kind of “negotiated settlement” with Kurdish rebels in south-eastern Turkey. The government statement was a bit opaque. The government says it is developing a new “peace roadmap” (also called the “Kurdish initiative” or “reform initiative”) for ending the insurgency. Many of the political elements are already evident. For the last several years the ruling AKP has campaigned actively for Kurdish votes. The government has also begun a “rural electrification program” in the southeast that many Kurds is long overdue. Specifics on what will be negotiated, however, are scarce. The government wants to cover its right flank by getting a “national position” on negotiations. The government has long argued that compromising with the PKK is not in Turkey's national interest. The biggest objection was a separate Kurd state carved from southeastern Turkey. Pressure for the European Union has played a role in Turkey's new policies, but since late 2007 a number of military officers have said that military force alone will not defeat the insurgency. Several senior military analysts began arguing that “psychological elements” needed more emphasis in Turkey's approach to the PKK. At one level that meant portraying the PKK as a narcotics traffickers (another “drug army”). However, it also meant considering political options.

August 20, 2009: Turkey continues to let towns in southeastern Turkey restore their Kurdish names. The government says this is part of a political outreach program to Turkish Kurds. For example, the town of Kirkpinar will likely be renamed Celkaniya.


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