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måndag 25 januari 2016

Steinbach: Turkey lost peaceful resolution to Kurdish issue with flare-up of violence

Professor Udo Steinbach. (Photo: Cihan)

Steinbach: Turkey lost peaceful resolution to Kurdish issue with flare-up of violence.

Middle East specialist Professor Udo Steinbach, from Philipps University's Center of Near and Middle Eastern Studies in Marburg, Germany, said on Monday Turkey has lost the opportunity to end the Kurdish issue with peaceful means by returning to armed clashes with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Steinbach argued that the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan -- who was among the Kurdish actors negotiating a peace process with the Turkish government, which lasted until July 2015 -- lost influence over the terrorist group when violence broke out in the Southeast. According to him, the Turkish government has lost the chance to address the Kurdish issue by peaceful means after the sidelining of moderate figure Öcalan.
“I think Öcalan will not be able to assume a decisive role in solving the Kurdish issue. … A full-fledged war is taking place in the Kurdish region, which Öcalan does not have much knowledge about. … I think this war will bring eminence to new leaders. Control [of the PKK] will be taken by those who are in favor of war and struggle,” Steinbach said.
The settlement process, launched by the government at the end of 2012 in cooperation with Öcalan to settle the country's long-standing terrorism problem and the Kurdish issue, was abandoned in July 2015, when the PKK executed two police officers. Around 200 civilians have been killed in confrontations between security forces and the PKK in southeastern towns and cities since then. Curfews lasting more than a week have been imposed on several particularly tense districts in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Mardin, Şırnak and Van.

HDP may assume role in negotiations if tension subsides

Noting that the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) abandoned its peaceful rhetoric and sided with the PKK after the violence started, Steinbach argued that the HDP would adopt a conciliatory mood if conflict ceases.
In a speech at an event in late December, HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş offered support for the PKK's fight. In a veiled reference to the ongoing clashes between PKK members and security forces in cities and towns, Demirtaş said, “This resistance will end in victory.”
The HDP was among the actors of the derailed settlement process, as its delegation had actively taken part in the negotiations.
Steinbach defined the current situation in Turkey similar to the ‘80s and ‘90s, during which thousands of civilians lost their lives in clashes between security forces and the PKK.
He noted that he had doubts over the sincerity of parties in the negotiations from the very beginning. According to Steinbach, the government returned to nationalist rhetoric during the election period and abandoned a conciliatory stance on the Kurdish issue.
On the other hand, Öcalan and the HDP have lost their influence in the PKK as the violence has escalated, as the terrorist group has since come under the grip of hard-liners.
Keywords: Udo Steinbach , Turkey , Kurdish issue , PKK

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