I thought the mothers weren't supposed to cry?
For a start, the lack of transparency in the process was always a serious problem. No one ever really knew what the goal was; this includes the head of the military, party leaders, top government bodies, citizens and so on. Sitting back to watch as the PKK was taken on interlocutor, gained a mantle of legitimacy and gained power through the process -- these were all mistakes.
But the public continued to evince strong support for the peace process, despite its many mistakes and deficiencies. This was because the blood had stopped flowing and people had become optimistic that Turkey's biggest problem might really be solved. One of the most striking results of a public poll taken by Professor Hakan Yylmaz in September 2014 -- called "The Kurdish problem and the peace process" -- was the revelation of high levels of public support for the process. A full 57 percent of the public said it supported the process. And among Justice and Development (AKP) supporters, these numbers stood as high as 75 percent, while among pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) supporters, it was all the way up at 91 percent. Even one third of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Republican People's Party (CHP) voters supported the peace process.
The researchers who shared these public poll results with us forgot, however, to underscore a fairly critical point: That among the very same Kurds who had placed so much hope in the peace process, there was also the potential for great disappointment if the process was to fail, and that this could trigger great chaos in the country. And now we find ourselves right at the neck of these dangerous crossroads, in part because the HDP has successfully transcended the parliamentary threshold and thus prevented President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an's bid for an executive presidency and the PKK appears to have decided to return to violent clashes.
The real truth is, it's not as though the world first encountered ethnic-based separationist movements with Turkey. In our neighbor Bulgaria, a similar problem was solved by granting ethnic Turks rights based on citizenship. Or in Iraq, by implementing an autonomy model where Kurds are concerned. Or even in Kosovo, where independence reforms were put into place for Albanians. In the meantime, it was never clear to anyone just which path the AKP had chosen in this peace process. Perhaps those guiding the talks with Kurds here in Turkey were imagining a Bulgarian-style solution. But as for the PKK, it clung to a more Iraq-style autonomous region idea. If, as many say, there were certain promises made by Ankara in Oslo and these promises were in fact impossible to keep, then it was always inevitable that the truth would emerge and that clashes would restart.
In the meantime, the ruling party and its supporters, who only three months ago wouldn't tolerate even the slightest criticism of the peace process, calling anyone who dared speak negatively a "traitor," have suddenly embraced the insincerity and nationalistic fervor that was always present in other factions. It is this same mentality, this opportunistic bent, that has led them to bring other important topics to the top of the agenda and then abandon them when it no longer suited them to pursue them. And so we see the Kurdish peace process has been sacrificed to the same fate.
Some liberals never wanted to see this reality, but the AKP was never really concerned with peace. By carrying out talks with PKK leader Abdullah Eucalan on ymraly Island, their whole aim was really to transition Turkey into a country ruled by one man. It was clearly absurd to expect the peace process to go forward while democracy was in its death throes, journalists tossed into prison and the justice system in a state of collapse.
The election of the AKP from the start depended on courage from certain people, people not afraid to talk about the Kurdish situation, the EU process, the need to push the military back or justice reforms. But how painful it is now to see the ruling party hand in hand with Ergenekon suspects and fighting against those who actually opened the path to their rule in Ankara. One particularly painful result of this change is that the Kurdish peace process has now been completely derailed.
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