The Guardian reports: In the past two years, [Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan has attracted much international condemnation for his increasingly erratic and personalised authoritarianism. The exception has been the seeming promise of sealing a historic peace pact with the PKK and its jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan. That prospect now appears to hinge on Kobani and on how Erdoğan chooses to react.
“It is wrong to say that the peace process is over,” said Vahap Coskun, an assistant professor at Dicle University, in Diyarbakir. “But one must understand that it is now at its most vulnerable, the most endangered it has ever been.”
Others are less lenient. The PKK harshly criticised Ankara’s stance on the Isis siege last month and warned that the government had violated the terms of an 18-month mutually observed ceasefire. The PKK’s statement said that because of the Justice and Development party’s “war against [Kurdish] people,” the PKK leadership would “step up its struggle in every area and by all possible means”.
“Does Ankara truly believe it can keep on negotiating with the PKK as if nothing has happened in Kobani?” Joost Lagendijk, a former Dutch MEP and expert on Turkey, said this week. “The pictures of the Turkish army as a spectator and bystander, doing nothing while Kurds are being killed in front of their eyes, has created a worldwide perception of Turkey as a cynical and calculating player.”
Demir Çelik, MP for the Kurdish People’s Democracy party (HDP) in Mus province, has accused the government of fraudulent double-dealing. “We have been very patient for a long time, but the government in Ankara did very little. They raised our hopes, but never fulfilled them.”
In Çelik’s home province on Tuesday evening, Hakan Buksur, 25, was reportedly shot by the police during anti-Isis protests. Kurdish protesters then torched several government buildings. Ankara imposed a curfew on Mus and five other cities, including Diyarbakir.
“This state of emergency will not produce a solution,” said Çelik. “It did not work in the past and it will not work now.”
The key request of the Kurdish fighters in Kobani is that arms, equipment, and PKK reinforcements be allowed across the Turkish border to help relieve the plight of the encircled town.
But the Kurdish fighters of the PYG are a satellite of the PKK and Erdoğan shows no inclination to arm guerrillas whom the Turks have been fighting for 30 years.
The outcome is a collapse in Kurds’ trust of Erdoğan and his ruling AK (the Justice and Development party), which has been mirrored in recent days in intra-Kurdish clashes recalling the dark times of the 1990s.
The violence in Diyarbakir was notable for the fighting between PKK loyalists and Islamist Kurds, with five of eight people killed being from the Free Cause party, or Hüda Par, according to local police.
Very conservative religiously, Hüda Par has emerged as a rival to the more secular PKK in the Kurdish south-east. The party originates in Hizbullah, a Sunni militant group from Turkey that has no connection to its namesake in Lebanon but shares that party’s sympathy for Iran.
Hizbullah gained notoriety in the 1990s when it was recruited by the Turkish “deep state” to murder and torture hundreds of PKK members and supporters in the region. For many, Hüda Par represents a Turkish government fifth column sowing intra-Kurdish conflict. [Continue reading…]