This is what a strategic interpretation should be: An analysis that stands before our very eyes but which we cannot make on our own about the topics we all know well. Why can’t we make this assessment by looking at the data available to us? Because we don’t have a strategy that plays nicely with the facts, that is, an action plan (roadmap) for our intentions. We are unable to diagnose the problem as it should be; rather, we tend to define it considerably differently from its true nature As a result, the data available to us lose their functional or practical value for a correct diagnosis or solution. In this case, the problem grows in size and magnitude and become gangrenous and unsolvable. Then, we start to seek “foreign forces” as scapegoats. Don’t take me wrong: There may be really foreign forces involved, but their part becomes critical when the issue at hand becomes unsolvable and open to foreign interventions. Consequently, the issue that is now a nightmare starts to loom large, further enhancing our sense of despair and helplessness. This in turn weakens our efforts to tackle it. From this point on, the issue starts to rule us and dictate its own terms and conditions. Does this process sound familiar to you? Doesn’t the Kurdish issue perfectly fit this description?
Stratfor’s researchers are now making us face this truth. In the March 13 issue of Taraf (p. 3), there is an assessment derived from interviews with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members: “The PKK disrupted Turkey’s foreign policy with a single bullet. This was the reason why the PKK abolished the cease-fire. The organization that didn’t like Turkey’s policy of becoming a regional leader returned to armed struggle in order to assert its existence and show the world that Turkey is still crippled by domestic issues.” Indeed, Turkey advertised itself as a regional leader that doesn’t have any domestic issues and expanded its diplomacy to the Balkans, the Middle East and even South America. And it started to think that it was high time that Turkey should save Gaza. The PKK cut down Turkey’s elongated hand in foreign policy with a single bullet.” Seen from this perspective, why shouldn’t Israel use the PKK to stop Turkey, which is extending its helping hand to Gaza? Why should the Syrian administration, whose power is being undermined, not use the PKK? Or wouldn’t Iran be eager to use it in order not to lose its good ally Syria or use it against Turkey, which seeks to tilt the balance against itself? If we say that all these countries and others would be inclined to use the PKK, then we should ask ourselves, “Why haven’t we solved the Kurdish issue for decades?” before putting the blame on these countries, shouldn’t we?
If you still have doubts, let us continue to read the rest of the document: “The PKK ... ensured that Turkey reduced its foreign policy targets and ... focus more on domestic issues.” The following assessment shows us that the issue has now become more complicated: “The PKK does not have single leader. … Indeed, it is a lifestyle in political, economic and administrative terms [the PKK is now more than an organization] ... [Abdullah] Öcalan is administering this system with his ideology and thought. … Although he is in prison physically, his ideology and thought can’t be imprisoned. ... The existing PKK leaders have not marginalized him. Rather, they take into consideration everything he says or suggests. ... And in return, Öcalan does not raise objections to Kandil’s decisions, and he lends support to them.”
What conclusions can we draw from this analysis?
1) Turkey cannot achieve internal stability or become a regional power without solving its Kurdish issue.
2) There have been and will be foreign forces that will take advantage of its weaknesses. Putting the blame for our problems on them is not a solution. Rather, this prevents us from understanding the issue and delays potential solutions.
3) The PKK has gone beyond being simply an armed organization. It cannot be eliminated using only violence or security measures. If the Kurds supporting the PKK are not allowed to participate in the system effectively and on equal terms, this will force them to “separate” from us with the alternative lifestyle and institutions they have created. In short, we need to choose between the legal and political option and the long-term and armed option.
4) The convergence among Kandil, Europe and Öcalan is higher than we suspected. The differences among them are in detail.
Now, were these facts all unknown to us that we have to learn them from a tarnished organization? If we say “no,” why don’t we make the right diagnosis and act accordingly? As an academic who has been studying this issue for 25 years, I am still at a loss in the face of these questions.