How Did the Turkish Peace Process Collapse?
Thursday July 30, 2015
Turkey’s peace process with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) began in the first three months of 2013, after nearly four decades of struggle in which an estimated 40,000 lives were lost.
It ended, finally, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally declared it dead on Tuesday this week. He also indicated that the government now intends to launch prosecutions against the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democracy Party (HDP) and its leader, Selahattin Demirel, less than two months after he and 79 others were elected to parliament by six million voters.
How has something which seemed so hopeful ended in this debacle? The short answer is a spate of murders in eastern Turkey that began when 32 left-wing student activists died in a bomb blast at Suruc on their way to Kobane on 20 July. PKK activists, convinced of a secret alliance between the AKP and ISIL (something which the AKP strongly denies), blamed the Ankara government for the deaths and began to retaliate by killing police. After five soldiers and gendarmes died at the hands of the PKK in quick succession, the patience of the Turkish government was exhausted. Retaliation in the form of repeated airstrikes against PKK targets in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq followed between Friday night and the early hours of Wednesday.