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    Barzani as the “Third Party”

    Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD29 March 2012 - Okunma Sayısı: 1321

     

    Since last week, “new strategies” in the struggle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK have been being argued. To me, the main problem was not “the new strategy,” but lack of a loud and clear political target. In other saying, which political target will be realized thanks to the aforementioned strategy is beyond us.

    When regarded, one may say the purpose of the “new strategy” is not achieving progress on the PKK question, but at the most is a search of how to steer through “two calm summer seasons” without PKK attacks. Is that possible? To understand this, looking at the setup of the “new strategy” is required. As far as it is concerned, the main actor of the “new strategy” is Masoud Barzani. Purportedly, he will work hard and sincerely for Turkey. Thus Turkey will be at ease. However, this assumption seems quite problematic. It is true Barzani may take some steps in the short run and for his tactical interests. But in the long run and for his political aims he certainly will be on the safe side. For this reason, a “third party” role in the new strategy sounds unbelievable.

    Barzani has political reasons he could never ignore. The first reason is his father’s and his tribe’s historic mission recommends he never take a step that might paint the PKK into the corner. He carries the responsibility of the historic heritage of armed struggle which lasted years against the Ottoman Empire, British colonial administration and the Iraqi state on his shoulders. Nowadays he believes he is the sole political representative of Kurdish nationalism.

    The second reason is Barzani’s political culture. Political gain is possible only with time, arms, mountain and tribe quartet. While having such a political culture, it is not practical reckoning he would plump for doing politics with soft tools like democracy, negotiation and law.

    The third reason; he would not want to miss the opportunity that has emerged for the Kurds from the “Arab Awakening.” For this reason, he cannot stand against the PKK.

    The fourth reason; clashing with a harsh, post tribe movement like the PKK is not sound. After all, Barzani and his community have shifted into a permanent settlement and started to make the most of money and welfare. He may undergo what “happened to all states.”

    But, tactically he may seem as if he is helping Turkey on the PKK question. The first reason is geopolitical dilemmas. He needs Turkey for exiting international markets and sustainable welfare. If he cannot sustain this welfare, then the “Arab Awakening” may take its effect differently within doors. Secondly, he needs Turkey to sell his oil in the future. Thirdly, an independent Kurdish state might emerge out of the ongoing chaos in Iraq and he must preserve his power for this. Four, he needs Turkey against Iranian pressure.

    As a result, Barzani will act tactically as if he is helping the Turkish government on the PKK issue. But in the long run subsisting of the PKK is in Barzani’s interest. Another significant point that should be kept in mind is in today’s world what is important is not what reality is, but what kind of image you make among the public.

    This commentary is published on 29.03.2012 in Hürriyet Daily News.

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