Negotiating Kurdish conflict

Socialization rather than nationalism needed in dealing with Kurdish issue

OTHER OPINION

UğUR KÖMEÇOğLU

A photograph of two deputies from Turkey's southeastern region -- one from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and one from the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)-- would do wonders in carrying the peace process to a whole new level. The people of the country need to see that, in fact, peace is the best option for all.
Despite the agitations caused by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), most people in Turkey support the struggle against terrorism and cooperation between the sides. Dialogue needs to occur for the struggle to be over, and every time that dialogue is postponed it strikes a new blow to freedom, making true dialogue impossible.
All movements towards freedom are by their very nature communication-based, which is why dialogue must not come in the wake of freedom, but rather during the process of achieving freedom. In new statements about freedom made by jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) head Abdullah Öcalan, he focuses more on the importance of society and its state rather than nationalism and the nation-state. In doing so, it appears that he has grasped that, in fact, nationalism is the ideological apparatus of capitalism. And this is meaningful because, for the past five years, the violence carried out in the name of the Kurds and the parallels that have been drawn between the ideas of freedom and creating sovereignty have actually made things much more difficult for the Kurds' freedom. And it appears that now Öcalan, too, has become aware of this. The Kurds of Turkey do not want to plunge into the witch's cauldron of the Middle East.
In the meantime, there are competing strategies that exist in southeast Turkey. What is important in the coming period is that relations between the competitors in this region be ones that transform not only the existing structure but the ongoing clashes. In fact, successful socialization for individuals is dependent on the creation of such relations. More important than the indispensable and untouchable rights of individuals living in some sort of political order are the actions of people in the public arena in a society where these same people have a shared influence on social life. This is a general situation that points to the importance of, more than a nation, the idea of a shared society, and the awareness of the importance of the formation of this shared society. For this reason, the AK Party may pick up ideas from some of the moderate actors within the BDP; it might consult these actors and create projects with these actors.
As for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his consultants, they cannot carry this process to a successful ending on their own. There needs to be a voice from the subordinates here. The AK Party and the BDP might work literally like a regional coalition government of sorts. One has power, while the other has knowledge and influence. Civil society lends its support to this informal strategy. And for as long as violence remains excluded from the process, it is not impossible that these competitors can reach some compromise. In terms of the speed of the changes unfolding, it is significant that Öcalan has underscored his favoring of socialization rather than nationalism.
It is also meaningful that Ahmet Türk of the hawkish wing has said that he wants brotherhood. Abandoning the language of threat and blackmail creates an incredibly important opportunity for all, and no concessions should be made when it comes to supporting that which can lead to the BDP abandoning its tough rhetoric. While using a level-headed stance and making smart moves, there ought to be a pursuit of balanced cooperation. If the process of democratization is sought only through bureaucratic state intervention or through the notion of ethnicity, what will emerge will be a variety of styles that clash with one another. Realistic social processes select different styles and manners that are found in the experiences of different social groups; they do not follow a singular path. There are ups and downs in this general mixture of mistakes and successes. These ups and downs are part of the nature of socialization. In the period that comes after clashes are over, bridges of dialogue need to be formed between all the traditional and modern social structures, and between all the participation by citizens as well as ethnic identities.
There is a need for the formation of transition lines that lead towards everyone being able to live together. And this is possible only through giving people, civil societies and peace-based political socialization a chance; it also underscores the importance of a dialogue-based society and mutual exchange. The armed Kurdish movement has been focused on maximalist demands, and like all social movements that do not limit themselves was built upon totalitarian tendencies, in spite of the truth that freedom and the idea of a public arena are based upon interdependence. And it is for this reason that civil societies need to enter into processes that recognize the importance of social actors. They should thus work on constructing arenas wherein values are constantly discussed.

Suggestions for a post-violence society
When violence comes to an end, ethno-political identities and the former collective representations cannot change entirely. People need to reconstruct social and political socialization arenas; these arenas need to be reinterpreted. The primary condition of the dialogue sought in the region needs to be that it is completely interwoven with the people of the region. At the same time, those sovereign elites who have always chosen Kurdish as well as Turkish members of society as the target masses for their own brands of manipulation need to stop this sort of strategy. Attempts to pull the people of the region towards authoritarian organizations are real threats towards the real freedom of the people. Making people think that there is nothing outside of their own ethnic roots which will add meaning or value to their lives is an effort that winds up affecting these people dangerously. And in fact this particular strategy has never gone beyond “anti-dialogue” actions, and has never achieved anything other than making the people of the region unable to think, or basically putting them to sleep. For to wit, the societal fabric of the people is really very multicultural. An opposition to dialogue which rejects the public and relies just on ethnicity is ultimately a “cultural invasion.”
In the end, the most realistic approach is to move away from a stance of just trying to solve the problems, and instead attempt to reveal what the problems really are, and to bring these problems out into the open. Both sides in question need also to move away from political engineering and all of its risks. In this sense, the concept of “dialogue” dovetails with the stance of “transforming clashes,” which focuses on non-violent competitive leadership. It is very misleading to believe that talks between political elites focused on ethnic matters or questions of who will have sovereignty will be able to solve the real social problems at hand; in fact, these solutions will not be obtained without taking into consideration the various elements of society.
When this happens, societal development remains limited to some small parts of the entire mass, or to those who stand to gain politically. Attempts at ending violent clashes require cooperation, but cooperation tends to happen between actors that enjoy equal status in society. So when there is the stance of tackling those clashes without tackling the social causes for those clashes, dialogue will happen, even with groups that are at an extremely disadvantaged position from a social or political perspective, but it will happen between those who do not enjoy equal status in society. In order to deal successfully with social clashes, there needs to be development of “awareness” of the importance of traditional manners of cooperation that existed before the clashes, as well as recognition of the “sources of cultural wisdom” within society that are suffering because of these clashes.
(Todays Zaman)
(Dr. Uğur Kömeçoğlu is an instructor at Süleyman Şah University)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 2 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 3 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST




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