Saturday, October 24, 2015

Can the US be the mediator in the reconciliation process?

Etyen Mahçupyan,

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There are two leaders who have left their marks at the heart of the [Turkish-PKK] reconciliation process. First, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to initiate the process and undertook the concomitant political risks. Second, imprisoned PKK leader Abdulah Öcalan embraced the process and rendered it legitimate in the eyes of a considerable number of Kurds. ... [O]ne of the critical matters for the resolution of the Kurdish question for both Erdoğan and Öcalan was to keep the process away from the influence of third parties as far as possible. ...
Therefore, the government preferred to form a committee of "wise men" that would fill the gap in public diplomacy, a third party to arbitrate negotiations. Öcalan also supported this move. The wise men project both helped consolidate peace and indicated that there was no need for official outside mediation. It also enabled the issue to be handled by the people of Turkey, which was very important for Erdoğan and Öcalan, both of whom many times declared that they did not want the involvement of foreign elements in the reconciliation process of the Kurdish question. ...
[T]the U.S. must make a decision over the PKK's position and role and announce it clearly. If the U.S. can convince the PKK that the permanent solution in Syria is only possible with a return to democratic politics in Turkey, it will automatically find a chance to be the third party. It goes without saying that this will make a considerably positive contribution to the perception of the U.S. in Turkey.

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