Yazilarim / Yankilar

Commentator Views KDP Policy

KDP Policy Viewed

Ozgur Politika

11 Oct 00

by M. Sirac Bilgin:

Mesut Barzani's recent visit to Ankara was very interesting. Compared with his previous visit to the Turkish capital, the outcome of this specific visit seems very different. As usual, Barzani held meetings with all the decision making organs of the Turkish state, including the MIT [National Intelligence Organization]. This time, however, the meetings were held in a different atmosphere. For the first time since the Gulf war, Mesut Barzani seems to turn his face toward Europe, the Middle East, and especially Iraq in a determined way.

First, let us look at the developments in the Middle East at the time of Barzani's visit to Ankara: The Iraqi state had lived in isolation for the last 10 years. This isolation ended the past month. The fact that UN Security Council member Russia and then France, which is also the member of the Council, landed their planes in Baghdad meant that the international arena supports the Iraqi people primarily and -- gradually -- the Iraqi regime. The regimes in Amman, Damascus, Tunisia, and Cairo, which were encouraged by this move, as well as the new leadership in Damascus have started to violate the embargo imposed on Iraq. Israel, in turn, got tougher, as if it wants to show its teeth to Arab world. In this regard, it started to kill one person after the other and threatened both Lebanon and Syria. In the meantime, the 'draft resolution regarding the Armenian genocide' was put to the fore in the US House of Representatives. Relations between Turkey and the United States soured. In retaliation, the Turkish state decided to raise the level of diplomatic relations with Baghdad. Just at that time, the KDP's [Kurdish Democratic Party] eternal enemy the PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] realized a basic policy change and, in a belated decision, allowed Washington to take control. These zigzag moves resulted in confusion. Talabani moved further away from Baghdad and became the new favorite of the Turkish state. The KDP, which was about to declare a federation within the framework of the Iraqi state, lost its credit in Ankara. Previously, Ankara had said: "The Kurdish issue is Iraq's internal problem and should be resolved within the framework of the integrity of the Iraqi state." When things started getting serious and when there were concrete initiatives to declare a federation, however, the Turkish state started to feel uncomfortable. The Turkish state must have taken into account that the southern forces would not continue to be the toys of the Ankara-Washington line until the end of the process. It should have known that the United States, which had not announced any solution formulas in the face of the problem, would not be able to use this environment of nonsolution without putting forward any solution formula. The United States totally concentrated on the elimination of the north Kurdistan movement, the PKK [Workers Party of Kurdistan]. In this regard, this new leap seems to have taken the United States by surprise. As a matter of fact, certain oral "guarantees" were given to Talabani, but the Kurds have enough experience to no longer believe in such promises.

Currently, Mesut Barzani is seeking support for the meetings he intends to hold in Europe. If, on his return, the atmosphere is suitable, he might sign an agreement with Baghdad and establish a federation. The KDP administration should pay attention to certain issues in order to ensure that this federation, which is planned within the framework of the Iraqi state, will survive. First and most important, special emphasis should be put on internal peace among the Kurds. They should make efforts to include everyone, including Talabani, in this new formation. They should never wage a war against the PKK. They should not repeat the mistake they made in 1992. In this regard, the federal state should be institutionalized as soon as possible. Internal peace among the Kurds is vital for their existence. Meanwhile, the PKK has proven that it is the main power in the south. The PKK has announced that it will support a federation that will be established in the south. In fact, the PKK has even stated that it is ready to defend this federation in the face of foreign attacks. Under these conditions, the KDP should stop being concerned about the PKK. The meetings held between Mesut Barzani and Kurdish political figures in Ankara and the views expressed by Barzani during these meetings arouse hope in terms of internal peace.

It seems that Talabani is the only person who might create problems in the face of the KDP's plan to establish a federation. The fact that upon his return from Washington he launched attacks against the PKK in a very determined way and the words uttered by the United States on 'the new Kurdistan and Iraq policy' show that this person will continue to live under illusions for a very long time. I hope that he will awaken soon and that he will support a process that may serve Kurdistan's interests. If he continues to constitute a problem, however, the chances are that he will be eliminated.