By Ayşe Sözen, World Bulletin
Within two months Turkey’s agenda has been sliding between hunger strikes and the possibility of abolishing immunity rights of Kurdish Parliamentarians in the TGNA, restarting negotiations with ‘Imralı’ and the probability of sabotaging the negotiation process, shocking news of 3 PKK militant murders in France and protecting prudence at the funerals of Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan, and Leyla Söylemez in Diyarbakır.
The spring weather and tension coexist together throughout the country within the insecure atmosphere of mutual distrust. Speculations flow in the air: while ‘Kandil’ accuses the ‘deep’ state in murdering three PKK members, representatives of the government comment on the killings as an inner execution within the PKK. At the international level, on the other hand, foreign actors like Iran, Syria, France and Germany are included as suspects of the murders too. According to commentators, Iran as a country who may desire to undermine the peaceful talks between the Turkish state and the Kurds would have been an option that assassinated the PKK militants while Syria and France may become other suspects as the countries of money trafficking regulators of the PKK. Germany, on the other hand, is a country in this network that has always efficient intelligence activities connected to Turkey.
In this highly complicated and conspiracy smelling atmosphere, Turkey’s relations with the EU and the US are delicate. Two important consequences of murders in Paris may emerge with regard to Turkey’s foreign relations. First of all, the negotiation process with the EU may be suspended permanently although it also seems they enjoy spring season after the EU Presidency is undertaken by Ireland from the Southern Cyprus and Sarkozy replaced by Hollande in the last Presidential election of France. Second, America may want Turkey to be the focus of the Kurdish issue rather than the Northern Iraq for a while as it wants to do fine-tuning in overall Iraq.
Following the murders in France an invisible crisis took place between the Turkish and French intelligence services. This has been reflected in the statements of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who accused the French President Hollande to be in dialogue with the members of a terrorist organization. In fact, Erdogan’s statement was signaling more serious problem than being in dialogue with PKK members. The real problem was the lack of sharing data between French and Turkish intelligence services on the murders. Markus Bernath who is a columnist in Der Standard, an Austrian newspaper, commented on the recent crisis as a new bitterness between France and Turkey.
According to Berbath, Turkish-French relations are endangered once more after the Armenian issue as the first serious one. In fact, the relations have only recently stepped into a hopeful phase when France used the wording of ‘accession’ related to Turkey in the last EU Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting. This has opened a new page in the process. However, for Bernath, the last event took place in France may give the Elycée Palace the opportunity to continue its blockages on the regional, monetary, and economic issues in the Turkey’s negotiation process with the EU.
If Berbath is right, however, Turkey would not be the one who will insist on continuing the negotiations without any progress. On the way to resolve its most important internal problem of the Kurdish issue and writing a civil constitution as a compromise of all sides in the country, Turkey is preparing itself to be a more important regional actor. With its strong economy and geographic proximity to the important energy sources, Turkey does not feel itself constrained to the European regionalization anymore. For the current government, Turkey now has more options in terms regionalization. No doubt, moving the center from Oslo to Erbil for the negotiations between the Turkish state and the Kurdish representatives is another sign for Turkey’s confidence in its choices.
Turning to our second point, all the progress taking place in Turkey with regard to the Kurdish issue in the last two months may be relational with American ambitions in the region. Although, America seems nowhere at the recent developments in the region, the subtext of the events reads in a different way.
Since the negotiation process started between the Turkish state and Ocalan followed by the murders of the militants in France, Turkey has become the focus of the Kurdish issue. In fact, a month ago from now, it was the Northern Iraq. The tension between Barzani and the Maliki government in Bagdad and the threats voiced by Barzani against the
Maliki government on declaring the independence of Kurdistan in the North have made all of the audiences think that the establishment of Kurdistan is sooner than anything else in the region. However, the things were not that easy. The management of oil in Iraq was very critical for the Americans. Turkey’s unexpected progress in dealing with Northern Iraq on direct oil export and the marginalization of Maliki government with respect to the rising powers in the region resulted in restless in the USA. The statement made by Nuland, the spoke person of the State Department of the USA, exposed the American discomfort on the issue. Nuland openly said on January 8, “Without permission from the Federal Government of Iraq we are against oil export from any parts of Iraq”. In fact, Nuland’s statement came as a follow of a question about Turkey’s newly emerging ties with the Northern Iraq on oil export.
America’s concerns in Iraq are not restricted with the North. The central government in Bagdad is as important as the Northern Iraq for America. Its oil interests necessitate a fine tuning in overall Iraq. As a power trying to design Iraq since 2003, America does not want to be in a position to sacrifice the Maliki government to Iran readily. As a result of the developments in Syria the rows are sharper in the region. While Turkey gets closer with the Northern Iraq, Maliki approaches more to Iran. Any sudden move would push Maliki government more to Iran which might have been an undesirable for the US. Indeed, Maliki holds the bargaining card of joining in Iran in the case of Iraq’s disperse in its hands. There is possibility of Maliki government to participate in Iran if the borders of Iraq are changed. America would like to dismiss this probability. On that account, America might want to postpone the establishment of the independent Kurdistan in Iraq, though bearing in mind its inevitability.
As a consequence, three important American concerns in Iraq may be relevant to the recent developments in the Kurdish issue in Turkey. First, America primarily aims to protect its oil interests in Iraq both in the North and in the South. Second, it would like to keep the Maliki government as its ally in the region. And last but not least it wants to keep its promise of the establishment of the independent Kurdistan sooner or later.
Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2013, 13:56