"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been unenthusiastic about operations from the beginning; but he opposes them for other reasons than pacificists...but it is better than nothing..."
Prime Minister reluctant
Yavuz Önen, president of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), reminded bianet of what Erdogan had said in June, before a bill permitting cross-border operations was passed in parliament: "We haven't solved the problems inside, so why should we go outside?"
According to Önen, Erdogan is aware of the fact that hte issue has international dimensions, and that a military operation would not be against the PKK, but really against the USA.Önen also pointed out that next to the reserved government, there was an army which had always argued that operations were necessary. There are thus two authorities concerning operations.
General Basbug: Operations have started
"If Ground Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug says 'operations have begun', that means that they have begun. This kind of operation can also be carried out without entering Iraq. Both the domestic and the international media say that planes taking off in Turkey have bombed certain targets. This can be interpreted as a start to operations."
In a statement to the "Hürriyet" newspaper on 16 November, Basbug had said, "We are in the process of carrying out cross-border operations", adding:
"The bill has been passed by parliament, and the cabinet has been given authority. Now I have got grace from all decision-makers, especially the media and politicians; now leave the decision-makers in peace so that this process can be carried out successfully. We have entered the carrying-out process."
USA, Iraq and Turkey
Önen pointed out that the system had been dominated by these contradictory attitudes from the beginning, and that the two authorities have not been able to achieve consensus:
"The USA is aiming at finding a solution which involves both the Iraqi government and Turkey. The military factor is extremely weak in this three-way programme. The government is stuck between the USA and the Turkish armed forces which argue that military operations have to be started immediately."
Indirect call on PKK to lay down arms
On 16 November, Erdogan had opposed lifting the immunity of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) parliamentarians, arguing that "Democratic paths have to be used. If a strict defense is applied, if people are left out of parliament, then you send them to the mountains, too."
In the same statement, Erdogan said that the fight against the PKK would continue until "the terrorist organisation lays down its arms."
Önen: We need discourses of peace
Önen interpreted this statement as positive, saying "I hope that there will be a positive response to this call."
He added, "There is a price to pay for the fact that in Turkey guns talk louder than politics and civilian life. This price is paid by democracy, there is loss of life. Soldiers' families and society are grieving. We need discourses which start a peace process." (GG/AG)