The PKK’s Alternative – OpEd


By Ihsan Bal

Those people who would like to involve the PKK in some way in their calculations need to realise that with each passing day, time is running out for those who cling to this strategy. So those who have shared their insights with the organisation, and are now trying to cash in on having done so, have suffered heavy setbacks over the last year and it looks as if a point has now been arrived even inside the organisation where questions are being asked.

Most of the wretched young militants who believed that they could copy the Arab Spring and take possession of towns via a peoples’ uprising have lost their lives.

And it is clear that those who remain have to put up with great hardship in the hideouts to which they have withdrawn for winter shelter.

This winter very harsh conditions await the organisation.

How do I know all these? Do I have access to critical intelligence reports. Actually no, it is sufficient simply to read correctly between the lines in the volley of news stories on the media.

What the would-be advisers to the organisation need to grasp is as follows: Turkey is really no longer the old Turkey and no grounds whatsoever remain today for sending young men to their deaths.

Very well, but just how is the new Turkey different?

The General Staff has declared in a statement to the press that only fully professional soldiers are to be deployed in the struggle against terrorism from now on.

This professionalism is the underlying reason for the success of the fight against terrorism.

This is a very important development in three respects.

First, combat undertaken using professionals leads to reduced losses, full attainment of goals, and initiatives of higher quality.

If the state kills a citizen, even if he is a terrorist, it does not have the luxury of feeling proud about it. But one of the reasons why the state exists is to protect its citizens and to render harmless militants who have turned into death machines.

The total number of militants captured, surrendered or unavoidably killed over the last year is more than 1,000.

In recent times, villages have not been burnt down. Torture does not take place. Violations of human rights are minimized. In short care has been taken in combating terrorism to respect the sensitivities of a democratic state. Using only professionals has played a very important part recently in this success.

Certainly there was the Uludere incident [in which local people died when they were mistaken for terrorists] something which to be born in mind and treated as a tragedy.

The second important gain in combating terrorism is centralised control and co-ordination.

Nowadays we have left behind the times when poor intelligence and raids on gendarme posts were more or less routine developments. Such things have become exceptional events.

We have also left behind the times when the different units involved in combating terror jostled and pushed against each other. It is now normal to speak of police, gendarmerie, and special forces battalions all setting out together for pretty well every operation.

We no longer watch things like grotesque discussions on our television screens about why a helicopter lift took eight or ten hours. This is an obvious indication that taking initiatives and division of duties are carried out swiftly, effectively and in a coordinated fashion.

The third gain for anti-terror combat that control of areas no longer depends on operational teams, pinned down in the open as they formerly were. Thus losses of these teams no longer occur.

It is the intensive use of technology which may be said to have made control over the area of operations possible. Moreover, human-based intelligence data make it possible to conduct operational manoeuvres on the basis of information and data.

All these things demonstrate that Turkey has gone through a complete transformation as far as the security side of combatting terrorism is concerned.

Those minds who have been rooting for the terrorist organisation, and, on the internet, given it the illusion of being a force, should put on their hats and have a rethink.

The time has come to stop using young people as pawns in a meaningless and despicable game.

On his return from Pakistan, the prime minister made a proposal in this connection which is both timely and appropriate. Arms should be handed over and the people up on the mountains should stop regarding death as the only way forward for them.

To conclude: as the prime minister personally has said with his own mouth that there are other alternatives, no reason now remains for regarding suicide on the mountains as intelligent and acceptable.

Ihsan Bal
Head of USAK Science Committee

This article was first published in HaberTürk newspaper on Saturday, 24 November 2012. Traslated from Turkish by David Barchard.


JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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