The post-coup political environment could provide a ripe moment to reinstate the peace talks between Ankara and the Kurdish movement.
By Dr. Ulas Doga Eralp*
Turkey’s failed coup shocked many over the weekend. It was a widely held belief that the era of military coups was long over. But as in all unfortunate political circumstances this might be an opportunity in disguise to reinvigorate the Kurdish peace process in Turkey. The subsequent purge of fifty thousand plus government officials with suspected Gulenist ties in the military, police and judiciary left Turkey’s security inevitably more susceptible to terror threats from ISIS and the PKK. However, it is important to note that during the night of the coup attempt the Kurdish political movement were openly opposed. Furthermore, among those detained in the aftermath of the coup attempt are some military and police personnel alleged to have taken part in the assassination of prominent Kurdish political activist and human rights lawyer, Tahir Elci, and the military commander who allegedly gave orders of indiscriminate fire on civilians in Cizre, among many others.
It might be a little difficult to notice before the dust settles but the post-coup political environment could provide a ripe moment to reinstate the peace talks between Ankara and the Kurdish movement. Anti-coup sentiment and commitment to the democratic order could be two pillars upon which a new peace framework could be established in Turkey. The pro-Kurdish HDP is currently the third largest political party in parliament; HDP’s youthful leader Demirtas has been making calls for reinstating the peace process for a while. The cessation of violence in Turkey’s South East could help re-establish the democratic order in the country and curb the influence of militarists on the Kurdish issue.
The biggest unknown is the willingness of Erdogan to re-launch the peace process. Erdogan now has a strong mandate after he emerged victorious from the coup attempt. Many in the West fear that he might use this period to practically put an end to the separation of powers and cement his grip over the future of the country. However, it is also important to note that the junta primarily targeted Turkey’s parliament, bombing it at least three times. Turkey’s parliament is now an important and legitimate player in the shaping of Turkey’s political future than ever before. The peace process could be renegotiated under the auspices of a parliamentary commission.
A parliamentary peace process with the Kurdish political movement could be the panacea Turkish democracy has been looking for. Even Erdogan might consider supporting the process given that a great number of the military personnel engaged in the recent clashes with the PKK participated in the coup attempt.
*Dr. Ulas Doga Eralp is a scholar and practitioner of international conflict, human rights, development and democratization. He has a PhD from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, and currently works as a Professorial Lecturer at the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program of the School of International Service (SIS) at American University in Washington, DC.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of TransConflict.