Posted by: hevallo | August 15, 2010

>Why Turkey needs a Political Solution to Kurdish Question!

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by Dogu Ergil.

Turkey has come a long way toward understanding the root causes of some of its structural problems. However, little has taken place in changing the policies that turned these problems into lasting crises. One of the foremost problem it faces is the “Kurdish problem.” In fact, Kurds turned into a problem when the pluralist understanding of the nation, as in Ottoman times, was dropped and a uniform understanding of nationhood was adopted. Turkishness became the basis of citizenship. This could have been an inclusive definition had all non-Turks found an equal place under this official (thus theoretically political) identity. In daily practice, though, Turkishness acquired an ethnic quality and became exclusive. This phenomenon became the source of many unexpected conflicts and delayed the formation of national solidarity.

We now look back and recognize this structural flaw, but no one has had the courage to change things to fit the existing reality and the conflict has reached international dimensions, involving a huge army waging a war within and without, and a diplomatic corps that has expended most of its efforts to tell the world that Turkey is faced with the challenge of terrorism rather than mismanagement.

This void of reason and realistic policy made Kurdish dissatisfaction with the system grow into a formidable resistance and rebellion with little moral restraints in targeting official human, material and economic assets. The armed Kurdish organization called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has employed terrorist tactics all along had to solicit international patronage in order to roam outside Turkish borders and to rally support from actual or potential adversaries of Turkey. One way of soliciting such support is to diminish Turkey’s ability to be an energy hub along the East-West and South-North axes. In the days when Russian forces were invading Georgia, specifically on Aug. 5, 2008, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline was attacked by the PKK near the village of Yurtbaşı. The explosion halted oil flow for some time. The PKK’s aim was to signal that it was ready to serve Russian interests if need be.

The PKK found a soft target to hurt Turkey economically and diminish its quest to be a regional energy broker by attacking pipelines that extend either from the Caucasus or from Iraq into Turkey. One such attack took place last Tuesday on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline that carries about a quarter of Iraq’s crude exports. The attack was carried out in Turkey’s Mardin region near the town of Midyat. Two people were killed and one injured in the attack.

The 600-mile Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline, built in 1970, terminates at Turkey’s Dörtyol port on the Mediterranean coast near Ceyhan. This line has been the subject matter of serious controversy over the years. When the UN required the closure of the pipeline to punish the cruel Saddam Hussein regime between 1991 and 2003, Turkey had reported losses of approximately $80 billion in transit fees.

Although he pipeline had a pre-invasion capacity of about 1.5 million to 1.6 million barrels per day, it shipped only an average of 800,000 barrels per day following the invasion. Kirkuk-Ceyhan is Iraq’s most functional crude export pipeline. However, repeated insurgent attacks inside Iraq since 2003 have since lowered its daily output to around 600,000 barrels.

Today the most prominent of Turkey’s hydrocarbon export facilities is the 1,092-mile-long BTC pipeline, with a capacity of 1 million barrels per day. It began its operations in May 2005. Its construction cost $3.6 billion. It is estimated to supply 1 percent of the world’s daily energy needs. This pipeline transits high-quality crude from Azerbaijan’s offshore Azeri-Şirag-Güneşli fields to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

The damage inflicted on the BTC pipeline by the PKK in August 2008 was extensive. The BTC operator, British Petroleum, declared force majeure as valves were closed off and officials waited for the oil contained in a four-mile segment to burn out, costing the Turkish economy dearly.

These vicious attacks are the ugly side of the Kurdish problem that has not yet been officially defined, let alone addressed with a roadmap for a comprehensive solution. Having cost so much in human and material loss, the “problem” is now threatening one of Turkey’s most acclaimed economic ambitions. Is it worth it to uphold and exalt a fake unity while hopes and prospects for becoming a full-fledged, affluent democracy are still unfulfilled? Source:Zaman.

(Hevallo added the title and photograph)

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