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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kurd rebel leader orders fighters to cease fighting, leave Turkey | Reuters

I am afraid that I don't have time for a longer post on this arguably momentous day since I have to finish a conference paper. But Reuters has a sober report on today's call, by the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, for a withdrawal of PKK fighters beyond Turkey's borders and on the challenges that lie ahead. It is worth reading.

Since I am naturally inclined to be naïvely optimistic, I would qualify the healthy skepticism of the Reuters piece by emphasizing that what is happening today and with the ongoing peace process is something truly extraordinary. There are no guarantees and set-backs are entirely possible (how will Turkish nationalists react to seeing a sea of PKK flags but no Turkish flags at the gatherings, for example?), but have we ever been this close to a lasting resolution of the Kurdish conflict?

Let us stop and acknowledge the significance of the moment before adding the necessary caveats.

Below are some excerpts from Öcalan's letter, which was read to more than a million listeners in Diyarbakır today, courtesy of Hürriyet Daily News:

“We are at a point today that guns will be silenced and thoughts will speak. It is time for armed elements to move outside [Turkey’s] borders. This is not an ending but a new beginning”

“Our fight has not been against any race, religion or groups. Our fight has been against all kinds of pressure and oppression. Today we are waking up to a new Middle East, new Turkey and a new future” 
“Today a new era is beginning. A door has been opened from armed struggle to democratic struggle” 
“The Middle East and Middle Asia are looking for a new order. A new model is a necessity, like bread and water”' 
“It is time for unity. Turks and Kurds fought together in Çanakkale [during World War I], and launched the Turkish Parliament together in 1920” 
“Despite all the mistakes done in the past 90 years, we are trying to build a model that embraces all oppressed people, classes and cultures” 
“The basis of the new struggle is ideas, ideology and democratic politics”

Kurd rebel leader orders fighters to cease fighting, leave Turkey | Reuters

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