ISTANBUL (Hürriyet Daily News)—Turkey’s military had been considering all possible options to a solution to the country’s Kurdish issue, but the topic was too hot to touch on political grounds, according to a recently leaked U.S. Embassy cable written in 2009.
“All options are on the table,” a high-ranking intelligence officer from the Chief of General Staff said in a briefing to resident foreign defense attaches on March 19, 2009, according to the March 27, 2009, cable, which was written in the wake of statements by important figures in northern Iraq on a possible amnesty for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK.
The cable, which was released in Turkey on Thursday by WikiLeaks’ local partner, the daily Taraf, said it was significant that Turkish politicians did not oppose the talk of an amnesty – as they had done so in the past.
In their evaluation, cable writer James Jeffrey, who was envoy to Ankara at the time, said an amnesty was a sine qua non for a lasting solution to the Kurdish issue, but added that domestic politicians could not utter the word for fear of upsetting sensitivities in western Turkey.
The cable also said a solution based on the Penitence Law, in which PKK members would express their “regret” for taking part in the armed struggle against the Turkish state in exchange for immunity from prosecution, would be unacceptable for organization members because it would be dishonorable.
PKK sympathizers told the U.S. that an amnesty would grant “legitimacy” to their struggle, as well as “military status” to the group, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
The cable writers said it was possible that an amnesty, or some form of probation, could be granted to the lower rank and file, while higher-placed PKK members could be sent into northern European exile.
Hopes, however, that convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan could be released were “futile,” the cable said.
Turkey’s ruling administration had been largely successful on the issue in terms of diplomatically building bridges with northern Iraq, the cable said, adding that clashes with the PKK had also given the government more power.
Ultimately, however, nothing short of the PKK’s disarmament can stop the war, the cable said, noting that young Kurds would always be willing to join the armed group regardless of the situation.
The cable was not only sent to the White House and the U.S. State Department but also to the CIA, the head of the Joint Staff, the U.S. Allied Forces Command, as well as U.S. representatives in Germany, Great Britain and Iraq.