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Turkey’s new plan: A panacea to terrorism?

Ankara last week unveiled an anti-terrorism plan that focuses on comprehensive democratic reforms, public order, and building bridges

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Ankara last week unveiled an anti-terrorism plan that focuses on comprehensive democratic reforms, public order, and building bridges with various segments of society.

It also underlines the need to socially and economically rehabilitate eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey.

Postponing premium debts of employers and local tradesmen, and providing job opportunities, are outlined as possible ways to reenergize the local economy.

“We will compensate the losses of all of our citizens due to terror. These [militants] have started a fire, but we will grow a rose garden at the site of the fire,” said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“All differences between the nation and state will be entirely eliminated, and we will have an understanding of uniting and integrating the nation with a human-oriented state instead of... disruptive nationalism.”

A communication unit will be established in every province to avoid misinformation about state-society relations, and urban infrastructure will be revamped.

In recent months, thousands of people have been displaced and hundreds killed in low-intensity warfare in the east and southeast, with curfews majorly disrupting people’s daily routines.

Kurdish issue

In late 2012, the government launched a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the process collapsed last year amid armed clashes between Kurdish militants and security forces.

Metin Gurcan, a security analyst and former special-forces officer, told Al Arabiya News that the anti-terror plan aims to convince Kurds to shun the PKK.

However, “it ignores Kurdish individuals under 30, and doesn’t use an egalitarian discourse to make them feel like equal citizens.”

The government should undertake “comprehensive damage assessment in the region to understand to what extent this longstanding conflict has traumatized the local people,” Gurcan added.

The plan involves assigning a budget of 26.5 billion Turkish lira ($9 billion) to revitalize the regional economy and infrastructure, which has been seriously hurt since the summer.

Nihat Ali Ozcan, a retired major now serving as a security analyst at Ankara-based think-tank TEPAV, said the plan is undermined because “the capacity and possible reaction of the PKK... are ignored.”

With the upcoming spring, the PKK can expand its areas of operation, Ozcan said, adding that the plan does not suggest any innovative or specific ways to handle terrorism.

Galip Dalay, research director at Al-Sharq Forum, told Al Arabiya News that the two dimensions of the plan - the economy and reconstruction - can be an integral part of a comprehensive political and security strategy to deal with the Kurdish issue, but not the foundation of such a plan.

“The Kurdish issue in its current form has two dimensions: the PKK, and Kurdish people’s rights and liberties,” Dalay said.

“The PKK issue is more security in nature. The government and PKK will have to sit at the negotiating table to resolve their differences.”

Dalay said unless Turkey and the PKK come to an agreement regarding Syrian Kurdish enclaves, there is unlikely to be a settlement regarding the PKK or security.

“The action plan has no provision in this regard, and the present climate suggests that a modus vivendi is unlikely anytime soon,” he said.

“Nevertheless, the security dimension of the Kurdish issue will in the end be solved by an agreement between the PKK and the government.”

In terms of Kurdish rights and liberties, “the government needs to undertake major political steps to alleviate the political dimension of the Kurdish issue,” said Dalay.

“The plan is short of provisions on the political side, so there’s a mismatch between its contents and the requirements to settle the Kurdish issue.”