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Released on 2012-03-08 16:00 GMT

Email-ID 1092847
Date 2011-01-07 14:27:27
This can become a good piece because it intersects a number of Turkey
trends we are following, I.e., Elections, Kurdish separatism, and the AKP
v Secularist struggle. You have the material here. So it shouldn't take
too much time. But for the purposes of a proposal you need to zoom out of
the details and provide a simple and clear thesis of what it is that this
piece is going to be about and its significance.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


From: Emre Dogru
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2011 07:12:16 -0600 (CST)
To: Analyst List
ReplyTo: Analyst List
Subject: DISCUSSION - TURKEY/CT - Hezbollah, PKK, Gulen and AKPa**s new
Kurdish Strategy
I'm willing to transform this discussion into a piece but not sure if it
is too local and/or a delicate issue. Thoughts would be much appreciated.

Top-brass militants of Turkish Hezbollah have been released two days ago -
after staying 10 years in prison a** as a result of a law in Turkish penal
code that the Turkish government recently changed. Ia**m not going to talk
about the details of the new law, but briefly their cases will continue
while they are outside of prison. This may not be a law that is
specifically about Hezbollah, but it is clearly Hezbollah that benefits
the most from it. And not surprisingly, Ergenekon culprits the least.

Why does Hezbollah matter? We need to look deeper into its history to
understand this. First, what I would prefer to call as the first period of

Hezbollah was active in 1980s and especially in 1990s, and especially in
fight against PKK in Southeastern Turkey. Turkish Hezbollah and PKK are
the two main rivals there, with Hezbollah being very Islamist and PKK a**
still a** quite secularist. This struggle, of course, was in Turkish
Statea**s very interest and today there is no doubt that Hezbollah gained
a lot of power in late 1990s with Turkish a**deepa** statea**s support to
counterweight PKK. However, it became much more powerful than the Turkish
State expected. In 2000, Turkish special forces made operations against
the group and killed its leader Velioglu. Turkish media revealed how
Hezbollah killed and tortured people (its rivals, moderate Islamists and
even its own members), and buried them in the backyard of their
cell-houses. In revenge, Hezbollah killed police chief of the main Kurdish
province Diyarbakir. (As a side note, my Kurdish source from Diyarbakir
told me that this police chief interrogated leader of Hezbollaha**s armed
wing and learned every detail about Hezbollaha**s ties to the State. Then
he came out and said he was the black box of the Turkish state. He was
killed that week in the downtown of Diyarbakir. So, ita**s very likely
that the State supported his killing by Hezbollah).

Second period started in 2000. Hezbollaha**s leader was killed and all
top-brass was jailed. Hezbollah renounced armed struggle, and founded many
newspapers, websites, and associations instead. It became more civilized
and expanded its civil network. It has been working as a civil society
organization in the region with activities very much in parallel with
PKKa**s civilian organization. Today, its members and sympathizers are
estimated to be around hundreds of thousands of people. It should be kept
in mind that even though they tried to be a national - Islamist group,
they were unable to spread beyond Kurdish areas.

Now, we are about to see the third period of Hezbollah. Release of
top-brass Hezbollah is going to revitalize the group. But of course one
question remain: why now?

There are three main movements/bloc that claim they have right and power
to get involved in the Kurdish issue. First, Hezbollah/Mazlum-Der (its
civil society organization). Second, PKK/DTK (civil organization)/BDP
(political party). Third, Gulen movement. Erdogan is on top of these three
movements and makes sure that they constantly balance each other off. He
plays them against each other and does not allow any of them to gain
enough power to challenge his government. This strategy allows Erdogan to
buy time, without getting really involved in thorny issues. Never forget
that the Kurdish issue is the biggest problem of the Turkish Republic and
how politically risky it is. Erdogan will settle the Kurdish issue when he
becomes president, not now. For now, he needs time. Hence, balance of
power between these groups.

>From this background information, the pattern shows us that Erdogan is
now pushing Hezbollah against the other two. Why? Because there is only
six months left before the parliamentary elections and PKK/DTK/BDP bloc is
currently dominating the political debate about the Kurdish issue. They
successfully opened the discussion on bi-lungualism, behaved very
cautiously not to provoke anyone and dominated the issue over the past few
weeks. Ia**m sure they also created rifts within the AKP and the State as
to how to deal with them. As an example, Gul seems to have a rhetoric that
is closer to PKK than Erdogan. Moreover, it is important that PKK does not
attack for the moment. This gives a momentum to its popular base. Overall,
things are going well for PKK bloc.

But, something much more important happened three weeks ago, that could
seriously challenge Erdogana**s game plans. For the first time, PKKa**s
leader Ocalan offered cooperation to Gulen movement with a message from
his prison. If you think how PKK is strong in the region and prevented
almost all activities of the Gulen movement, this becomes really
game-changing. The two blocs, PKK and Gulen have remained silent since
then but there is no reason to rule out the possibility that they have
been holding back-channel talks. Imagine what would a cooperation between
the two main blocs mean to the AKP. Erdogan could not tolerate such a
possibility. My guess is that Erdogan told this to his unofficial
chief-of-staff Mucahit Arslan, who is the closest to Hezbollah bloc in
AKP, to organize this push. My sources who travel with Erdogan's
delegation abroad told me that Arslan is the king of Erdogan's delegation,
in charge of everything and everyone.

Now, reports say that Hezbollah is mulling how to participate 2011
elections. They may participate as independent candidates or support a
political party. It is not important whether they will support AKP, which
I see unlikely. But there is no question that they will strongly counter
PKK in the Kurdish regions, which is in AKPa**s best interest.

Emre Dogru

Cell: +90.532.465.7514
Fixed: +1.512.279.9468