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The Peace that Wasn't: The Spectra of Violence during Negotiations between the Turkish State and Kurdish Mobilizations, 2013-2015

Conflict
Contentious Politics
Ethnic Conflict
National Identity
Nationalism
Political Violence
Social Movements
Peace
Kumru Toktamis
Pratt Institute
Kumru Toktamis
Pratt Institute

Abstract

Violence was an integral aspect of the Peace/Resolution negotiations during 2013 and 2015 that supposedly aimed to end the 30-years old armed conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish rebellions. What was deemed as a Peace Process by the segments of public who were more democratic co-existence oriented, was already presented as a Resolution Process by the state that only aimed to disarm the rebels. The process, which actually was a contentious entrenchment, included a severe settlement of accounts within the power bloc of the ruling party. That tag of war which became somehow public in late 2013 and came into light during the coup attempt of July 2016, was already well known and persistently expressed by the Kurdish interlocutors because the violent aspects of that tension were part of the everyday life in the Kurdish town and cities. The coalition partners that presented themselves as civil society/community solidarity groups in Western Turkey were actually effective actors of state violence among the Kurdish speaking regions of the country. A close reading of the minutes of negotiations between 2013-2015 reveal that, in this contentious entrenchment government actors aimed disarm the rebels and at the same time engage in a face-off to eliminate one another. Following the relational traditions of the Contentious Politics perspective, this paper argues that the Peace/Resolution process was a (re-)entrenchment, i.e. a relational and putative firm position and discourse that is fortified through institutional arrangements, policies and public discourse that is transgressive with respect to the actions of the others. A military conceptualization may better express this seemingly communicative political process of negotiations because bracketing violence, that was integral and ongoing, prevents us from understanding the shifts and the stakes. An entrenchment is an interplay, it is a seemingly fixed and steady yet fluid position due to its transgression. The Peace/Resolution process was a re-entrenchment of the state’s policy regarding the Kurdish population that shifted from a “security-coercion” paradigm to a “brotherhood-coercion” paradigm. Such re-entrenchment revealed the cracks within the power bloc, re-positioned power alliances within the state, and established a new policy vis-à-vis the Kurdish politics which incorporates new forms of violent repression and co-existence. This paper analyzes on the publicized minutes of the two-year negotiations between the Kurdish civilian and armed political leaders to display the integral role of violence and re-entrenchment of the state coercion in Kurdish politics during so-called Peace/Resolution Process.