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The PM's got a "broad bean" in his mouth

By Oktay Eksi

Opposition leader Deniz Baykal has said it correctly. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a "broad bean" in his mouth. And until he removes it, we will neither be able to understand why an operation in northern Iraq still hasn't taken place, nor will we be able to solve what the hidden parts of his talks with US President George W. Bush actually entailed.

Now, let's try to sum up the parts that we do know:

Speaking yesterday to his party's parliamentary group, the PM said "Let no one expect us to act emotionally. Politicians need to behave cool-headedly, and with reason." With this, the PM was enunciating that his administration was consulting with all sides and factions.

In other words, we cannot expect any sort of operation until a foundation that includes not only military, but also political and diplomatic dimensions has been prepared.

The diplomatic dimension's foundation is ready though. There is practically no one left telling Ankara not to carry out an over the border military operation. The latest signal of this was an EU progress report which took generous space condemning PKK terror. Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner in charge of expansion, said, regarding this, "We support Turkey's struggle against terror, and, on the condition that it not be without limits, a military cross-border operation."

Efforts on this front really are beginning to give their fruits. Even statements from Massoud Barzani have stopped coming. What we are beginning to hear instead, from his spokespeople, assistants, even prime minister, are things like "as long as the operation takes only the PKK as a target, we will not oppose it." The northern Iraqi regional leadership has even reiterated over and over that they have cut logistic support to the PKK, and that these precautions are not just for show.

All this, when only 15-20 days ago Barzani noted that "we won't give even a Kurdish cat over to Turkey."

Of course, we don't have all the necessary information out there. But looking at the evidence we do have, we can say with some certainty that the circles have begun to close around the PKK. And of course, the leadership cadre within the PKK must know this.

Another negative situation for the PKK is the move by the Turkish Supreme Court's head prosecutor to shut down the largely Kurdish-backed Democratic Society Party (DTP).

Which is why with all this going on, it is interesting that the Prime Minister seems to have a "broad bean" in his mouth. His statements about why the PKK needs to choose "not the mountains, but the cities" as their place to roam (without weapons) reminds us of former President Turgut Ozal's stance towards the terror organization.

But I would like to underscrore an important point here:

No one in this nation is strong enough to discount crimes carried out by people and instead open the door to politics for them. Of course, if the PKK actually does leave off its weapons--and we are not talking about a simple announcement of a 'cease-fire' here-then the rest could flow from here.

But the fact is, we see even now that the PKK has most certainly not reached that level of maturity.

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