August 12, 2015

The Return of Naughty Tom: Why does not Turkish state want to solve the Kurdish Question? - By Dr. Ayub Karimi

In one episode of Tom and Jerry animation series, Tom the cat hit its head into a window and became a calm and friendly creature that did not follow and hurt Jerry the mouse any more. After a while, Jerry who could not live in this way designed a plan to hit Tom’s head with a heavy object so that it returns to its role as a naughty cat. This is the story of the Kurdish Question in Turkey.

On July 2010, a PKK leader, Murat Karayilan said he would order his fighters to lay down their weapons, under the supervision of the United Nations, if Turkey agreed to a ceasefire and met certain conditions. His demands, he said, included an end to attacks on Kurdish civilians and arrests of Kurdish politicians in eastern Turkey. When we analyze these demands proposed by the greatest Kurdish group demanding independence once upon a time, we can conclude that the group wanted to solve the problem in a peaceful way because it had downgraded its demands at a level which is not acceptable even for ordinary Kurdish citizens who want self-determination at least. But the Turkish state rejected the suggestion immediately and said: “We do not negotiate with terrorists”.

Obviously Turkish statesmen do not want to solve the Kurdish Question and many parts of Turkish society, including the army, want to reproduce violence. But why? Some analysts present a logical explanation: “As the main power holder from 1924 on, the Turkish army has had a huge power to defend the so-called ‘territorial integrity’ and interpret the constitution according to its will. Although the AKP tried to limit their power but the prestigious position of army generals is guaranteed by the Kurdistan war.”
The above explanation is true but there is a deeper truth: In fact, the Kurdish nation is ‘the other’. The Kurds for Kemalists play the role of Jews for Nazis. The fascistic systems need a domestic enemy in order to blame them for all deficiencies of the system. And the AKP, the Islamist ruling party, is an Islamofascist group. The fact that they have seized power by election does not make any difference. We should remember that Hitler gained power through election too.    

Of course, the Kurdish Question has a very long history. The precedence of nationalism among the Kurds is much longer even than European nations. In the seventeenth century, one hundred years before the French Revolution that triggered nationalism, a Kurdish poet named Ehmed Xani suggested in his masterpiece (Mem u Zin) that instead of several Kurdish Emirates, the Kurds should have one state with one king. During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire occupying most parts of Kurdistan moved towards centralism. So many Kurdish uprisings happened because the Kurds who had local Emirates since 728 BC could not tolerate the violation of their self-rule.

But the main uprisings happened after the formation of Turkey as a fascistic republic in 1924 which propounded the motto “It is an honor to be a Turk”. The Kurds whose land was divided into four parts after the World War I revolted in 1925, 1930 and 1936 which were brutally suppressed. Different civil movements led by the Kurdish parties and associations were also suppressed between 1940 and 1980. Even the Kurdish language was forbidden throughout Turkey. Therefore the only way for the Kurds was armed struggle. During 1970s a group of leftist intellectuals, including Abdullah Ocalan, founded the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). By adopting a Marxist center-periphery model, the PKK regarded Kurdistan as a colony which is occupied by four states, i.e. Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. So such a radical interpretation would inevitably culminate in armed struggle for the right of independence which began in 1984.

However after three decades of bloody war in the North Kurdistan that culminated in ruining about 3,000 Kurdish villages, killing almost 40 thousand peoples and swallowing one-third of Turkey’s annual budget, both rational sides within the PKK and the Turkish government reached the conclusion that the problem should be solved in a peaceful way. But the fascist forces who benefitted from the war conditions did not accept the solutions suggested by the Kurdish captured leader, Ocalan. In fact, the fascist forces in Turkey want the PKK to play its naughty role which could be labeled as terrorist. Jerry wants naughty Tom to continue the game because without a naughty Tom its identity will endanger.

There is another significant matter which is the US and EU’s policy as Turkey’s allies. The US’s double standard in dealing with the Kurdish question in Iraq and Turkey clearly indicates that the national question which once was one of the American foreign policy principles is only a card. The EU, on the other hand, raises the Kurdish question as a matter of terrorism and suggests such solutions as cultural rights and economic development without any political rights for Kurdistan. It seems the European authorities think that the Kurds only want to use their language and enjoy their traditional dance! This is while they know that the same problems in Europe, including in the Northern Ireland, Basque and Catalonia have been solved through autonomy and local parliaments, not through language and dance.    
Now another issue has complicated the Kurdish Question even more: ISIL. While the PKK-allied YPG is fighting against the ISIL in Syria and practically it is an ally for the anti-terror coalition, Turkey has labeled both the PKK and ISIL as terrorists and launched air strikes against both of them. This is a new tactic adopted by the Turks: Place two conflicting groups in one category and attack them so that both of them seem the same! It is obvious that despite official statements, Turkey prefers ISIL to YPG. During Kobani battle, Erdogan declared delightfully that the town would fall into ISIL’s hands. Why does Erdogan prefer ISIL to YPG? Because AKP and ISIL share the same ideology: Islamofascism. And their common enemy is Kurdistan.  

Dr.Ayub Karimi holds a Ph.D in Political Philosophy from Tehran, Iran.
Dr. Karimi can be contacted via email at 

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