Old Games and New Tactics against the Kurds Continue: Who is Supporting the PKK and to What End?
Kurdishaspect.com - By Dr. Aland Mizell
Leo Tolstoy astutely described the effects of patriotism,” The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches, and the press. In the schools, they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press. Above all, they inflame patriotism in this way: perpetrating every kind of harshness and injustice against other nations, they provoke in them enmity towards their own people, and then in turn exploit that enmity to embitter their people against the foreigner.”[i] It seems nothing has changed in Ankara. Instead of examining the causes of the problem and trying to understand why the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has increased its use of violence now, Ankara, as usual, has developed a conspiracy theory blaming foreign powers. But why really did the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gulenists finally decide to bomb the Kandil Mountains? Is it really that the military offensive followed a series of attacks by the outlawed PKK that claimed the lives of more than 30 soldiers in the last month and an attack in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Cukurca district on Wednesday that killed eight soldiers and one village guard and caused the widespread public anger? Even Turkey expects to declare full-scale war, but why now? Could this be pre-planned by the Turkish government? If not, why then does the Turkish government not hang Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK former leader? Who is using Ocalan and to what end?
These are not new games; there are old games and new tactics continued to be played against the Kurds. The problem with the Kurds is that they easily forget. Instead of the Iraqi Kurdish leader becoming more dependent on the Turks, the Kurds reject colonialism but let Gulenists open schools to educate their children about how great the Turks are and that the Turks are people chosen by an Almighty God. The rationale for the recent month’s escalation and Turkey’s declaring war on the Kurds is different than previous ones for many reasons. Turkey well knows that the next Arab Spring is Tehran, and Iran knows well the developments in Syria are not good news for them.. The AKP will not defend Tehran, like the party did not defend Syria; so the AKP does not want to be handicapped and does not want Iran to use the PKK‘s card against Turkey again like they did in the past. The prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki is very supportive of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. Ankara wants Bashar al-Asad gone. Turkey is nervous about Iran and Syria since they could use the Kurdish card against Ankara. Iran is supporting Syria, but Turkey is against Syria. Even though Iran and Turkey cooperated against the PKK, Iran will not stand by and watch while Turkey undermines Syria. The crisis in Syria will have a major effect on Turkey‘s zero policy in the region. Turkish foreign policy is also facing big challenges. Its “zero problems with neighbors” sounds good, but soon the administration will have big problems. Turkey’s struggle for regional power may suffer a set back if America leaves the region and a huge security gap occurs. If Iraq becomes increasingly divided, the fighting in the region will escalate and will result in greater fragmentation, which could affect Turkey. To have a reason to defend their people from the PKK attacks, the Turkish government is far from wishing for peace, but instead is carefully inciting the anger of the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) and the Kurds against themselves and, having excited Kurds’ anger against themselves and stirred up the patriotism of Turks, then the Turkish government assures its people that it is in danger and must be defended. The Kurdish question is one of the main problems of the country and for Turkey to become a regional power.
The hypocrisy over killing innocent people is not coincidental in any way. Any terrorist action, whether by the PKK or by the Turkish military, no matter who does it and for what purpose, is the greatest threat to humanity and peace in the region. I condemn both sides because it costs the lives of many innocent people. I do personally believe that the Turkish government sincerely is trying neither to solve the Kurdish problem nor to instate any democratic peace process. In 1992, Erdogan famously declared that democracy is a vehicle which you ride as far as you want to go, not the aim. “Once we reach the destination, we will get off of the vehicle.”[ii] If they really want to solve the Kurdish problem, they will talk to the BDP party and negotiate with them; if they think that the BDP is the main cause of the problem or if they think the PKK is the main problem, then they should talk to them. If Erdogan is interested in democratic peace and wants to solve the Kurdish problem with democratic means, then he should not discuss the issues behind closed doors without inviting any Kurdish representatives. Every aspect of Kurdish concerns should be discussed openly not behind closed door with the Turks because such clandestine discussions did not work in the past, and they will not work in the near future. For Turkey to achieve such a victory, the Turkish government will use all kinds of tactics, slander, and games and is reviewing different experiments including the Sri Lankan experiment where the government moves to full scale war. Turkey will use this war after Ramazan.
Another reason the Turkish government is not sincere about solving the Kurdish problem is because Erdogan looks at the Kurdish problem from the standpoint of Turkey’s security rather than from one of social, political, and cultural rights. Thus, recent PKK violence has been used as a kind of catalyst for the Turkish government to aim for regional dominance and hegemonic power. The main obstacle for Turkey to become the hegemonic power is the PKK, so that is why the Turkish government will do anything to bring the PKK from the mountains, but other than for that reason, they are not interested in the Kurdish problem. Gulenists and the AKP usefully presented an operation as a step to solve the PKK issue, both domestic and internationally.
The PKK is not just the main obstacle for the Turkish government, but also the main obstacle for Gulenists’ ideology being solely dominant in the region. Granted, they did make some changes, but that does not mean that the AKP is really trying to solve the Kurdish problem. The Prime Minister declared in his speech in Diyarbakir in 2005, “We do not accept that there is a Kurdish problem; we do accept that we have done injustice to the Kurds in the past; the big governments take responsibility for their wrong doing and should correct it.”[iii] But today he forgot about and even denied saying that in Turkey we do not have a Kurdish question, but we have a PKK problem. Yet, we have social, economic and cultural problems. Defining the Kurdish question and separating it from the PKK also shows signs that the AKP, like his predecessors, is not interested in the peace process and does not care about the Kurdish problem, for example when Prime Minister Erdogan stated that there is no Kurdish question but there is a PKK problem. On the other hand, so many intellectuals, including Cengiz Candar, who did an extensive study on the Kurds, think that the Kurdish question and the PKK question cannot be separated because they are interconnected and should be dealt with together. I do not think the Turkish government really wants to have any peace plan. Erdogan never considered the 36 Kurdish MPs elected to the Turkish Parliament by the more than two and half million Kurds. Erdogan continued to marginalize them, so that the BDP peace will never happen. Erdogan and Gulenists want the Kurdish issue to be disentangled according to their way and not what the Kurds want. That is the main problem because Gulenists believe they are the God-chosen people and, therefore, they know the best way and the only truth, so that the Kurds should listen to them. Gulenists and the AKP want Kurds to have the Ottoman version of a semi- autonomous region. Before they grant that, they want to make sure Gulenists have enough Kurdish-background-followers who will glorify Gulen’s name there and will defend his ideology in the region. Ankara wants to make sure it has a strong central government with a presidential system, so that the autonomous region will still depend on Ankara even though they will have their own Kurdish autonomous government in the region.
Erdogan and Gulenists should stop flip-flopping because the lives of the Kurds are sacred. In the West and the USA, Gulenists are known as the guru of Interfaith Dialogues, the champion of peace, and the savior of humanity, but when it comes to the Kurds, it is ok to kill them; it is ok not to have a dialogue with the Kurds. In the west Gulenists and AKP insist that God Almighty declares that killing an innocent person unjustly is like killing all of mankind and that saving a person’s life is like saving all of mankind. According to Islamic ethics, if a boat is carrying ten criminals and one innocent person, Islam does not allow the ship to be sunk just to punish the criminals, for doing so would violated the rights of the innocent person. If Islam orders peace and demands from each true Muslim that he or she should be a symbol of peace and support the maintenance of essential human rights, then they should maintain Kurdish rights as well. Kurdish lives are also sacred, not just Turkish lives. Let’s say hypothetically that the PKK are not innocent and are bad people, but that there are innocent people who live in the targeted area. Reports already show that more than 7 civilians got killed during Turkey’s recent bombing in the Kurdish region. Addressing Israel’s leaders from a public rally in Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan said in Turkish and English: “You shall not kill,” and went on admonishing Israel, “You still don’t get it? Then I shall speak to you in your language: Lo tir’ tsach.” The Prime Minister referred to the Sixth of the Ten Commandments. Please Prime Minister; you are representing chosen people and a great nation. Stop flip-flopping. The Kurdish people are also chosen by God and deserve good and decent lives. Tolstoy said;” If people would but understand that they are not the sons of some fatherland or other, nor of Governments, but are sons of God, and can therefore neither be slaves nor enemies one to another- those insane, unnecessary, worn-out, pernicious organizations called Governments, and all the sufferings, violations, humiliations, and crimes which they occasion, would cease.”[iv]
[i] Leo Tolstoy. Patriotism and Government. May 10, 1900.
[ii] Hurriyet Daily News, April 18, 2011
[iv] Tolstoy, p. 38.