"Compared to Iran, which has had a long relationship with Iraq's largest community, the Sh'ia, Turkey cannot claim any influence over any of the groups in Iraq except for a segment of the Turkmen, specifically the ITF."
~ Henri Barkey.
~ Henri Barkey.
There's another blog by a Kurd in the US that I came across today. It appears to be written by a Bakûrî, and can be checked out at Kurdistan.
NPR has report today on the situation between the Ankara regime and the Southern Kurds. Runtime almost 5 minutes.
The height of absurdity is that the Ankara regime is complaining about the deaths of 10 Mehmetciks in the last few days and the absurdity is that if the Ankara regime stopped its operations against the HPG, no one would die. Naturally, the continued sacrifice of Turkish youth is the least of Buyukanit's concerns and we know for a fact it's the least of Erdogan's concerns, as reported last September here and here. Specifically, Buyukanit responded, before the fact, to protests by mothers of dead Mehmetciks by insisting "that there would be no change to the system of military service."
Erdogan's attitude is summed up thusly:
Turkish media on Tuesday attacked the prime minister for comments he made about soldiers killed in battle with Kurdish rebels that commentators considered flippant.
"It's not okay, Mr. Tayyip," the daily Vatan said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments Monday during a speech in the western town of Balikesir, during which he was interrupted by a member of the audience who screamed "We don't want any more martyrs!"
Erdogan heard the shout and stopped his speech to respond. "Military service isn't the place to lay down and unwind," he said. "Military service has risks. It is not a touristic place."
Prior to Turkish frustration reaching critical mass, PKK offered a democratic, political solution to end the fighting, including the following points:
The framework for the steps that need to be developed mutually in the second phase for a permanent solution:
1- The acknowledgement of the Kurdish identity and the constitutional guarantee of all identities under the identity of a Citizen of Turkey as the main identity,
2- The lifting of obstacles on the development of the Kurdish language and culture, the acknowledgement of education in the mother tongue and Kurdish acknowledged as the official second language alongside Turkish in the Kurdistan region, and with this to show respect to other minority cultures,
3- The acknowledgement, on the basis of freely practicing politics and organizing, of the right to thought, belief and freedom of expression, the lifting of all social inequalities in the constitution and laws, firstly being those of gender discrimination,
4- A social reconciliation project with the aim of mutual forgiveness of both people’s for the development of a peace and freedom union, on this basis the release of political prisoners including the PKK Leadership, and no obstacles to them participating in politics and social life,
5- The removal of forces in Kurdistan there for the purposes of special war, the abolition of the village guard system and the necessary social and political projects to be developed for the return of displaced villagers,
6- In parallel to the realization of the above articles, the initiation, with a timetable determined by both parties, of the gradual disarmament and legal participation into the democratic social life.
Note also that any continued talk of "separatism" is a function of Turkish propaganda, as the statement concludes with the following:
We would like as a movement to emphasize once again that the right solution is a democratic autonomy within the borders of Turkey. We believe that a solution in the unity of Turkey will be for the benefit of firstly the Kurdish people and all the people of the region.
Emphasizing "once again," meaning that this statement is a repetition of PKK's position. How does a search for a political solution "in the unity of Turkey" equate to separatism? Unless you're a Turkish fascist or you're stupid enough to believe Turkish propaganda. This is the solution that both the Ankara and Washington regimes rejected, along with the fifth unilateral PKK ceasefire, and all this for one very cynical reason: to continue to make money off a very long-running low-intensity conflict, as the appointment of Lockheed Martin's Joseph Ralston proved.
If the Southern Kurdish leadership were serious about the situation of Kurds under Turkish occupation, if they were truly concerned about the genocide that the Ankara regime, with the assistance of the Washington regime, has carried out against the Kurdish people in the North, they would have taken every opportunity to press both issues--that of the democratic resolution and that of the ceasefire. They would have demanded the resignation of Lockheed's Ralston and they would have clamored for an honest broker to be appointed as "special envoy" to coordinate a peace process, instead of coordinating Turkish procurement of more Lockheed Martin hardware.
On the other hand, it might be bit difficult, not to mention embarrassing, to cut Lockheed Martin out of the loop, since it is the corporation that is involved in the US foreign policy decision-making process.
Even Qubad Talabanî is busily trying to usurp the leadership of Northern Kurds by ignoring and bypassing them while speaking of his "Turkish brothers" and pledging his undying love for them:
Kubad Talabani, who is Iraqi President Jelal Talabani's son, also noted the importance of economic relations between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds: “All we seek is a reciprocation of our affection, reciprocation of that brotherly relationship where Turkey continues to help Kurdistan's economic development. Hundreds of Turkish companies have been party to Kurdistan's development. We have seen what a good and solid relationship can do for your economy and for ours.”
He sounds exactly like every other ulusalci on the planet and it is despicable. Throughout that entire article, there is not one mention of the PKK's democratic resolution, no pointing out the fact of total rejection of the ceasefire, not a hint that Qubad knows anything of the recent severe repression of the only legal Kurdish party in Turkey--the DTP.
Yet another opportunity to press the reality of the Kurdish situation under Turkish repression wasted--and all for filthy lucre.
More absurdity lies in the fact that the Ankara regime has been meddling in Kerkuk since their first opportunity to do so, in April, 2003. They meddled again, in July, 2003. Turkish meddling in Kerkuk began during the period of the so-called safe haven, when the Southern Kurds began to govern themselves, from Henri Barkey:
As part of its campaign to contain the contagion effects of the Iraqi Kurds, Ankara increasingly came to rely on Iraq's Turkmen minority. The Turkmen issue is relatively new to Turkey; it was not until the 1990s that Ankara began to articulate demands for Turkmen minority rights in Iraq. Arguing that the Turkmen represent the third largest ethnic group in Iraq, Ankara has taken up the banner for their defense, especially their claims to control the city of Kirkuk.8 As part of this effort, Turkey has been instrumental in the creation of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), an organization it wants the Turkmen to rally around. Yet the Turkmen are divided: Not only are there those who oppose Ankara's interference and the ITF's heavy hand, but there are also sectarian Sunni-Shiite differences that divide the community.9 Perhaps as many as half of the Iraqi Turkmen are Shiite.
[ . . . ]
Previous governments in Ankara were the primary instigators behind the creation of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, but it is unclear how much influence the government now has over the ITF. Two developments have contributed to the current uncertainty.
First, the ITF and its leaders have succeeded in capturing the imagination of many Turks; they are increasingly perceived in Turkey as an Iraqi Turkish minority deserving of official help, and by making claims similar to those of the Turkish Cypriots, ITF leaders are insinuating themselves into the Turkish mainstream. For the ITF leaders, the current chaos in Iraq is the best possible opportunity to stake their claims and try to improve their status as a separate and important ethnic minority; the ITF is no different than any other ethnopolitical entrepreneur. Hence, when the U.S. assault on the mostly Turkmen city of Tel Afer occurred in September 2004, the ITF launched an information campaign in Turkey that accused the U.S. of committing "massacres and ethnic cleansing" against the Turkmen in the city. Accounts of massive civilian casualties were widely reported in Turkish media outlets and forced the Turkish government to adopt a hard stance against Washington.14 Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul even cautioned that, should the U.S. military operation continue, Turkey's relations with Washington would have to be reviewed.15
[ . . . ]
Whereas the government was on solid ground with the country's political mainstream when it pursued the EU accession negotiations, the war in Iraq and the Turkmen question have revealed the deep nationalistic bent of the party. The Erdogan government has been forced to cater to hard-line elements by increasing the level of the rhetoric over Kirkuk, the Turkmen' demands, and Iraq's January 30 elections.18 The ITF fared poorly in the elections, however, thereby diminishing both its influence and Turkey's room to maneuver in Iraq. The ITF garnered 0.87 percent of the 8.5 million votes cast, managing to get only three of its members elected into the 275-person National Assembly. The ITF's poor showing sparked severe criticism in Turkey, and both Erdogan and Gul criticized the ITF leadership for failing to bring its voters to the polls.19
[ . . . ]
The second reason for the uncertainty surrounding the Turkish government's influence over Iraq's Turkmen is the relationship between the Turkish military and the ITF, which is ambiguous. As a result, the extent to which the Turkish government can exercise operational control over the ITF is unclear. The ITF operates in tandem with Turkish Special Forces in Iraq, which are there with U.S. cognizance.20 The Turkish Special Forces have been operating under a 1996 National Security Council Special Political Document that gives the chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS) the authority to coordinate all of Turkey's activities relating to Iraq and northern Iraq, including the Special Forces. Accordingly, the Turkish Foreign Minsitry also has its representatives assigned to the TGS headquarters in Silopi, southeastern Turkey.
[ . . . ]
Compared to Iran, which has had a long relationship with Iraq's largest community, the Sh'ia, Turkey cannot claim any influence over any of the groups in Iraq except for a segment of the Turkmen, specifically the ITF.
These are the two points that should be brought up by the Southern Kurdish leadership at every opportunity, including media opportunities: First, the Ankara regime's repression of its internal colony Kurdistan, its rejection of PKK's democratic solution and ceasefire, and its continued repression and refusal to engage in dialog with DTP; second, the specifics of the Ankara regime's meddling in Iraqi internal affairs--something Turkey would never tolerate for itself--especially over the Kerkuk issue, since it is the real issue.
By the way, if the former Turkish ambassador speaking in the NPR report thinks that his claim to invade "Iraq" to pursue "terrorists" at will would be an imitation of US policy and, therefore, legitimate, he should consider that the rest of the world views Operation Iraqi Freedom as illegal according to international law.
Hell, even Richard Perle, the Darth Vadar of the neocon movement, admitted as much way back in November, 2003.