"PKK has 24 years of war experience and all the regional powers came to defeat it; however, they could not. PKK has passed its exam."
~ Bahoz Erdal, HPG Headquarters Commander.
~ Bahoz Erdal, HPG Headquarters Commander.
Here's a short interview with HPG Headquarters Commander Bahoz Erdal, on the recent American-Turkish attacks in the Medya Defense Zones:
On the 16th of December, the Turkish army conducted an air strike. The Turkish media claimed that a large number of gerilas were killed. What can you say about this?
For a long time there were preparations for such attacks. Through [Turkish] propaganda and the media, preparations had been made for these attacks. Whenever it gets stuck against our forces in the resistance, as a pretext, the Turkish army targets South Kurdistan and the regions in which we reside. Both Turkish officials and Turkish media showed the people that if there were an attack against South Kurdistan and the Medya Defense Zones, then the PKK would completely perish and the question would be solved. They had great expectations in this attack. They made everyone focus here and motivated people for a possible attack.
This attack was made by more than 50 aircraft. This attack was implemented with the clear support of the US. After this attack, the statements of the Turkish General Staff and Turkish media was showing as if they had come and hit us, as if we had serious casualties, and as if we were in a weak position. They tried to show it as if it were a successful attack, a successful, unique attack that destroyed us remarkably and took us a couple of years back. All these things are lies and very far from the truth. As the statement that we made on the first day, 5 guerrillas were martyred and 3 friends were wounded. Except for this, we had no other losses.
What are the reasons that the Turkish army and media twist the truth?
The goal is as follows: One, the Turkish army could not be successful in North Kurdistan by suffering serious casualties and meeting severe resistance by our guerrillas. For that reason, this demoralized the psychology of the troops, the army, and the state. In order to break down that demoralization, they had to give a response. They wanted to make it happen with this attack; however, they could not succeed in this recent attack as well. For that reason, they want to cover this. They are trying to show a very unsuccessful thing as if it were very successful; they are trying to cover their weakness and failure.
The other goal is the civilian villagers in South Kurdistan who had been targeted and destroyed. It is known that two civilians were killed, that there were numerous wounded, many houses collapsed, hundreds of animals died, and schools destroyed. Hospitals were damaged. The martyrdom of our comrades, who died in this attack, were the targets of the attack. These are the concrete results of the attack. With these, actually the reality of the attack is revealed. Firstly, this attack was not successful. Secondly, the aim of this attack was not PKK, as they claim. The aim is the Kurdish people. This could be either PKK guerrillas or a villager from South Kurdistan. It is clearly revealed in this way. They are insistently trying to hide this reality. For that reason, they desperately need to lie. It is very strange when we listen to the Turkish media; Our friends [guerrillas] who lived through the attack here are laughing at them. However, the people who do not know the reality of our struggle--and Turkey's reality--who look at these incidents from outside, think that the world has collapsed [from this attack].
What can you say about the attitude of the Southern Kurdistan authority for the people and the animals who were killed as a result of the bombing?
The attitude of South Kurdistan's political forces against the cross-border legislation in the TBMM was a correct attitude that served the Kurdish people. This attitude was strengthening them, too, however they stepped back. A different approach occurred and this new approach brought suspicion among all the Kurds against them. As a result, the suspicion creates a reaction in the people. This new attitude is harming the unity of the Kurdish democratic national movement. The strengthening of the Kurdish democratic national movement means their strengthening and empowers their hand. If the South Kurdistan federal government wants to survive--wants to be defended--this is only possible with the creation of a Kurdish national attitude. If the Kurdish federal government does not see the interests of all Kurdistan, but narrows itself down to South Kurdistan's boundaries, it will drown. We say that this fact must be realized. There are some Kurdish politicians, however, who did not even say anything about these attacks. They [the Turks] attacked your territory, destroyed your villages, martyred your people--there is no voice coming from them. They have shut their eyes and ears as if saying, "We did not see or hear anything." The reactions against the operation are not sufficient and they are late. The step back after the cross-border legislation encouraged Turkey. Now Turkey is thinking, "So then, if I blackmail, if I suppress, I will get a result."
But the reality is that the Turkish government does not trust South Kurdistan's political forces as well. Even if KDP and PUK fight with Turkey against us, the Turkish government and army will not trust in them. A national and stable attitude with strengthen them and allow them to breathe. They mustn't be afraid of it. If the Southern Kurdish political forces stay within their own boundaries and cannot see or realize their own responsibilities for Kurdistan in general, they will lose in two ways. The first is that they will lose the Kurdish people, because the Kurdish people will no longer accept neither the fight between brothers nor the interests of only one piece of Kurdistan as superior to the rest. Neither the Kurdish people in general, nor the Southern Kurdish people, will accept this. Our people know the reality now. The second reason is that the international forces can do anything for their own interests. Turkey, Iran, or the US do not have anything to give them at that point. They will lose that side, too. Thus, they will lose both sides. As a result, we say that a proper stance is national and principled, and a stance that seeks the general good of the Kurds in the region would be the correct. Iraqi Kurdistan might be an experiment for this. This is not a weakness for the Kurdistan federal government; on the contrary, it would become strong. This is a reality. For that reason we say that the daily stance and attitudes of hesitation, which lack long-term planning, will only encourage the enemies of the Kurdish people. This will also harm the general freedom struggle of the Kurdish people.
In this war, the attitude of the US becomes important. How do you see the support of the US to Turkey?
This attack has been accomplished with the direct help of the US. During a one month period prior to the attack, US reconnaissance aircraft flew over the region. Opening Iraqi air space, providing intelligence and technical assistance enabled this attack. In that sense, the US is not outside of this attack. The attitude of the US is the attitude of choosing a side in this war. If their attitude continues, we, the Kurdish people, will not accept this. However, it needs to be said that this is not a new thing that the US is helping Turkey. The US has assisted Turkey during 24 years of the war by intelligence, weapons, and politically. Basically it is not new that the US assists Turkey. Yaşar Büyükanıt says, "My happiest day is today; I can sleep comfortably." This is your weakness, you pathetic thing. This shows how weak, how unfortunate you are. The US gave intelligence, opened your way. What did you do? You attacked, then what? What did you gain? The US is not helping you recently; it has helped you for 24 years. All the operations within these 24 years, the US explicitly provided intelligence and political and economic assistance to the Turkish government. Even the international conspiracy [against Öcalan] was orchestrated by the US. Despite all these facts, have you won this war, have you annihilated the PKK guerrilla--the Kurdish guerrilla? Have you implemented the promise that you've always repeated, that is "We will always fight until the last guerrilla?" No. You couldn't. The people who said as you did, couldn't either, but the Kurdish guerrilla remained, the Kurdish movement continued and grew. Today's people will also go, but the guerrillas still will remain and will grow more. Like with these recent attacks, they are trying to convince people with imaginary victories. Otherwise, what else can the US do? Did the US reconnaissance aircraft, satellites, get rid of the problems in Iraq's valleys? Did they bring an end to the losses in Afghanistan, that you are saying you would annihilate PKK with their intelligence? Let's say this: no one can dominate the Kurdish region with their satellites. Thus, let them have their reconnaissance activities. We do not have cities or villages to be cowed. We are guerrillas. Like a snake, we neither have a place to live nor have a house. The Kurdish mountains are rugged. No matter how many reconnaissance aircraft and satellites they have, they will not be able to dominate the guerrilla movement. For that reason, we are saying that they created big hopes, or imaginary victories, for no other reason than to get rid of their psychological weakness.
After the Turkish army's air strike, they wanted to access the Medya Defense Zones by land. What can you say about this?
That's right, that the Turkish army wanted to make attacks on the Geliye Reş region, in Xakurkê. That's all that it was about. It was just an attempt. It was the same as in the Oramar resistance. There, besides defending themselves, our forces also struck them. Thus, from now on, these things are possible. These are not new things in the South. They say that there were 24 operations, but this is not right. Within the period of the struggle, they had more than 100 operations against our Southern Kurdistan forces. They have made all kinds of operations, from the smallest operations to the biggest operations ever in the history of the Turkish Republic. Air strikes and artillery shelling are the kinds of attacks we've seen previously. We also saw their results. They might, from now on, have big or small operations. We are, however, ready to confront all kinds of operations. For all circumstances, we also have various resistance plans. Because we are determined and are technically and educationally prepared, we are completely ready for possible further operations. Even though there might be further air strikes and land operations, there is nothing for them to win. On the contrary, the only excuse they [Turkey] had was "I cannot cope with the North [Kurdistan] because they [the guerrillas] are coming from Southern Kurdistan. My hands are tied. They [the US] don't let me go to Southern Kurdistan. If they had let me, I would finish all of them." Now they have untied your hands and you entered Northern Iraq. Then what, what did you do? Now with what excuses are they going to cover their failure? There is nothing. On the one hand, this operation was good because they don't have that excuse any more. If the US frees their hands, they will come and swallow all of us and take the rest. And now you came, what did you do? Fiasco. For that reason, even if they implement these kinds of operations they will have more losses here than in Northern Kurdistan. Everyone must know this. This will deepen the war and harm everyone. This war will not be limited only to Turkey, but will harm everyone. Everyone must realize this. PKK has 24 years of war experience and all the regional powers came to defeat it; however, they could not. PKK has passed its exam. Once more they are trying to attempt the same thing with their weaker position and under different conditions now. To us, it is an empty endeavor.
[Note: for some ideas about a "national and principled" stance that serves the good of all Kurdistan, see the recent post at Rastbêj, "Cooperate or Die".]