Sunday, December 30, 2007


"And I cannot find words to describe the heroism of the millions of Kurds living in the dungeon in the Southeast, after having suffered some of the worst atrocities of the 1990s thanks to the enormous arms flow provided by the Clinton administration and the discipline of the educated classes, who hailed the atrocious international terrorism as a model of 'counterterrorism'."
~ Noam Chomsky.

The "worthy" and "unworthy" victims of the Propaganda Model proposed by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman reinforces the "good" Kurd-"bad" Kurd dichotomy of Kevin McKiernan. The news here is that the dichotomy is alive and well in the US media today, according to Anthony DiMaggio at Counterpunch:

American media reports have at times acknowledged Turkish human rights abuses. However, Turkish repression is never framed as terrorism. In addition, Turkish repression of Kurds is presented as a relatively minor setback in the grand scheme of U.S. and European relations with Turkey, as opposed to Saddam Hussein's repression of Iraqi Kurds, which is consistently presented as a major human rights tragedy.

[ . . . ]

Efforts to distinguish between worthy victims (Iraqi Kurds) and unworthy ones (Turkish Kurds) have been somewhat altered, however, in recent years. By 2007, attacks on Iraqi Kurds had also become acceptable in the U.S. media, so long as the aggressor was the Turkish government, rather than Saddam Hussein. The U.S. granted tactical and diplomatic support to the government of Turkey as it bombed various Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, allegedly aimed at PKK rebel targets. Despite reports of civilian deaths, American editorials lent moral support to the Turkish government. The editors at the New York Times postured that "Turkey's anger is understandable. Guerillas from the PKK have been striking from bases in Iraqi Kurdistan with growing impunity and effect. The death toll for Turkish military forces is mounting."

Editors at the New York Times placed responsibility for the violence primarily upon the shoulders of the Kurds, rather than Turkish leaders, as they argued that "The Kurds will find it much easier to prosper if they can live in peace with Turkey." How such cooperation is possible in light of Turkey's systematic human rights violations was not addressed. The paper's editors also portrayed the U.S. as an honest broker between the two sides, rather than a consistent supporter of Turkish repression of the Kurds: "Washington must now try to walk both sides back from this brink. It then should make a serious and sustained effort to broker a long-overdue political agreement between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan." The editors at the Washington Post also presented the conflict through a pro-Turkish lens. Significant attention was directed to pragmatic assessments of the effectiveness of a Turkish political victory over Kurdish rebels: "The reality is that the PKK threat cannot be quickly eliminated by military means. Neutralizing it will require closer cooperation between Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish authorities, more effective Turkish military operations inside Turkey, and more political reforms in both countries."

This case study is instructive in one important respect: it suggests that American media attention to the repression and terror of foreign countries is not driven by legitimate humanitarian concerns, but by the strength of the alliance between the U.S. and the country in question.

Chomsky and Herman's work, Manufacturing Consent, provides a powerful tool--the Propaganda Model--for reading news, whether in the US or in Turkey. In fact, the Turkish government found the book so dangerous that it brought charges of "insulting Turkishness" and "inciting ethnic hostilities and hatred among the population" against Aram Publishing House for translating the book into Turkish.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you want to understand how the media works, you need to read Manufacturing Consent.

Rastî readers will remember Gordon Taylor who's written about the PKK at Progressive Historians. He's got something up at History News Network on Turkey's $20 million sheep-killing fiasco.

Hevallo liked last week's video of HPG air defense units that he went out and found another video, from RojTV, which he's posted, and he refers to the Paşas' current propaganda campaign as "Turkish army psycho lies. . . " I don't know, do you think that's enough to qualify him for charges under Article 301 for "insulting Turkishness?"

Martin Zehr responds to neocon Michael Rubin's latest trash piece in the NYTimes:

Mr. Rubin suggests: “U.S. officials should threaten isolation and a cessation of all financial assistance until Mr. Barzani ceases his safe haven.” Mr. Rubin might pay more attention to the U.S. military aid to Turkey, as a source of the problem. “As a member of NATO and Washington’s ally in the war on terrorism, Turkey is the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, behind Israel and Egypt. Between 1994 and 2004, it received well over $1.3 billion in FMF and another $21.4 million in IMET.[224] Congress granted another $33 million in FMF and $4 million in IMET in 2005. The President’s request for 2006 is more modest-- $25 million in FMF and $3 million in IMET.”

Suggesting as he does that there is an implicit alliance between President Barzani and the PKK in Iraq Mr. Rubin establishes a weak case. He states: “During its Oct. 21 attack on Turkish troops, PKK tactics mirrored those taught by U.S. Special Forces to Mr. Barzani's peshmerga fighters, suggesting its complicity in training terrorists.” Taken on its face, it presents little documentation in making in its case. But considering the ramifications of such statements, it presents Turkey with a virtual blank check in regards to attacks on the government of the KRG and the territory of the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

Rubin's claim that PKK received US Special Forces training through KDP peşmêrge overlooks the fact that PKK is a highly experienced guerrilla force and that it spent the years of the 1999-2005 ceasefire fruitfully, by implementing changes in HPG's tactics, and training to achieve that end:

The HPG officials said that the TAF has been unsuccessful in its operations and that the HPG’s new way of actions on the basis of small groups of guerrillas with active and high action capacity led to TAF’s classical operation tactic to be in vain.

HPG officials said that as a result of this new way of action, TAF (Turkish Army Forces) had difficulties in “imposing clashes on the guerrilla under its initiative” and that the TAF military troops have become an open target for the guerrilla teams who have spread well into the territory.

[ . . . ]

HPG officials said that this was “a reflection of the strategic changes made” and that the military strategy changed accordingly”. They underlined that “actions undertaken were no longer to establish free areas” but “to force the other side to a resolution”.

They also added that guerrilla losses, as a result, decreased in comparison with past years, but the TAF’s losses increased due to a change in guerrilla movement.

Note that this evaluation is dated May 2005. I guess Rubin can't swallow the fact that PKK has not been trained by anyone but PKK, while the TSK--particularly the Special Teams--were trained by US special operations forces. See Martin Zehr's figures on IMET aid to Turkey, as mentioned in his article and linked above. Remember, IMET is conducted by US special operations types, which have a history of spreading severe human rights abuses wherever they go. See something from US Senator Leahy on that.

More on the fallout from the joint US-Turkish air strikes against Kurdish civilians:

Since Turkish warplanes turned her village home into a heap of rubble last week, mother of eight Aziya Rasheed says she has lost all hope for the future.

Air strikes on mountain villages around the town of Sankasar in northern Iraq on Dec. 16 destroyed much of Rasheed's modest home as the family slept, injuring her 16-year-old daughter so severely that she had to have her leg amputated above the knee.

"We lost everything, even my daughter's leg. Isn't this terrorism from Turkey?" she said angrily.

[ . . . ]

Shlier Khudhur, a 30-year-old woman now living with her brother, sobs as she recalls the night she lost her home.

"I was wounded when the house fell on top of us during the air strikes. We have lost everything we ever owned," she said.

"I wish I had died rather than live through this."

Don't forget, Kurdistan: Erdoğan and Büyükanıt are your brothers in religion. Long live the ummah that has always defended the Kurdish people! Not.

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