Saturday, December 31, 2005


“The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives in the dark.” ~ Jack Anderson.

I noticed Vladimir posted an entry on his blog, From Holland to Kurdistan about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy, which is high on my list of personal aggravations. I was going to post some comments to his entry, but as I started to write I felt myself making the change from comment mode to hyper-rant mode and, since I don't believe in trespassing onto someone else's cyber-property in order to vandalize it with my own rant, unless invited, I'll let my adrenaline flow out here instead. Prepare yourself for the following rant by reading Vladimir's post first.

Is the American University Foreign Policy Association and the United Nations Association- National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) Young Professionals for International Cooperation–Middle East Committee, only now finding out about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy? Were they operating from a position of total ignorance before or did they simpy accept, without question, the moral relativity of Kurds vis-a-vis their usefulness to American foreign policy? I can scarcely believe I am reading this.

The U.S. reasoned that Ankara was doing what it had to do, and the fact that Turkey was using American-supplied arms to do so was not seen as a problem.

Please, spare me the vast understatement! Not only was the use of American-supplied arms not seen as a problem, on the contrary, it was seen as a huge benefit to the American economy. The US has been more than happy to keep the blood-money flowing during this perverse little exercise in free-market capitalism. Now that Turkey has toned down it's gargantuan appetite for American-made toys, we see the heads of the FBI, CIA and American-Turkish Council (ATC), and their entire entourages, running to Ankara in a series of visits that must have had the local hoteliers falling all over themselves to accomodate the guests of the Turkish state in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Certainly it is not the same manner to which the Kurds under Turkish-occupation are accustomed.

The membership list of the ATC reads like a Who's Who of corporate America, with the defense industry prominently represented: Bechtel, Boeing, General Atomics, General Dynamics, GE, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Textron, United Defense and United Technologies/Sikorsky. Those are the corporations that have filled their coffers by soaking Kurdistan with Kurdish blood. Other corporate members include: Archer Daniels MIdland, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Frito Lay, Hyatt, Pepsi, Pfizer and Shell.

Does anyone have any idea of what the CEOs of some of defense industry corporations earn? Take a look at an article from CorpWatch, which shows that in the US, The Biggest Bucks on the Planet Go to Defense Industry CEOs. It might be surprising to see many of the corporations that made the membership list of the ATC also made the list of examples in that article. On the other hand, maybe it isn't so surprising, but it will give us an idea of just how valuable a commodity Kurdish blood is.

The ATC has non-corporate sponsors as well, including: the American Enterprise Institute, JINSA, the Brookings Institution, the Eisenhower Institute, the Nixon Center. Interestingly enough, the America-Georgia Business Development Council and the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, among others, are members too. Can anyone say "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline?"

What was at the heart of all these top-level meetings that were the source of a feeding frenzy in the Turkish media? Anyone reading the news reports, especially from a Turkish perspective, noticed that the heart of the matter was all those millions of Bad Kurds, epitomized by three little letters--PKK. Is it any coincidence that a couple of weeks before, Turkey publicly made itself look like the totalitarian state it truly is by attempting to bully Denmark over Roj TV, and that it got an even bigger bully, the US, to help it in its efforts to kill the right of free expression? Or that it compounded its image abroad as an enemy of free expression by the Orhan Pamuk fiasco? Turkey also endured the embarrassment of the Şemzîn (Şemdinli) bombing, in which incompetent Turkish intelligence types were once again caught sowing terror in North Kurdistan, which blame they subsequently hoped to pin on all those Bad Kurds, especially PKK. But, horror of horrors! All those Bad Kurds protested and got the attention of the EU.


We can bet that "Turkish human rights abuses such as scorched-earth policies, torture and forced migration," were never a subject for discussion with the American intelligence chiefs, even though it was those very same policies that created PKK, and Bad Kurds in general, in the first place. After all, to admit that Turkey did, in fact, engage in scorched-earth policies against the Kurdish people might be a bit too uncomfortable for the Americans, who have been enjoying a certain financial benefit from this entire program. Instead, Turkey played itself up, once again, as the eternal and innocent victim of Bad Kurds, whining to the Americans about how the War On Terror wasn't really The War On Terror® unless the source of all terror, the PKK, became America's main target.

For their part, the Americans had bigger fish to fry, namely Iran and, by extension, Syria. Speculation is that they want Turkey's help when it comes time for a military strike against Iran. Whoa! Déjà vu! When was the last time the US expected Turkish help for a military operation? Hehehe, you know what they say about one being born every minute. I mean, after the huge betrayal of one NATO ally by another in 2003, asking Turkey for help in another military operation has got to be one of the greatest acts of desperation in modern times. But, hey, maybe Brent Scowcroft and corporate America's heavyweights in the ATC can pull it off this time.

The big question is, which label will the Rojavayî and Rojhelatî be wearing in 2006? How will they serve US interests? Will these forgotten Kurds suddenly become worthy of moral relevance? Will they become Good Kurds or Bad Kurds? One thing is certain, it looks like the Bakurî will continue to sport their own label, made to fit in Ankara and Washington. Their blood will continue to grease the wheels of the Turkish Denial Machine.

Asked about the recent decline in participation within the Kurdish movement, Xulam speculated that one reason might be Turkey’s unwillingness to negotiate. “Turkey to this day hasn’t really taken the Kurds seriously,” he said.

I understand what Kani is saying here, about Turkey not taking Kurds seriously, but I think the wording is imprecise. Turkey has taken the Kurds seriously because Turkey has an interest in maintaining instability in "The Southeast." It is this instability which provides the needed cover for the Turkish government's lucrative drug-running and weapons-smuggling. It also allows Turkey to concentrate economic investment and development in the Turkish part of Turkey while leaving the Kurdish part open for resource exploitation. Instability in the Kurdish region also provides a convenient place for the Turkish military to hone its skills on an unarmed population that is forgotten and ignored by the rest of the world.

When it comes to negotiating with Kurds to achieve a peaceful settlement of the situation, that's when Turkey ignores Kurds.

The racist Turkish constitution doesn't need to be changed; it needs to be thrown on the fire and a totally new one rewritten, one that incorporates all citizens of Turkey regardless of race, creed, color, gender or ethnicity. After that happens, the educational system will have a new mandate, one stripped of the Kemalist ideology that has reinforced institutionalized racism since the founding of the republic. Finally, to make sure that everyone gets the message, a truth and justice commission must be established to document and exorcise the horrors of the past, establishing something on the order of Kanan Makiya's Documentation Project at The Iraq Memory Foundation. A possible framework for documentation could be borrowed from work done by the Kurdish Human Rights Project. Let's learn from the Armenian example and not wait for a century after the fact before everything is documented. All of it needs to come out into the open, everything, on both sides--including PKK, because as much as the Turkish state has obfuscated its own part in this ugly little drama, so it has also vilified the PKK's part.

Speaking on the American role in the conflict, Xulam noted that “there is a big gap between the expressed ideals of America, and the actual ideals of American foreign policy.”

Uh, yeah, the "big gap" would more accurately be described as a chasm, into which tens of thousands of people--or millions of people, if we count all the forcibly displaced--have been lost. The problem is that Americans don't care about their own foreign policy unless it affects them personally, as many are now affected by Iraq. Yes, the foreign policy of the US is the foreign policy of the American people--government of the people, by the people and for the people--and they must choose to educate themselves about their own foreign policy and its effect on the world, to include the influence of the corporate world on that policy. There is no better place to begin that education than here in this exquisite place of free expression known as the Internet and Kurdish bloggers are here to help with that education.

So, what are you waiting for, America? You just received your invitation.

Thanks, Vladimir. I feel much better now. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2005


"All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens the power of resistance." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the absence of any efforts by the civilized world to force the Teheran regime to behave by civilized standards, Kurdish political prisoners are taking human rights matters into their own hands:


Tehran, 30 Dec. (AKI) - Amid rising tension in Iranian Kurdistan, prisoners in Urumieh prison in western Iran are rioting over the imminent hanging of one of their fellow detainees - a Kurd named Massoud Shokkehi - and the hanging in recent days of another Kurd being held in Sagghez prison, also in Iranian Kurdistan. A total 51 Kurdish militants have been summoned to appear before the Revolutionary court in Sanandaj, accused of sedition. They face the death penalty if convicted.

On Thursday, violent protests broke out when police officers came to take Shokkehi away for execution, together with another Kurdish prisoner, Salah Mohammadi Guylani, being held in another prison. Shokkehi had been in Urumieh for nine years.

A young Iranian Kurd was hanged in Sagghez on Wednesday. Farhad Salehpour, 19, was arrested some 12 months ago and sentenced to death for killing a Islamist militiaman. A member of a separatist Kurdish group, Salepour spent eleven months in Sagghez on death row before being executed. Also on Wednesday, four more Kurds who allegedly took part in unrest earlier this year were re-arrested. They had been released conditionally earlier this month.

There have been violent protests in many cities in Iranian Kurdistan in recent months, and the situation remains tense.

While the rest of the world is still trying to come to grips with the fact that the South Kurdistanis are preparing to defend themselves against any meltdown in Iraq, this news from East Kurdistan is ignored. I wonder why? You would think that since there has been so much chatter in recent days about possible US plans for a military strike against Iran, the propaganda machine would snatch this up right away.

On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing that nobody notices, because, as bad as things are for East Kurdistan, the good news is that the people are engaged in resistance against the regime and they are getting some material support from South Kurdistan. However, the biggest commodity exported across the border is hope.

The recent round of protests in East Kurdistan began in the summer, with the regime's murder of a young Kurd activist. A decent report on the general situation in East Kurdistan, from National Public Radio can be heard here. Another interesting backgrounder from August, 2005, courtesy of Caucaz, provides more detail on the necessity of smuggling to keep the Eastern Kurds alive.

Many people will say that if only the Kurds would have settled down and accepted the status quo which was imposed on the region by outsiders after the end of WW1, everything would be fine. The enemies of Kurdistan love to speak about their brotherhood with Kurds, but what definition of brotherhood consists of the repression of one brother by the other? If any of these brotherly regimes had ever allowed Kurds equal rights in everything, in other words, if the status quo had ever been just, there would have been no need for Kurdish resistance.

The Eastern Kurds suffered three major blows to their political aspirations in the 20th century. The first was the fall of the Mahabad Republic and the execution of Qazi Mohammed. The second was the murder of Dr. Ebdulrehman Qasimlo in Vienna by the Regime of the Mullahs, and the third was the murder of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi in Berlin by Ahmedinejad, the current president of the same regime. Collectively, these three murders, over time, slammed the brakes on the Kurdish movement in the East and almost ended it. Almost, until something unimaginable happened--the fall of Saddam.

It appears that the Eastern Kurds are reviving politically, thanks to the events across the border in South Kurdistan. PJAK and PDKI were active during the summer protests and I have seen recent news reports indicating that KOMALA may also be returning to battle. With all this resurgence of political (and armed) activity in Eastern Kurdistan, why do certain elements in the American administration prefer to give their attention to Mujahedin-e Khalq, an organization that targeted and murdered American citizens in Iran in the 1970s and supported the US Embassy takeover in Teheran in 1979? If the US is looking for an opportunity to strike Iran, they could find a certain ally in East Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, back in the Urmîye prison, Kurdish prisoners continue the resistance. They don't have much to lose and it's always better to die fighting. At least, that way, you can make sure to take as many of the enemy with you as you can.

I, for one, am hoping they do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


"The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted." ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg, German physicist.

I have noticed something today that annoys me. Really annoys me. Check out the titles on these articles:

A. Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia

B. Kurds plotting to break away

C. Kurds plan to invade South

These are all the same articles, except Article B is missing the last few paragraphs. Otherwise, they are the same. Same author, same news service, same story. What's the problem?

First of all the titles. Title A is somewhat neutral. Title B and C, on the other hand, are virtual spin machines, set into motion by the keywords, "plotting" and "invade," which are not neutral by any stretch of the imagination.

Let's look at the first couple of paragraphs:

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq.

They are laying the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

Let's consider some keywords here. In the first line, we have "inserted." What does that mean? What does it sound like it means? It sounds like the treacherous Kurdish leadership is up to no good, slipping all those well-trained and experienced Kurdish fighters into the Iraqi army. Let's forget about the fact that the US has depended on Kurdish military help since before Day 1 of their excellent adventures in Iraq, to include the build-up of a reliable Iraqi army.

Let's also forget about the fact that one of the first US commanders in Mûsil, General Petraeus, arrogantly disregarded the advice of Babekir Zebarî and other leading veteran pêşmerge about the need to completely cleanse the area of the Ba'ath. Let's forget about the fact that this arrogant disregard led to the establishment of the Ba'athi/foreign fighter network that began relentlessly to murder Kurds, Christians and anyone else who got in their way. Of course, this eventually led to bigger problems after Fallujah was cleansed last November, and the Ba'athi/foreign fighters ran to Mûsil.

I certainly don't believe that Petraeus was acting on his own. He had to engage in arrogant disregard for experienced Kurdish advice on the orders of whomever it is that creates foreign policy based on US interests. The only question is one of whether the creator of this policy was the Pentagon or the State Department. My money is on the State Department because there isn't a bigger pack of Kurd-hating paranoiacs outside of Ankara. Okay, what does my use of the word "pack" mean? Trust me, it isn't neutral.

My point is that the use of the word "insert," is not correct and it leads one to believe that Kurds "infiltrated" the Iraqi army for nefarious purposes. This simply isn't true. The Kurds have cooperated with US forces from before the beginning and my use of Mûsil is just one example of this cooperation.

Second keyword is "swarm!" What swarms? Killer bees, locusts, day-after-Christmas shoppers. . . none of which are positive things. I doubt that pêşmerge are going to "swarm" into Kerkuk. Most likely, they will move in some sort of military manner, especially if they have to go in shooting.

Propaganda is very simple. All that you have to do is set the spin in the title and in the first couple of paragraphs. Then it will continue through the entire article because the spin, the feel, the tone of the article is set. In our present case, we now have something sounding like this in our reader's mind:

After treacherously inserting themselves as a fifth column within the Iraqi army, Kurds are continuing with their nefarious plans to swarm like locusts to the south and invade Kerkuk!

Are you kidding me?! Whose payroll is the author on? Ankara's? The Arab League's? Al-Qaedas? The US State Department's? Or what about the editors who wrote the creative and inflammatory titles?

Something else that gets a spin is the term "militia." Not all militias are created equal and, according to the new Iraqi constitution, not all militias are illegal or in any way negative, but are sanctioned by Iraqi law.

This article, under various titles, is being carried by hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs today. Not everyone is commenting on it, but they are carrying it, so it is somehow meaningful to them. The negative spin, from a Kurdish viewpoint, makes me wonder what kind of meaning it holds for so many people.

Do people realize that Kurds of South Kurdistan have been fighting against various Baghdad regimes since 1961? What do all these people think Kurds were fighting for? US interests? A unified Iraq? Does the US seriously expect that Kurds should simply lay down and become victims again, this time when Iraq finally, fatally cracks, and "swarms" of Arabs move north once again? Is this is the same type of mindset that opposes Kurdish use of armed resistance for any reason, usually with an argument designed to appeal to reason and level-headedness? Tell it to Helebce.

Independence is the dream. We all know there are still problems to be worked out in South Kurdistan--corruption in government, lack of infrastructure, violations of the right to free expression, as examples--but Kurds are already voicing their opinions on these topics and these things will change. Problems don't mean the dream is dead. On the contrary, the recognition of these things as problems proves that the dream is very much alive. Democracy isn't going to be easy but at least this democracy will be Kurdish.

To paraphrase a friend of mine: "Let the shit be our shit for a change, and not someone else's."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men." ~ Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965.

It looks like the Democratic Society Party (DTP) is maneuvering itself into position for the next elections, and they aren't planning to team up with anyone else either, in this article from The New Anatolian. I guess they learned from their predecessor's failure in the last elections: it does not pay to align with a Turkish party.

After several days of news about the tug-of-war between government and TUSIAD over the 10% threshold, nothing has changed. AKP and CHP continue to defend the threshold because it's what gave them so many seats. It also happens to lock out Kurdish candidates. Eventually, however, the 10% will have to be lowered to make the EU happy.

The biggest joke about maintaining the 10% threshold is the one about stability. The threshold is supposed to maintain stability, but what kind of stability exists in Turkey anyway, especially in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan? That's like the big joke about maintaining the status quo in the Middle East for the sake of regional stability. Of course, you have to have a sense of black humor to be able to laugh at these kinds of jokes.

As usual, Erdogan plays the politician and offers some other kinds of readjustments in order to give the impression that he is concerned about the "fairness" of the 10% and he mumbles something about rearranging the seats or whatever in order to make things more "fair."

Baykal of CHP, on the other hand, comes right out and says why CHP is opposed to lowering the threshold, without going into a lecture on new math or funny statistics. Simply put, CHP wants the threshold maintained in order to keep DTP out of parliament. CHP doesn't like "ethnic" types (meaning, Kurds) in parliament. After all, the threshold is meant to maintain the "fairness" of the electoral system and keep it "on a national basis" (meaning, purely Turkish). "Ethnicity" can't be involved in something like that. It doesn't matter that at least 20% of your population is not represented in parliament.

Ah, but I forget myself. . . that 20% doesn't officially exist except in theoretical discussions about identity and sub-identity.

It doesn't matter that non-Kurdish parties in Turkey have never done anything for Kurds, except bring misery, or that they promise to take care of Kurdish problems after they take care of the really important Turkish problems (this should sound familiar to some people). What matters is that we keep this "fair" and "on a national basis."

Since there are only a few days left in 2005, everyone is peering into crystal balls and making predictions for the new year. I came across an interesting one. The preview of coming attractions reads: Kurdish Threat to Stability in Turkey: Prospects 2006 :

Decisions taken in 2005 will dominate domestic developments in 2006 in two key domains: The decision of the EU to start negotiations on Turkey's accession will affect the choice of measures which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take to deal with the mounting problems of Kurdish nationalism and ethno-terrorism. [. . . ]

The growth of Kurdish nationalism and ethnic terrorism will constitute the main threat to stability. [. . . .]

Although Erdogan renewed his promise of a democratic solution to the Kurdish question when he visited Hakkari after the disturbances, he will find it difficult to maintain law and order while simultaneously extending civil liberties (and eliminating rogue elements in the security forces).

I guess that's why Ankara decided to send all those cameras to the far "Southeast," in order to extend all those civil liberties.

But what is interesting about these predictions, and what links this second article to the one from The New Anatolian, are its remarks about DTP:

The revival of terrorist activity by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), operating from its main base in northern Iraq, presents a major challenge to the government . It believes (as do most Turks) that the newly-formed Democratic Society Party (DTP), like its predecessor the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), will act as a front organisation for the PKK.

Is DTP being set up to be banned, as DEHAP was before it, and HADEP was before it, and all other Kurdish parties have been? My crystal ball tells me that "ethnicity" will become the new code word for "Kurdish," in 2006, in order to deflect EU criticism of Turkey's Kurdish policy. I guess the 10% threshold is simply a precaution, in case the official wheels of inexorable Turkish justice don't grind fast enough to shut down certain "ethnic" parties before the elections.

Let's be brutally honest about this whole PKK thing. Everyone who now labels PKK as a "terrorist" organization, were the same people who committed atrocities against Kurds, set the policies into place, or ignored what was happening. They looked the other way, even as they sold the Ankara regime the very weapons systems used against Kurdish civilians. They said nothing, even as millions of Kurds were driven out of thousands of destroyed villages. They closed their eyes, even as the Turkish state attempted to wipe the Kurdish people off the face of the earth.

So, honestly, who are the real terrorists?

Sunday, December 25, 2005


"What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles." ~ George Wilhelm Hegel.

In my 14 December post, I discussed my suspicions that the US and Turkey were repairing their relationship after the visits of the CIA and FBI chiefs, as well as a coincidental visit to Turkey by Brent Scowcroft, currently the chairman of the board of directors for the American-Turkish Council, but formerly a US military general and two-time presidential national security advisor. Today, in a commentary piece on TDN, the same suspicions are voiced by Yuksel Soylemez:

Surely there was intelligence cooperation between the related agencies of Turkey and the United States, until relations soured with the infamous Mar. 1, 2003 motion of Parliament refusing, unwisely, the United States entry into northern Iraq through Turkey. Personal contacts in Ankara at these highest levels, professionally and politically, clearly indicate that the United States is now proposing a welcome restart of Turkey-U.S. intelligence cooperation, with urgency.

This may be the beginning of a new era of intelligence sharing between Turkey and the United States. This is absolutely well and fine, better late than never, back to the statuco ante. Highly important intelligence sharing is a priority for both Turkey and the United States against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), international terrorism in general and against al-Qaeda in particular.

[. . . ]

After the departure of the two high-ranking officials from Ankara, with little photo opportunity to the disappointment of the media, brand new U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross L. Wilson, a career diplomat with Baku experience to his credit, said by way of an embassy press conference: My mission is to reconstruct U.S.-Turkey relations and enlarge the scope of bilateral relations and cooperation. We intend to see the results of our efforts in 2006. Our first priority is Iraq. An important event was the Iraqi elections that are now already behind us. Turkey's help in Iraq is important, as it was important before. To maintain the unity of Iraq and to continue to fight against such groups like the terrorist Zarqawi gang, Turkey's cooperation has great importance, to paraphrase the context.

The second priority of the United States is terrorism. In our common fight against terrorism, more specifically PKK terrorism against Turkey, we must be result-oriented in this regard and we are conscious of this. We intend not only to cooperate against the PKK and al-Qaeda, but against all other terrorist groups. There will be an increased cooperation between the United States and Turkey, again, to paraphrase the words of Ambassador Wilson.

As usual, no mention is made of Turkish state terror perpetrated against Kurds, particularly the recent bombing in Şemzîn, although there is a reference to "shocking media reports of shady landings in Turkey of so-called CIA planes used for purported interrogations fo al-Qaeda suspects. . . " I don't understand how the media reports could be characterized as "shocking," or the landings of CIA planes as "shady," by someone who supports Turkey's coooperation with the US, to include the sharing of intelligence "against al-Qaeda in particular."

There is speculation here that the visits of the CIA and FBI heads included a discussion of the offer of an amnesty to PKK members. A reference is also made to Masûd Barzanî's comments that a total amnesty to PKK is the only way to solve the issue. Talabanî had recently called for amnesty as well. In late 2003, Turkey offered a partial amnesty to PKK, but since the conditions of the amnesty excluded political leaders and military commanders, it was unacceptable and was virtually ignored by PKK. The remarks of Abdullah Gul at the time, to the effect that the partial amnesty had PKK in a "panic," look ridiculous in hindsight, especially since the 5-year unilateral ceasefire initiated by PKK came to an end in 2004.

Another question raised by Soylemez's speculations is that of the reception of the idea of TSK deployment to Iraq after the US leaves:

Who should fill in the U.S. military gap in the near future as a peace-builder in order to help avoid a full scale Iraqi civil war? The Iraqi Kurds two years ago were adamantly against a Turkish military presence in northern Iraq. In view of the approaching military vacuum, will the Iraqi Kurds think twice about a plausible U.S. idea to the contrary, to prevent the bleak specter of a full scale civil war, when the TSK could play a counterbalancing but difficult role? Such a scenario suggested by some media strategists may look like pure fiction to some. It may sound too hypothetical or too far-fetched for others. But is it?

In 2003, there was an overwhelmingly negative response to the possible deployment of TSK in South Kurdistan/Iraq, from Southern Kurds as well as Kurds in diaspora, but the question of the receptivity of the Southern Kurds and diaspora Kurds to a new proposal of this scenario is something to watch for. Turkey may certainly be willing to appear to commit TSK to southern deployment under the pretext of supporting the greater war on terrorism, but Turkey may well be far more interested in the black gold of Mûsil and Kerkuk, as well as hunting down PKK gerîlas in the Qandîl area, than in assisting the US in its greater regional interests. There is still a TSK presence in South Kurdistan, a rotten leftover from the days when Turkey was a cooperative partner with Saddam Hussein. Given the Ankara regime's overwhelming interest in Mûsil and Kerkuk, and TSKs continuing presence in the South, it may well become impossible to remove them if they are successfully recruited to fill the vacuum.

Nothing is too far-fetched or hypothetical for the Middle East because, in that part of the world, truth is always stranger than fiction.

GREAT NEWS: Nadire Mater's excellent book, in which she provided a platform for Turkish soldiers to speak in their own words on their experiences of the TSK's war in Kurdistan, is now available in an English translation from both and Professor Michael Gunter wrote a review of the Turkish language version of the book. Mehmed's Book: Soldiers Who Have Fought in the Southeast Speak Out, was banned in Turkey when it first appeared and Ms. Mater was charged with "humiliating the military and the state." She and her editor were later acquited of the charge. She is now the project advisor for, a site dedicated to media freedom in Turkey. The English title of the book is Voices from the Front: Turkish Soldiers on the War with the Kurdish Guerrillas and I highly recommend it.

"But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." ~ The US Declaration of Independence.

The Ankara regime has determined the guilty parties in the Şemzîn bombing, as reported by Zaman:

Surveillance Cameras to Monitor SE Turkey
By Fatih Atik
Published: Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Interior Ministry and Security General Directorate tightened up the measures against security concerns in Southeastern Anatolia after the events in Semdinli and Yuksekova towns of Hakkari.

A camera system will be set up in Sirnak and Hakkari to prevent provocations and activities of Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). A similar system, which is applied with great success in Istanbul and Ankara, will be established in the city and town centers of Hakkari and Sirnak. Five cameras will be placed in Sirnak city center, and seven in Hakkari after feasibility studies are completed.

The camera- control system, which is applied successfully in New York and London, became operant in Istanbul just recently.

The possibility of provocation was discussed in the Semdinli case, where the committers of the bombing are unknown. As the statements of the noncommissioned officers and the statements of the eyewitnesses contradict, Security teams took action.

Sirnak Police Department offered setting up a camera system in the city to provide efficient information flow and to make it easier to provide security in the city.

The feasibility studies were launched after the Sirnak Police Department's offer. The companies which established the surveillance system in Istanbul went to Sirnak and its vicinities to conducted estimation studies.

The spots to place the cameras were determined after a thorough technical investigation by the experts. The cameras will be mounted in crowded centers and nearby public buildings. Five cameras will be placed in the city center of Sirnak, seven cameras to Silopi and five cameras to Cizre in the first step.

Ankara wants us to believe that their own terrorists, who bombed the bookstore in Şemzîn, are unknown to them. In this case, as always, the eyewitnesses, being Kurds, are not reliable in the eyes of the regime. Therefore they are to be ignored and stricter repression should be enforced against them, this time in the form of security cameras. And, lest anyone suffer from ignorance of Newspeak, let's be perfectly clear that the security provided by these cameras will not benefit the populace that is being spied upon. The cameras, consistent with Kemalism and its glorification of totalitarianism, will serve only to protect the state.

Again, consistent with the Kemalist regime that slaughtered almost 40,000 Kurds in the 1980s and 90s, the blame for another of its crimes is passed off as a "provocation" of PKK.

Does Ankara realize how stupid it looks? After 25 years of military operations and the presence of hundreds of thousands of security forces, it is still too incompetent to bomb a tiny bookstore in a town made miserable and impoverished by its own policies of repression.

As one example, consider the words of Adnan Hatipoglu:

"All the doors have been shut in our face and hopes have been dashed. We are effectively being told: ‘Don‘t trade officially, smuggle instead.‘ [. . . .] Europe is focused on investing in the west but they should do more for this region. People are suffering here. [. . . .] Life in the region has become unbearable. Unemployment has reached 70 percent, livestock farming has been decimated and villages emptied."

A similar report, from the Financial Times, can be found at

Instead of transparency, as was promised in the days following the bombing, a heavy curtain falls over the event at Şemzîn. It's time for another round of mass protests in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


"But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe…that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market… That at any rate is the theory of our constitution." ~ Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.

Americans should be concerned about what happens to Roj TV, and lend their support to it, for three reasons: Turkey is not a steady ally of the United States, it is not a secular democracy and it represses the right of free expression, within its borders and without.

Since September 11, 2001, America is no longer an isolated observer of events happening in the Middle East. That tragic day was the beginning of active American participation in changing a status quo that has for too long allowed repressive regimes to crush the populations under their control. The regimes of which I speak have no regard for the human, civil, political and cultural rights of the people they repress. The Kurdish people have suffered and continue to suffer brutal repression under four of these regimes: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

At this point, the Kurds of Iraq have a chance at freedom, thanks to the years of Operation Northern Watch, in which the American people committed themselves to protecting the airspace over South Kurdistan so that a fledgling democracy could establish itself on the ground. Operation Iraqi Freedom brought the final blow to the Iraqi Ba'ath regime, and the result of that overthrow has given Kurds in Iraq the confidence to create for themselves the safest and most energetic part of Iraq. It has been a fitting outcome for the Kurds, especially since they were the second most numerous coalition partners, providing the US with 100,000 combat-experienced pêşmerge on a moment's notice, after America's longtime ally, Turkey, failed to permit the deployment of US troops from Turkish territory.

Right now, Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria are looking toward liberated South Kurdistan with hope that this Kurdish exercise in democracy will bring to an end the suffering they have endured since the end of World War I when they were unjustly divided among the regional powers with the blessings of the British and the French governments. During a recent trip back to that part of Kurdistan which has suffered enormously under the Turkish regime, I witnessed this hope personally through those Kurds who were beginning to establish business ties with their kin to the south. I heard it in statements made to me, of how happy friends and strangers were with the new opportunities as a result of the liberation of part of Kurdistan. There were also expressions of hope that America would help them, Kurds in Turkey, to rise from the second-class, or worse, status that they have suffered for so long.

Americans will say to me, "Turkey is a secular democracy and it has been our ally since the Cold War," but the fact is that Turkey failed to deliver when America needed to deploy its troops into Iraq from the north. Another fact is that Turkey is not a secular democracy.

The present Turkish constitution controls religion which, by default, pushes religion to become a means of political expression. Religious education is controlled by the Turkish state. No members of religious minorities have ever been members of the Turkish parliament, the cabinet or in the officer ranks of the Turkish military. The AKP, which is the current ruling party and is Islamist, has recently begun crackdowns on the sale and consumption of alcohol. The government now promotes the products of Turkish companies that support Islamist causes and reports have suggested that Saudi money is flooding the economy. Anti-Americanism and antisemitism have been on the rise.

As for democracy, this is a fiction, not only for many Turks but particularly for Kurds. Kurds have been engaged in military or political resistance against the Ankara regime since 1925, when the repression began. It didn't matter if a village stayed out of fighting and remained loyal to Ankara; the Turkish government brought destruction to all of them, simply because they were Kurds. With the military coup of 1980, a new round of armed resistance began. It was the response of a people with no other means of defending themselves against the brutality the Turkish military. This most recent fighting resulted in the ethnic cleansing of between 3 to 4 million Kurds, the destruction of some 4,000 Kurdish villages, disappearances, extrajudicial murders, and the enjoyment of impunity by the state security forces which uses torture against those detained. If not for these atrocities of the Turkish state against the Kurdish people, there would never have been a need for armed struggle. If not for these atrocities, there would have been no PKK.

This reign of terror resulted in the flight of many Kurds from Turkey to other parts of the world. It was in Europe that Kurds who had fled Turkey began to rediscover and preserve the culture that Turkey had sought to destroy, especially the Kurmancî language. It was there that the Kurds began to create their own media without fear of Turkish repression, without worrying that Kurdish journalists, or non-Kurdish journalists, who wrote about Kurdish issues in Turkey, would be disappeared, extrajudicially murdered or imprisoned. It was there that Kurdish-language media offices could function without fear of bombing.

Roj TV has been the best and brightest of these efforts, covering the news of the entire region, and the world, from the Kurdish perspective. Roj TV's programming is primarily in Kurdish, but includes programming in other languages as well, including Turkish. Almost 30 million Kurds in 77 different countries enjoy news, cultural and educational programming, music videos and movies, primarily in their mother tongue--Kurdish.

While Turkey has promised limited Kurdish-language broadcasting as part of its EU accession efforts, after several years, the promise has proven to be empty words. Roj TV is popular, even in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, because Roj TV has enjoyed the right of free expression from its European base, the Turkish state has been clamoring for its closure by making claims that Roj TV disseminates "terrorist" propaganda. But Roj TV does nothing of the sort, nor do the people who operate Roj TV have ties to terrorist groups of any kind, but they strive to maintain their programming within the boundaries of law as set by Danish broadcasting authorities. These authorities have investigated video footage supplied by the Turkish embassy in Denmark. No incitement to violence or terrorism of any kind was found by Danish authorities.

The Turkish state attempts to silence those outside of its own borders who speak out about such truths as the Armenian genocide and the violence in the Kurdish region, even going so far as to call for prosecution of members of the European Parliament. Orhan Pamuk is not the only writer to find himself facing prosecution under the Turkish Penal Code's infamous Article 301, which can severely curb freedom of expression depending on the interpretation of individual judges. Fatih Tas, a journalism student at Istanbul University faces imprisonment for his translation of American John Tirman's book, The Spoils of War, which criticizes Turkey's violence against its Kurdish population. Orhan Pamuk and Fatih Tas are only two examples of the 50 to 60 journalists and writers who are currently facing prosecution from a government which does not recognize the right of free expression. The Turkish government would like very much that Roj TV become another victim of its intolerance of free expression.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So reads the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This amendment is rightly placed at the head of those ten initial amendments, which are known to Americans as the Bill of Rights. It encompasses the right to free expression--in religion, in speech, in the press, in public assembly as well as in the process of approaching all branches of government for help in solving problems in the interests of the people--and free expression is the very essence of democracy. As the United States endeavors to encourage the spread of democratic values and practice in the Middle East, Turkey continues to threaten the same, especially in its totalitarian-style tactics aimed at silencing Roj TV.

Since the United States is supporting Turkey in its EU accession process, Americans have an interest in lending their support to those who remain on the frontline of the battle for democracy, both in Europe and in the Middle East. Americans ought to insist that Turkey engage in truly democratic practices, especially with regard to free expression, or risk facing a new Europe, one in which free expression is severely diminished and America's efforts at democratizing the Middle East become nothing more than expensive exercises in hypocrisy.

Friday, December 23, 2005


"The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth." ~ Albert Camus.

I'm used to reading about human rights violations in Turkey. I'm used to the fact that people are prosecuted and imprisoned for speaking the truth, or for speaking Kurdish, or for using "forbidden letters." I'm used to these things, even though I despise them, because I know that this is what passes for normal in Turkey.

Today, though, I read something that I had to read a couple of times because it is, in a certain way, ridiculous. Ridiculous, disappointing, absurd. . . in other words, it is another example of what passes for normal, from the Washington Post:

Even before the bloody head of a sheep turned up on the brewery doorstep, the makers of Roj beer had reason to suspect their light, malty lager might not be to everyone's taste.

There was the hate mail, a virulent torrent of insults invoking mothers, sisters, dogs, blood and "dreamers like you."

There was the knock on the door of the brewer's Istanbul representative, who was taken from his house one evening in late September by Turkish security officers and interrogated till dawn.

Did you get that? This is about beer. . . Kurdish beer and the reactions to it in Turkey. Not only do human rights activists, Kurdish politicians, Turkish and Kurdish writers and journalists and others have to worry about the knock on the door in the middle of the night, but now brewers of Kurdish beer need to worry:

"My life is in danger, I think," said the company's managing director, N. Keske, so spooked by threats he asked that his full name not be published. "This is your last warning," read the note under the sheep's head.

The article mentions estimates of Turkey's Kurdish population as between 10 to 15 million, but it could be as high as 20 million, the point being that this would be the target population for Roj Beer's marketing efforts. Simply by labeling the beer as "Kurdish," you might win over a hefty chunk of that 15 to 20 million member market. What's the problem in that, especially in a country that tries to convince everyone else that it has a modern, free market economy? Well, one reason could be that Efes Beer, a Turkish beer, has 70% of the market wrapped up. That lock on the beer-drinking consumer in Turkey is proposed as a possible reason for the hold up on Roj Beer's import application process. Can anyone say, "monopoly?"

As the article discusses, there is a lot more at stake with the possible marketing of Roj Beer in Turkey. It has social dimensions. It puts the whole question of Kurdish existence and Kurdish identity right in your hands. You'd be able to read it right on the label and flash back on all the decades of official denial, the whole bloody business of the 1980s and 90s, as well as the current, rising tension over questions of identity and sub-identity.

Can anyone believe these comments:

"I wouldn't advise it," said Filiz Telli, who was sharing a Turkish brew with a co-worker in an Istanbul bar. "And I think a lot of people think like me."

Telli testified to the view that the "Kurdish problem" had moved from the military sphere to the social. The fighting that leveled thousands of villages in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast set off a migration to the cities of the west and north, where Kurds are often viewed as outsiders.

"To say the least, if we were to dress up . . . and go to an environment where the Kurds are, we would feel uncomfortable," said Telli, curling a lip.

"And whatever sector, they just jump in, regardless of whether they know the job," said Senay Badem, her friend.

"It's not only in Istanbul," Telli added. "Go to any nice place and they're either running it or managing it or working there."

These statements illustrate the ultimate absurdity: The victims deserve oppression because without it, they would take over the entire country and, in doing so, would create an environment in which the oppressor would feel "uncomfortable."

The attitude reflected above proves that the comment of the professor from Bilgi University, that there is a definite move of the conflict into the social arena, is true. But I do not agree with him that the potential social confrontation is more frightening than oppressive government. Instead, it is oppressive government that has fostered the social confrontation. The rising nationalist sentiment in Turkey is, in good part, the result of an educational system that has, since the foundation of the Republic, reinforced Kemalism. The educational system has been the crucible in which social confrontation has been produced.

This system has led to a rise in anti-Americanism, antisemitism and, with the latest nationalist calls for the prosecution of the head of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, I believe anti-Europeanism is next.

There are those organizations in Turkey that have been battling Kemalism in education and curricula, such as Egitim-Sen, the Turkish Academy of Sciences and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, among others. See Bianet's education page for more information, especially the article, "Turk-Soldier-Muslim": The Ideal Student.

"As a businessperson, I wouldn't sell it. I see risk," said Ahmet Er, who runs the Vera bar in central Istanbul. "Because there's a situation behind it."

I don't believe that Roj Beer purposely intends political consequences from its product, but there is very definitely a situation behind anything Kurdish in Turkey. Of course, that situation was created by the official ideology of an oppressive government and was supported by the global community. Until that ideology is destroyed, and the minds of the people are liberated from it, there will continue to be an absurd situation that passes for normal.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance." ~ Woodrow Wilson

I have been reading and thinking about the latest news of Dr. Kamal Sayed Qadir and the more I read and think, the more disturbed and disappointed I become. For reference, see Charles Chapman's excellent post about the situation on his blog. Charles is beginning to explore the future of Kurdistan by questioning freedom of expression in the South and what the effects of Dr. Kamal's situation might be for the North. More information can be found by Piling at Roj Bash! and at KurdishMedia.

I made my first trip to South Kurdistan this year. One of my friends in the North had recently returned from there, and when I arrived in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, his trip was one of the first things we talked about. I asked him what he liked most about South Kurdistan. "All the soldiers and police are Kurds," he replied without a moment's hesitation. This is a significant thing for a Kurd under Turkish-occupation to say, because it is an acknowledgement that there is a place on earth where Kurds wield the power of the state. Instead of foreign troops--yes, Turkish troops in North Kurdistan are foreign; they come from west of Kurdistan--the Kurds of the South are policed and protected by Kurds.

Now, this discussion with my friend gave me intellectual knowledge of what South Kurdistan was like, but crossing the Habur/Ibrahim Khalil border gave me experiential knowledge. The difference between the two sides of the border can best be compared to the difference between night and day. On the side of Turkish occupation, there are Turkish soldiers and police, guardtowers, throngs of people, crisp one-hundred US dollar bills on the counters to ease the necessary stamp into the passport, controlled chaos. . . yes, controlled chaos. It is all orchestrated by the official Turkish bureaucracy to keep everyone off balance, to maintain control of the "restive" Kurdish population, to keep those addictive little greenbacks flowing into the pocket of the official who decides whether or not you will cross.

On the Kurdish side, the soldiers are gone as are the guardtowers. There are no greenbacks on the counter in front of the Kurdish officials. It is quiet and much cleaner. Everyone bustles about, tending to their own business.

But what I really noticed in the South, what was so amazing to me, was that I was free to speak. I no longer had to worry that my words would get me, loved ones, friends and their families, into trouble. I did not fear police or pêşmerge. I did not feel a sense of dread at checkpoints and roadblocks. No one feared these things, and the police and pêşmerge did not fear the people. Each moved freely in and around and among each other, on the streets, in the bazaars, outside of public buildings. Eventually, I ceased to pay attention to the authorities because they did not present themselves as a threat. Even the pêşmerge guarding the border with Turkish-occupied Kurdistan were not a threat. Instead, they warned me not to go too close to the fence on their side of no-man's land or the Turks would surely shoot me. Of course, I already knew that.

In the North, it isn't like that. You watch your mouth, you watch the police, the jandarma, the intelligence types in civilian clothes. You are always aware of them and where they are when you are in public. You get a distinct sense of uneasiness when you see a roadblock looming ahead of you on the highway, out in the middle of nowhere. You get annoyed with them when they appear out of thin air thirty seconds after you have arrived in a village. They always ask the same questions. Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here? On the other hand, you know how to feign just enough stupidity to annoy them in return.

Dr. Kamal's case is the latest in a series of recent events in South Kurdistan that cause me to wonder if we are witnessing a trend in the way state power will be wielded in the future:

In August, there were reports of PUK security shooting at Rojhilatî Kurds in Silêmanî. They were protesting against the Teheran regime's brutal repression of Kurds in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan.

In September, a peaceful protest in the town of Kalar, over a lack of water and electricity, ended up as a riot when the PUK authorities tried to break up the protest.

In October, there was a riot in Akre over lack of public services and fuel. The KDP refused to allow media coverage of the riot. Random arrests over this incident continued into November. It was also in October that Dr. Kamal was arrested.

In December, there was an attack on the Kurdistan Islamic Union. It was reported that the KDP was involved with certain incidents surrounding the attacks.

Are these events simply coincidental or do they indicate a trend? Is Dr. Kamal's detention incommunicado and secret trial simply coincidental or is it the latest in the trend? Orhan Pamuk is only one out of 50 or 60 other writers or journalists currently being tried in Turkey under Article 301. I wonder how many others have undergone detention incommunicado and secret trial in South Kurdistan, others about whom we have not heard AND whose voices we shall not hear for another 30 years.

The memories of the freedom I felt in South Kurdistan, combined with the fear that there may be a trend against the freedom of expression there, are the sources of my deep disturbance and deep disappointment. In many ways, South Kurdistan has come a long way since 1991, even though there is still a long way to go and many problems to be solved. I wonder if the Kurds of the South will learn to hate and fear those whose job it is to police and protect them, just as they have hated and feared foreign oppressors. I wonder if they will begin to dread the checkpoints and the roadblocks. I wonder if they will learn to watch their words in order to guard their lives.

The memory of Kurdish şehîds deserves better than this. The Kurdish people living today deserve better than this. They yearn for freedom, have fought for it and cling stubbornly to it . . . in all parts of Kurdistan. They know that the history of liberty is the history of resistance.

Friday, December 16, 2005


The show is not going on. . . not until 7 February at least.

There is a great article on the events at the Istanbul court today, on what was to be the first day of Orhan Pamuk's trial, at the Times Online. It is obvious that the Turkish government wants to have its cake and eat it too. The government wants to convict Pamuk in the worst way, but it knows the Europeans are watching, so it has to pretend to be a civilized government. This, with the convenient excuse of the courts not knowing under which Turkish Penal Code to try Pamuk, is why the court is begging the Justice Ministry to make the decision.

In a land where prosecutors and judges can and do interpret law to their own tastes, depending on who the accused is, the Orhan Pamuk case is a huge embarrassment for the impression of Turkey that is given abroad. Who honestly believes that the court does not know which Turkish Penal Code to apply in this case? Isn't this another example of why the entire Turkish legal system, beginning with the constitution, needs scrapping? The world should realize which is the true face of the Kemalist regime. . . it isn't the one that feigns delicacy over the conviction of this author. The real face of the Kemalist regime is the one that is silently, desperately, hoping to find a way to hang him so that the Europeans won't object. . . not too much, anyway.

Of course, if it had been some ordinary slob who said that a million Armenians and thirty-thousand Kurds had been slaughtered by the Turkish state, there would be no doubt in the mind of any prosecutor or judge as to which penal code to use and there would be no messing around with getting the Justice Ministry's ruling on anything.

Some of the news coverage of the trial mentioned violence outside the court, with Kemalists throwing eggs and attacking Pamuk's car. There was one particularly illuminating paragraph in Bianet's report of the violence:

During entry in the Sisli District Justice Hall and exit nationalist groups making signs of wolf heads with their hands shouted slogans against Pamuk whom they charged with "treason" for admitting that "30 thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in this land" in an interview with a Swiss magazine.

For those who don't know, making the wolf's head with the hand is the distinctive sign of the Gray Wolf.

We live in interesting times.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


The show trial, that is. Orhan Pamuk's trial is due to begin Friday, 16 December, 2005:

Pamuk's case needs Justice Ministry green light

The New Anatolian / Ankara

First hearing in trial of acclaimed writer set for Friday, but may not go forward without ministry say-so

The Criminal Court of First Instance is seeking the Justice Ministry's green light for the soon-to-start trial of author Orhan Pamuk, who is charged with denigrating Turkish identity, reported daily Milliyet yesterday.

Under the previous Turkish Penal Code (TCK), if the ministry doesn't authorize the trial, the case will be dropped automatically. However, it is unclear whether the old or the new TCK will be used.

In an interview earlier this year, Pamuk told Swiss Das Bild's magazine that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurdish people were killed in Turkey, and he was later charged by the Sisli Public Prosecutor's Office, seeking prison time from six months to three years.

However, the Justice Ministry said that authorization isn't required under the new TCK, and that both the TCKs stipulate the same prison terms if Pamuk is convicted.

The first hearing is set for Friday in Istanbul with Pamuk's attendance. Under the previous TCK's Article 106/2, if the necessary authorization doesn't arrive by the trial date, Pamuk's trial may not go forward.

Nobel laureates support Pamuk

Writers Jose Saramago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Gunter Grass yesterday issued a written statement expressing support for Pamuk.

Besides the three writers, all previous winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, famous writers Umberto Eco, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, John Updike, and Mario Vargas Llosa also signed the statement, saying that Pamuk's case is incompatible with the rule of law.

Guess who else supports Pamuk? Salman Rushdie. Here are some of his remarks from two months ago on the charges against Pamuk, from The Times:

That Pamuk is criticised by Turkish Islamists and radical nationalists is no surprise. That the attackers frequently disparage his works as obscure and self-absorbed, accusing him of having sold out to the West, is no surprise either. It is, however, disappointing to read intellectuals such as Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations and a newspaper columnist, criticising “those, especially in the West, who would use the indictment against Pamuk to denigrate Turkey’s progress toward greater civil rights — and toward European Union membership”.

Ozel wants the charges against Pamuk thrown out at the trial in December, and accepts that they represent an “affront” to free speech, but prefers to stress “the distance that the country has covered in the past decade”. This seems altogether too weak. The number of convictions and prison sentences under the laws that penalise free speech in Turkey has indeed declined in the past decade, but International PEN’s records show that more than 50 writers, journalists and publishers currently face trials. Turkish journalists continue to protest against the (revised) penal code. The International Publishers Association, in a deposition to the UN, has described this revised code as being “deeply flawed”.

"Deeply flawed." That's a nice way to put it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


"In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia." ~ George Orwell.

"Old soldiers never die; they only fade away," was a line made famous by the American general, Douglas MacArthur. Unfortunately, some old soldiers don't fade away quickly enough.

Former general and national security advisor Brent Scowcroft is still around to take a check or two from the Turkish lobby in the US, as chairman of the American Turkish Council board of directors. He was in Turkey recently, ostensibly to check on the status of the Turkish business community, but he also visited with a few old friends of his, the Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, and the army Chief of General Staff, Hilmi Ozkok. It would appear that Chairman Scowcroft had more to say about Kemalist issues than he did about business in this article from The New Anatolian.

I suspect Scowcroft really made the trip to reinforce the recent visits of CIA and FBI officials because he reiterates the purpose of those meetings in Ankara and the steps Turkey wants the US to take against PKK: assisting with the tracking and freezing of PKK financial assets and delivering the intelligence Ankara has been begging for, among other things. That information, plus Scowcroft's comment that he isn't at liberty to discuss anything in detail, should be more than enough circumstantial evidence to prove that he isn't so concerned with the Turkish business community.

(As a point of clarification, let me say that whenever a Kemalist or their supporters, in this case, Scowcroft, speak of PKK, they mean "Kurds," and when they speak of Kurds, they mean "PKK." To them, all Kurds are terrorists. After all, Erdogan doesn't have a Kurdish problem . . . he only has a "terrorist" problem and it is this "terrorist" problem that the US will help him solve.)

In fact, given that Turkey's purchases of US weapon systems have dropped since AKP took power, and since Scowcroft laments the loss of coziness the Turkish and US military enjoyed for so long, we could say that here is another piece of circumstantial evidence that Scowcroft's mission has little to do with business and everything to do with renewing an old romance. In other words, the US is looking for common objectives with Turkey.

Speaking of weapons, Scowcroft expresses his concern that the types of weapons that HPG uses in the "Southeast" against the TSK are the same kinds of weapons being used against American troops in Iraq. He makes no mention of the fact that the same weapons and weapons systems used by the American army in Iraq are the same ones the TSK has been using against the civilian Kurdish population of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan for many years.

He acknowledges an "upsurge" in HPG activity in the "Southeast," after a relatively calm period--that would be the PKK-initiated unilateral ceasefire--but he fails to mention that the Ankara regime did nothing to improve the "Southeast" during that time. Related to the "upsurge" of "terrorist" activity in the "Southeast," Scowcroft also fails to mention the Ankara regime's terrorist activity that began in the region in the early 1920s.

Another indication of Scowcroft's quasi-official visit (remember, he spoke with his old buddies, Gul and Ozkok) is the fact that he was against Operation Iraqi Freedom, just like his Turkish buddies were, but he's now pressing the fact that the war is a done deal and everyone must move on and make the best of things. Scowcroft pleads that case that Turkey and the US must work together to see that the kind of Iraq that emerges is the kind of Iraq that Turkey and the US want. What will happen if the people of Iraq have a different vision of their own future? We'll have to wait to see about that, since Scowcroft dodged the question about the Kurds in South Kurdistan.

After all this, it should come as no surprise that Scowcroft pushes the Kemalist party line on Armenians, Cyprus and GAP, and while the number of American students applying to study in Turkey has dropped 12% in the last year (a reaction to that rising anti-Americanism in Turkey?), Scowcroft believes the atmosphere in Turkey is perfect for American investors.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, Ibrahim Parlak's attorneys have filed their motion for stay of removal and the reply memorandum to the motion can be found here. It is short, as far as legal documents go, and is worth a read as a great summation of Ibrahim's case. The point that the legal battle seems to boil down to is the following:

At its most fundamental level, Mr. Parlak’s petition presents the following question: can an immigrant like Mr. Parlak, who made forthright disclosures about his past association with the PKK on his asylum application in 1991 and was granted asylum with INS knowledge of these disclosures, be later deported under INA §237(a)(4)(B) on the basis of a retroactive recharacterization in 2004 of these 1980s events as “terrorist activity”?

Apparently, this issue has not been definitely decided by any US federal court, which, I believe, means that Ibrahim's case may have the potential to set a legal precedent on the question of retroactive application of law. . . at least US immigration law. The interesting thing is that the US Circuit Courts of Appeal seem to be slamming the Board of Immigration Appeals, criticizing the Board for various incompetencies such as not being familiar with the basic information of petitioners' cases, making factual conclusions that are completely unsupported by evidence, the use of disparagement and sarcasm by BIA judges toward petitioners or the display of hostility and extraordinary abuse toward petitioners. . . Some of the legal documents on FreeIbrahim are quite revealing about the way in which immigration issues are handled within the federal government. It is a great thing to have separate, federal courts to which one may appeal.

In addition, Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) and Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) have introduced a bill in both houses of Congress to obtain permanent residency for Ibrahim so that he cannot be deported.

Monday, December 12, 2005


"We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality."
~ Ayn Rand

The New Anatolian has a great interview with two Kurdish politicians, Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, of the Democratic Society Party (DTP). What is particularly interesting is that this interview is a confirmation of things I have thought and said, sor quite some time about the role of PKK as part of the greater Kurdish national movement.

The entire interview can be read here, but I will snip some pieces of it to show what I consider to be crucial to any consideration of PKK.

Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk, co-chairs of the new Democratic Society Party (DTP), said even though their party doesn't have any organic ties with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) or Abdullah Ocalan, they have common stands, and in Turkey the Kurdish issue can't be solved if the reality of Ocalan and the PKK is ignored. [. . . . ]

Tugluk, Ocalan's former lawyer, defended herself like so: Now I have a different responsibility, dealing with politics, so this can't be connected to my old activities. But Ocalan is a reality in Turkey. Some think that he's a hero, others that he's a terrorist.

It is true that Ocalan and PKK are realities for the Kurdish situation in the North. PKK will forever have an influence on that situation because it was PKK that politicized the Kurds under Turkish-occupation, reminded Kurds who they were and showed them that resistance to brutality was possible. PKK taught the people to find their voice. Ocalan himself has become the symbol of that politicization and resistance, not only for many Kurds in the North but for many in diaspora as well. Like it or not, approve of it or not, this is the reality of the situation, and everyone has been affected by it to one degree or another.

In connection with the absurdity, and hypocrisy, of "sub-identities," which Erdogan spoke of at Şemzîn (Şemdinli):

The prime minister sometimes makes talks like he did in Diyarbakir this summer: The state has been at fault on the issue, the Kurdish problem is my problem. There's a primary identity but there's also a sub identity.' Then all of a sudden it's so sad that we see a different prime minister who speaks differently on the way to Australia. He says, There's no Kurdish issue, in fact the issue is terror,' and he tries to make Islam out as the primary identity. So how will excuse yourself to minorities, then? So at this point we're really having a hard time understanding how our premier came to that point.

Ahmet Turk also points out the reality of the rejection of the Kurdish identity in the past, the politicization of the Kurdish people and their determination to seek their rights, and that these rights are still denied to the people today.

The interview continues with a discussion of the Turkish constitution. It has been my argument that the Turkish constitution needs to be scrapped and a new one written because the writing of this document was supervised by the military, it serves to officially enshrine and protect Kemalism, and with the changes required to bring it into line with Copenhagen Criteria are so vast that it is ridiculous to try to save this document. Since EU accession is a goal, it would be simpler and more effective to write a new constitution with a truly democratic spirit.

Here are some of Aysel Tugluk's comments on the constitution:

If there's an article in the Constitution saying that all the citizens who have a relation of citizenship to the government are Turks, this doesn't allow other identities to be freely expressed. This is antidemocratic and so the other parts of society can't see themselves in such a Constitution. In fact this Constitution is very much outdated and it doesn't fit the needs of today's society. This Constitution must be changed. Kurds have to see themselves as a part of this state in that Constitution. As an identity, as a cultural society they must be accepted by the Constitution.

Ahmet Turk answers the questions about the 10% threshold for elections and, again, I think the explanations he gives are truly accurate, especially in his descriptions of the various pressures brought to bear on Kurds who vote. The old cliché of "divide and conquer" should come to mind in reading this portion of the interview, nullifying any idea of free and democratic elections in Turkey for the Kurdish people. It should also come as no surprise to anyone that the major Turkish parties support the threshold because it is, in fact, a barrier serving to keep Kurds out of the Turkish parliament. Of course, if Kurds do manage to make it into Parliament they cannot be effective in working for Kurds because the threat of what happened to Leyla Zana and her colleagues is always a Turkish version of the sword of Damocles.

Both Turk and Tugluk comment on the missed opportunity in the period after Ocalan's capture. During that time, from 1999 until last year, the Turkish government did nothing to restore the situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan to anything that might resemble "normal" anywhere else. It was the perfect opportunity for the Ankara regime to prove its sincerity in solving the Kurdish problem it created, but it failed. And it is still failing. It is also hypocrisy for Ankara to blame the situation on PKK. As Ahmet Turk states:

If there wasn't a Kurdish issue today, maybe the PKK wouldn't exist, not even our party would exist. We're a democratically established party. But in fact we have a mission to solve the issue. So in accordance with the same problem the PKK also gives the same messages. The same truth is expressed by two different bodies and they say that we have organic links, but it's not true. We don't have organic ties but we have a common stance and common demands and there's a Kurdish issue that we're both trying to solve.

But the PKK has been around for years, and they chose to seek a solution by arms. So it's an existing reality. Without seeing this, acting as if there isn't such a movement, where do we go? In fact, we must be more realistic. But once we declare the truth now, we become anathema.

Aysel Tugluk's comments on the subject:

One part of society believes that he's [Ocalan's] a hero, the other part calls him a terrorist. So there's a controversy. In my opinion he's a reality, having political, social and emotional dimensions. I remember British Prime Minister Tony Blair once saying, "I can't reject the feelings of some citizens who sympathize with the IRA." So this reality must be evaluated in the right way. Instead of deepening the separation we have to try and find a compromise. You can't develop any solutions without seeing this reality. On TV I once saw a Kurd say, Even if you get rid of the PKK, what will you do to their sisters, brothers and parents? A new group will take its place.' I believe that the PKK or Ocalan aren't the reasons but the results. And the results stem from reasons.

Indeed, PKK and Ocalan are the results and the realities and there is no way to erase them from the political life of North Kurdistan. Their influence will be there for a very long time to come. Mention is made of the Armenian conference this past summer, and the recognition of what happened to the Armenians is closely tied, I believe, to the present Kurdish situation. If Turkey can come to terms with the genocide of the Armenians at the beginning of the last century, it is on its way to coming to terms with the present Kurdish situation at the beginning of this century.

In the meantime, Turkey is begging the CIA for intelligence information to continue its fight against PKK. Of course, it will be impossible for either to wipe away all remnants of PKK because it will be impossible for either to de-politicize the Kurdish people. The genie has been out of the bottle for a long time.

By the way, there's another NEWSFLASH from The New Anatolian. Apparently, the PKK is no longer the most serious threat to Turkish society's unity and peace. . . the most serious threat is the fact that 16,000 mosques in Turkey do not have imams! I kid you not, check it out, from those fun guys at the Religious Affairs Directorate:

'16,000 mosques don't have imams. This is the most serious threat'

Maybe Erdogan can get the CIA to investigate and then share intelligence over this very serious threat.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I just came across something from a Turkish blog that has really made me laugh.

Litmus at Aegean Disclosure, makes some great comments on the recent psychosocial rant--inspired, I suspect, by Erdogan's revelation of sub-identities within Turkey--of a former Turkish ambassador to Japan in a commentary piece from Turkish Daily News.

The section of the rant in question is found in the last paragraph of the TDN commentary:

As we were defeating the PKK, we were wary of offending our Kurdish brethren, so we refrained from criticizing the Kurds. We refrained from saying how primitive the tribal structure and the status of women in their culture. We did not try to prevent the politically motivated population growth. We said, This entire homeland is yours. We concealed our knowledge that their myths about their glorious history were a fabrication. In the end they have mustered the audacity to claim that they are one of the two founding groups of this state.

And now we want our togetherness to continue on the basis of this falsehood.

Litmus' response:

Yes, it's true the State didn't criticise the Kurds enough, this might have something to do with the fact that it was occassionally busy supporting religious fundamentalist outfits in order to fight the PKK. And then one has the audacity to claim that their tribal structure and treatment of women is somehow unique when the state was supporting those who dabbled in the virtues of honor killings. One can hardly begin to decrypt the vileness that is contained in the phrase "We did not try to prevent the politically motivated population growth." What did you have in mind? A Modest Proposal? In here lies the belief that the Kurds are going to multiply in droves and take over the entire country while the country lies helpless as its hands are mercilessy tied behind its back by...democracy. Who, after all, needs the PKK when you can get it on, all night long? Democracy for Gunduz Aktan is so fragile and pathetic that sheer population growth is going to make Turks slaves to those redneck myth-fabricating Kurds he hates so much (and whose redneckness and tribal customs don't seem to prevent them from being so wonderfully Machiavellian). Way to go, retard.

It's great to see such a clean slash through the BS, but I swear I'm still laughing, particularly over the comment on the need for the PKK! Bijît, Litmus û gelek sipas!

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." ~ Albert Einstein.

A friend passed me an article from the WSJ editorial page which, although it was written before the ratification of the Iraqi constitution, is still an excellent analysis of the position of Iraq vis-a-vis the Arab world. Fans of Kanan Makiya will love Fouad Ajami's article Heart of Darkness: From Zarqawi to the man on the street, Sunni Arabs fear Shiite emancipation.

Both men are from Shi'a backgrounds, one Iraqi and the other Lebanese, and perhaps this accounts for the similarity of their views on the situation in Iraq. I could not help being reminded of Kanan Makiya's excellent Cruelty and Silence as I read the piece by Ajami.

The remarkable thing about the terror in Iraq is the silence with which it is greeted in other Arab lands. Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his due: He has been skilled at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in that fabled Arab street and the moral emptiness of so much of official Arab life. [. . . .] Zarqawi is a bigot and a killer, but he did not descend from the sky. He emerged out of the Arab world's sins of omission and commission; in the way he rails against the Shiites (and the Kurds) he expresses that fatal Arab inability to take in "the other." [. . . .] Zarqawi's war, it has to be conceded, is not his alone; he kills and maims, he labels the Shiites rafida (rejecters of Islam), he charges them with treason as "collaborators of the occupiers and the crusaders," but he can be forgiven the sense that he is a holy warrior on behalf of a wider Arab world that has averted its gaze from his crimes, that has given him its silent approval.

In other words, Zarqawi has become the new "al ra'ees," the new Saddam, the same as the old Saddam, risen up from the moral quagmire of the greater Arab world which never condemned the old Saddam for his brutality and atrocities against Iraqis. The silence was deafening then and it is deafening now, and the silence is abetted by the Arab world's appeasers in Europe and the UN, as Kanan Makiya describes in an interview with The Middle East Quarterly:

MEQ: Can the United Nations or Europe assist with reconciliation in coming years?

Makiya: From the Iraqi point-of-view, every involvement of the United Nations has been negative. But it is desirable to have the appearance of U.N. involvement. We need to break the isolation that currently exists, with the United States and a handful of other countries shouldering the burden of the Iraq project. The silence of the Europeans, the negative role of the United Nations—the fact that neither did anything for the people of Iraq during their historic elections—is shameful. The United Nations' and European hearts are just not in the Iraq project. That is unlikely to change in the near future. They might feel it necessary to make some effort, but it will always be halfhearted. In that sense I would say that the European countries, and particularly France, Germany, and the U.N. have actually given succor and assistance indirectly and unwittingly to the insurgents in Iraq. That is a shameful blot on their record.

Is the silence of the Arab world a surprise to Iraqis? Read the next question and Makiya's answer in the interview:

MEQ: Have any of the states neighboring Iraq played a more helpful role?

Makiya: None. None at all. There is no doubt about this whatsoever: We never expected to have friends in the region, and we still don't.

This year everyone saw the Arab League snaking its way into Baghdad to ingratiate itself with the new government for the sole purpose of lending support to the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq, a minority that is still sore from losing its position of privilege and power within Iraqi society, as Mr. Ajami writes:

For the diehards [Ba'athi], Iraq is now a "stolen country" delivered into the hands of subject communities unfit to rule. Though a decided minority, the Sunni Arabs have a majoritarian mindset and a conviction that political dominion is their birthright. Instead of encouraging a break with the old Manichaean ideologies, the Arab world beyond Iraq feeds this deep-seated sense of historical entitlement. No one is under any illusions as to what the Sunni Arabs would have done had oil been located in their provinces. They would have disowned both north and south and opted for a smaller world of their own and defended it with the sword.

Mr. Ajami is to the point with his remarks on Jordan and Egypt. One day, I hope that the Sunni triangle will belong to Jordan so that King Abdullah, formerly a great supporter of the old Saddam, can battle for control of his enlarged country with his Jordanian brother from Zarqa, the new Saddam. In fact, the battle for Jordan has already begun with Zarqawi's claim of responsibility for the recent Amman bombings. As for Egypt, I do not forget Egypt's role in the Anfal campaign . . . nor will I ever forgive it. More about that can be read at this article too.

A final word, this one about Mr. Ajami's observations about the American role in Iraq:

Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them.

US Department of State Arabists bear their share of responsibility for the Great Arab Silence. They have willingly immersed themselves in the filth of Arab nationalist ideology, the epitome of which is Ba'athism, and they stink of it. For examples of how well the Arabists have integrated Arab racism into their mindsets and world view, one can check an article by Peter Galbraith or one by Ralph Peters.

Like the Sunni Arabs they support, the DOS Arabist has also integrated that sense of superiority, privilege and elitism which blinds them to the fact that not all peoples are willing to do as they are ordered. The Shi'a in Iraq are going to act in their own interests, doing what they want to do and this won't necessarily be the same things that the Sunni Arabs and the DOS want. Furthermore, it is utter stupidity for the DOS Arabists to think that Southern Kurds have fought since 1961 for US interests, Sunni Arab/Arab League interests, Iraqi interests or any interests except Kurdish interests.

Neither the Kurds nor the Shi'a are inclined to be obedient to Amr Moussa's lackeys in the DOS.