Withdraw Without Condition
By Bashdar Ismaeel
Turkey enters Iraq for "revenge", the wider context
is overlooked once more
October 24, 2011
As Turkey enters Iraq for "revenge", the wider
context is overlooked once more. A chilling and
coordinated attack by PKK rebels that led to the
death of at least 24 Turkish soldiers and many
wounded sent shockwaves throughout Turkey.
Such was the determination for a harsh response that
the Turkish army quickly launched a massive ground
invasion of Kurdistan on yet another quest to defeat
the rebels. "A large-scale land operation, backed by
air strikes, has begun in five separate spots inside
Turkey and across the border with 22 battalions,"
the military general staff said in a statement.
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel, senior UK Editor.
Turkish president, Abdullah Gul had vowed "revenge"
and a stern response under a watchful and enraged
public eye. The harsh Turkish reprisal may benefit
the PKK as it means a renewed straining of ties
between Ankara and Erbil, places the Iraqi Kurds
into a difficult corner and simultaneously
diminishes the chances of a political resolution to
the Kurdish problem in Turkey.
The President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud
Barzani, strongly condemned the latest attacks while
labeling the event as a "crime". With Nechirvan
Barzani already in Ankara, the common theme was to
soothe Turkish tensions and reinforce brotherhood
between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region. However,
ultimately Ankara would not be swayed from its
intent to show the PKK and possibly even Erbil just
who calls the shots in the region.
Clashes between troops and rebels have intensified
in the aftermath of the recent national elections in
Turkey, resulting in significant aerial bombardment
and shelling by Turkish forces in the border regions
in recent months. However, the manner of the recent
attacks, which coincided with the establishment of a
committee to oversee the rewriting of the Turkish
constitution, sent alarm bells ringing in Ankara and
under a cloud of public anger forced the Turkish
government to respond with strong measures.
The attacks by rebels resulted in the biggest
military death toll since 1993 and were met with
international wide condemnation.
As many political powers renewed their support for
the Turkish quest to eradicate the rebels, there is
a great danger that once again Turkey and its allies
are overlooking the wider context of events.
Such was the nature of the attack that none would
expect Turkey remain idle but it is easy for foreign
powers to look at this as an individual incident
rather than with the framework that the issue
This is a deep-rooted, emotively-charged and bloody
27-year war that has cost in excess of 40,000 lives,
billions of dollars, destruction of villages and
caused immense mental scarring. This is the not the
first attack and certainly not the last. History has
clearly proved the limits of military power even for
the second largest army in NATO.
As long as the Kurdish political actors in Turkey
remain weak and the Kurds are deprived of real
political representation, the PKK will continue to
act as the default flag-bearer of the Kurds,www.ekurd.net
even if it does not necessarily represent the
greater will of the Kurdish population. The growing
focus on PKK as the source of the Kurdish problem
and the ongoing energy consumed by the government to
defeat the rebels as a way to overcome the Kurdish
issue places the Kurds into a difficult predicament.
The greater Kurdish population yearns for peace and
not violence and is tired and frustrated from
decades of political, social and economic handicaps
that the ongoing conflict has caused.
Turkey has acted against the PKK and this is a
natural retaliation for any government, however, it
needs to urgently employ a dual approach whereby it
also reassures the greater Kurdish population of the
Turkish will for fraternity, to solve their age old
Kurdish dilemma, that the democratic opening remains
a priority and that the government does not intend
to punish all Kurds for the actions of a few.
The era of violence in the pursuit of political
goals has certainly diminished but Turkey must also
prove that it has turned the page not just in words
but also in practical steps.
The Turkish state belongs to both the Kurds and
Turks and this is a fact that nothing can mask. Only
true reconciliation and brotherhood can propel
Turkey to the heights it intends to achieve and
mentalities and policies of the past can never
exclusively disadvantage the Kurdish populated south
eastern part of Turkey.
The Kurds can be factor that fuels a new strategic
strength of Turkey in Europe and Asia or it can be
factor that will indefinitely blight and drag the
whole of Turkey as a "sick power".
As emotions run dangerously high in Turkey, it is of
paramount importance that the US, European and
regional powers act as a blanket of comfort to both
Turks and Kurds. Obliterating the Iraqi Kurdistan
regional areas with a show of firepower will never
achieve Turkish goals. If a military solution was
such a viable reality all these years, why would
Turkey wait until 2011 and thousands of lives later
to resolve this issue?
US President Barrack Obama, whilst harshly
condemning the attacks in Turkey, emphasizes that
"...the Turkish people, like people everywhere,
deserve to live in peace, security and dignity."
While Obama's statement is valid, there should not
be hesitation by world powers to utter the word
"Kurds" in the same breath.
There should be a distinct emphasis on the equal
rights of the Kurdish population to live in peace,
security and within the framework of international
charters. While Turkey has made a number of strides
in this regard, it is by no means at the level
expected for a global power that is actively seeking
to expand its sphere of influence.
Turkey continues to live under fear of its
significant Kurdish minority rather than embracing
them as a true and integral component of the state.
At the same time, the Kurds look towards Turkey with
distrust and lack of conviction.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasised the
necessity for both Iraq and Turkey to work together
to end what he deemed as "unacceptable" cross-border
attacks by Kurdish PKK rebels. Ban's insistence that
the sovereignty of both Turkey and Iraq must be
respected was a welcome step. This matter is not
simply about appeasing angry or nationalistic
sentiments in Ankara, the matter has far greater
ramifications across the region.
Within Turkey itself, the much maligned BDP found
itself engrossed in the cross fire yet again. It has
been subject to heavy criticism by the Turkish
government which has culminated in an all time low
for relations between both parties as a result of
the Kurdish boycott of parliament and the subsequent
unilateral declaration of democratic autonomy in the
BDP co-chairpersons Gülten Kışanak and Selahattin
Demirtaş called for peace as the only solution in a
written statement, "We say 'enough' to this war and
these deaths. The painful picture today once again
shows that Turkey urgently needs peace..."
In spite of calls for unity and reconciliation by
the BDP, the AKP government quickly poured water on
any air of sincerity or warmth generated by such
overtures by once again branding the BDP and the PKK
with the same brush.
The AKP, which still received a large portion of
Kurdish votes, should not renege on its promise to
implement its democratic opening or to focus on
developing the south eastern region. The idea that
there is no longer a Kurdish problem but a terrorism
problem is wrong. The so-called terrorist issue
comes from the Kurdish problem the Kurdish problem
does not come from the terrorism issue.
One of the main reasons for the stalling of the
democratic opening was the increasing nationalist
resistance in Turkey. The rising hawkish voices
ensure that the hands of the government become
restrained and progress reverses rather than making
any significant strides forward.
As Turkey answers Kurdish rebels with a strong fist,
it must also show the Kurds that it will not forsake
their rights, demands and voices for the sake of the
appeasing only the Turkish sentiments.
More importantly, Turkey should do all it can to
respect the sovereignty of the KRG and withdraw
First Published On: Kurdish Globe
Other Primary Sources of Republication: eKurd.net,
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel is a London-based freelance
writer and analyst,
contributing writer for ekurd.net website.
Ismaeel whose primary focus and
expertise is on the Kurds, Iraq and Middle Eastern
current affairs. The main focus of his writing is to
promote peace, justice and increase awareness of the
diversity, suffering and at times explosive mix in
Iraq and the Middle East.
Most recently he has produced work for the
Washington Examiner, Asian Times, The Epoch Times,
Asia News, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Kurdish Globe,
Hewler Post, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), KurdishMedia, PUK Online and OnlineOpinion.
He has achieved seminar recommended readings for Le
High University (Pennsylvania) and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. His work has been
republished extensively elsewhere on the Internet.
You may reach the author via email at:
, Bashdar's website
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