september 18, 2022
“What appears to many as Turkey’s foreign policy success is in fact the sellout of the country´s political, social and economic resources”
An interview with the Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union (KCK) Zagros Hîwa:
Turkey appears militarily strong and successful in foreign policy, including within NATO. Does the guerrilla resistance have a chance of success in the long term?
The Turkish military is highly dependent on NATO in strategic, tactical and technological terms. In the Middle East, Turkey acts as a proxy for NATO. Without their approval and support, it is extremely difficult for Turkey to make a move militarily as well as politically. Its interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Armenia, and Ukraine are in line with the policies of the Western military alliance. It has proven to be an extremely flexible tool for NATO and uses this status to buy the silence of NATO and EU member countries. Under the cloak of this silence, it practices terror against the Kurdish people, women, youth and all democratic forces in Turkey.
What appears to many as Turkey’s foreign policy success is in fact the sellout of the coutry´s political, social and economic resources to secure the dictatorial rule of the powerful elites at the expense of democracy, freedom and human rights. What happened at the NATO summit in Madrid appeared on the surface to be a successful attempt by Turkey to impose the anti-Kurdish policy on Sweden and Finland. The dispute over the extradition of Kurds was only a sham. Sweden has always been an integral part of NATO policy against the Kurdish freedom movement. The country is the stage on which the plot surrounding the classification of the PKK as a terrorist organization after the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme by Gladio was played out in 1986.
What happened in Madrid was, in fact, ever greater concessions by Turkey to NATO. Turkey accepted all the conditions of the Western military alliance related to regional and international politics. Turkish policy followed the motto of “repression at home and concessions in foreign policy.” In order to consolidate his authoritarian and fascist power at home, Erdoğan has recently invited to his palace the man he accused of murdering Jamal Khashoggi, he has invited to his palace the Israeli president, the man he accused of murdering Palestinians, and he has accepted all the conditions of the president of the United Arab Emirates, his long-time rival. These are Erdoğan’s political and economic concessions to foreign powers in order to secure his one-man rule over Turkey in foreign policy terms.
The Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla has been putting up resistance against the attacks of NATO’s second largest army for 38 years. The guerrilla’s war constitutes the self-defense of the Kurdish people against the genocidal policies of the Turkish state. The guerrilla resistance has exposed the true anti-democratic, fascist, sectarian, jihadist and genocidal character of the Turkish nation-state system against the Kurds and all other ethnic and religious identities living in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. This struggle has also protected the peoples of the Middle East and all humanity from the terror of the radical jihadist proxies of the Turkish state, al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS). The attacks of Erdoğan’s army and its proxies in Iraq and Syria against the Kurdish people and the self-defense forces are in fact an act of revenge against them, because they have defeated IS and thus destroyed Erdoğan’s neo-Ottoman dreams. In this sense, the Kurdish freedom guerrillas have succeeded in thwarting Erdoğan’s internal and regional plans. This is a legitimate struggle that stems from a just cause, the cause of freedom and democracy. Regardless of Turkish attacks, this struggle will continue and inspire all oppressed peoples of the Middle East while also protecting them from radical Salafist ideologies and their policies.
South Kurdish/North Iraqi NGOs have repeatedly pointed out the serious consequences of Turkish military attacks on civilians. What are the consequences of the war?
Since 1983, when the first cross-border occupation by Turkey into South Kurdistan/North Iraq took place, hundreds of civilians have been killed by the Turkish army. In particular, since Erdoğan announced the end of the peace process on July 24, 2015, 138 civilians have been killed and over 200 wounded by Turkish bombardments. More than 800 villages have been evacuated and tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and are now living as internally displaced persons. These villagers conduct agriculture, beekeeping, and animal husbandry, usually growing fruits, vegetables, and food on the most fertile soils of South Kurdistan and the Middle East, thus contributing greatly to the local and national economy. The attacks of the Turkish occupiers have destroyed this economic and social life. Great damage has been done to nature. These areas, now occupied, are the ecologically richest regions of the Middle East with a great natural diversity, a habitat for many animals and plants.
For years, millions of trees, plants and animals have been reduced to rubble every year by Turkey’s bombardments. An environmental disaster is taking place in the areas conquered by Turkey. The entire terrain is set on fire to burn the trees. Trees spared from the fire are cut down by the Turkish army, loaded onto trucks and sold in Turkey.
The use of chemical, thermobaric (vacuum bombs), and tactical nuclear weapons by the Turkish army in this area also has disastrous long-term consequences for all of Iraq and the Middle East. The effects of these weapons, chemicals and radiation, will affect the lives of generations, comparable to the effects of the chemical weapons attack on Helebce by the Saddam army.
I quote a cab driver I once spoke to in South Kurdistan: “What good is my Kurdish identity if the politicians sell the country?” Is the KDP really selling South Kurdistan to Turkey?
After the Treaty of Lausanne, a system of denial, assimilation and annihilation was imposed on Kurdistan. The Kurds were denied any national democratic rights and were left to assimilate into the four nation-states of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Those who resisted against denial and assimilation became victims of massacres and genocide. The social, cultural and historical background of the Kurdish people led to ever new uprisings and resistance to the existential threats they faced. The international system found itself unable to contain the Kurds’ never-ending struggle for their identity and for democratic rights, and a solution seemed to rely on a collaborative force within the Kurds themselves, thus dividing them socially, culturally and politically. As a consequence, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) was founded to play the role of the Trojan horse within the Kurdish people. Since its establishment, it has been used against the Kurds’ struggles for freedom in the four parts of Kurdistan. It has been pitted against the Kurds fighting for their freedom in Rojhilat [“East”: East Kurdistan/Northwest Iran] and collaborated with the Iranian regime in suppressing the Kurds’ freedom struggle there. Many Rojhilat politicians were kidnapped, killed or extradited to Iran. In 1980-1985, the KDP became the Iranian regime’s cannon fodder and collaborated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the fight against the Kurds, especially Komala (Society of Revolting Toilers of Iranian Kurdistan) and HDKI (Democratic Party of Kurdistan in Iran). In Iraq, the KDP collaborated with Saddam Hussein, the butcher of Helebce and initiator of the Anfal operations, to fight the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and other political forces in Başûr [“South”: South Kurdistan/North Iraq]. From 1992 to 2022, i.e., for 30 years, the KDP has cooperated with the Turkish state to suppress the Kurdish freedom struggle and the PKK in Bakur [“North”: North Kurdistan/Southeast Turkey]. Since 2012, the KDP has been an integral and indispensable part of the Turkish state’s attacks on Rojava [“West”: West Kurdistan/Northeast Syria]. The KDP was the first to dig trenches to isolate Rojava from South Kurdistan. In an attempt to completely encircle Rojava, the KDP made a dirty deal with IS and delivered Şengal (Sinjar) to radical jihadist terrorist:s who perpetrated a massacre against the Ezidi population, killing more than 10,000 people and enslaving more than 5,000 women. For all these crimes against the Kurds, the KDP has never been held accountable by international forces.
While all those who collaborated with Saddam and IS have been classified as terrorists by the “international community”, the KDP has never been held accountable. It was even rewarded for all the crimes it committed against the Kurds. This shows that the KDP is not a Kurdish force fighting for the freedom of the Kurds, but a collaborating force mandated by the “international community” to act against the freedom struggles of the Kurds in the four parts of Kurdistan.
Thus, the existence of the KDP depends on its collaboration with the enemies of the Kurds. The stronger the freedom struggle in one part of Kurdistan, the more clearly the true character of the KDP is revealed to the Kurdish public. In its current state, it has no relations whatsoever with the Kurdish struggle for freedom and democracy. Supported by the supporters of the Lausanne Treaty, it tries to portray itself as a representative of the Kurdish cause. But the opposite is the case. It abuses the Kurdish cause only for its own interests, especially for the interests of the Barzanî family. The KDP, which is dominated by the Barzanî family, is willing to sell Kurdish land and all Kurdish political and cultural resources without reservation in order to ensure the family’s survival. Among the people, Mulla Mustafa Barzanî is characterized with the words, “Kurdishness is as valuable as the dust on your shoes,” and Idris Mustafa Barzanî with the words, “We cannot build bridges, but we can easily destroy bridges. We cannot make a revolution, but we can easily destroy revolutions.”
What future does the KDP see for itself in a Kurdistan occupied by Turkey?
To ensure its own survival, the KDP relies not on the Kurdish people, but on the enemies of the Kurds. The KDP is currently the extended arm of the Turkish state’s anti-Kurdish policy. Thus, it does whatever the enemies of the Kurds tell it to do, but it has acquired an outstanding expertise in disguising its betrayal and breach of trust as patriotism and Kurdishness. It is ready to sacrifice the Kurdish cause in the four parts of Kurdistan for its own survival. Turkey is using this policy of the KDP to present itself as an enemy not of the Kurds but of the PKK, YPG (People’s Defense Units), PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan), etc.
We know that Armenians were victims of genocide in the Middle East, and the survivors were awarded a small territory in present-day Armenia. Today, 106 years after this genocide, we see the same approach being pursued against the Kurds. The “international community” wants to create a small enclave in South Kurdistan under the leadership of the KDP and the Barzanî family, but at the expense of the Kurdish population in all other parts of Kurdistan, which is subjected to political, cultural and even physical genocide. The Barzanîs have no problem with the genocide against the Kurds in the other parts of Kurdistan. They are even willing to support this genocide. This is the core of the KDP’s policy against North Kurdistan and Rojava. It legitimizes and whitewashes all the crimes that the Turkish state commits against the Kurds in North Kurdistan and Rojava and even in South Kurdistan. Today, the KDP is politically, economically, socially, culturally and militarily more intertwined with Turkey than with Iraq. It considers itself the “Turkish Republic of North Iraq” belonging to Turkey and sees itself in the same role as the “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus” in relation to Turkey.
In recent months, a KDP delegation held talks with parties and politicians in the German Bundestag. One focus of the talks was apparently the claim that they stand between the Turkish state and the PKK. Therefore, they argued, it was not possible for the KDP to take a stand against Turkey’s attacks. In your opinion, what is the role of the KDP in the current war in South Kurdistan?
This is an argumentation developed to cover up the KDP’s cooperation with the Turkish state and to whitewash the Turkish state’s crimes against the Kurds and especially against the Kurdistan Freedom Guerrilla. Even if we assume that their argumentation is true, they should not take sides with any of the actors in the conflict between Turkey and the PKK.
But we see that they are actively cooperating with the Turkish army in its war of occupation against South Kurdistan. They have allowed it to establish more than 100 bases in the region. The Turkish army is free to move its troops to any of these bases from anywhere, by air or ground. Most of the Turkish army bases are protected and guarded by KDP forces. The KDP’s intelligence service, Parastin, provides vital sensitive data to the Turkish intelligence service, MIT, and the Turkish army. This data is used for drone and air strikes on guerrilla positions. Whatever crimes the Turkish army commits against civilians, the KDP does everything it can to whitewash them, even attributing these crimes to the PKK. For example, in a resort near Barmerne, two children were killed by shelling from the Turkish base there. Despite the testimonies of civilians and the families of those killed, KDP authorities and media close to the KDP insisted that the PKK had killed these children.
In addition, 138 civilians have been killed by Turkish bombs and shells in South Kurdistan so far. The KDP-Parastin and Asayîş (security forces) interfere in the wording of autopsy reports and insist that the description of the cause of death be changed from “Turkish bombardment” to “simple explosion.” They do not want Turkey to be charged with crimes against humanity and against the Kurds in the future.
How does the KDP deal with the PKK? It has imposed a complete embargo on all areas where the guerrilla forces have bases. The guerrilla fighters are not allowed to move from one area to another. They are not allowed to buy food and ammunition for themselves. When the guerrillas break this embargo and want to move from one area to another, the KDP ambushes them and kills the fighters. Last year, two groups of guerrilla fighters were ambushed by the KDP in the Xelîfan area, and ten of them lost their lives. They were only moving from one area (Qendîl) to another (Zap) at night, using routes not frequently used by the civilian population. The KDP did not tolerate this. But Turkish soldiers are moving by the thousands and even using KDP equipment and KDP vehicles. The KDP is moving its troops into the heart of guerrilla areas under the protection of Turkish drones and warplanes. The goal is to provoke an internal Kurdish struggle and mobilize the people and the Peshmerga of South Kurdistan against the guerrilla forces.
The KDP has imposed complete censorship on media coverage about the Turkish state’s attacks. No independent journalists or human rights activists are allowed to visit the combat zone. Local media have been ordered not to report on the Turkish occupation operations. On the other hand, any false news and fabricated information about the guerrillas published in the Turkish mainstream media is immediately picked up without verification by the media in South Kurdistan. The KDP has turned the media there into a tool of Turkey’s psychological warfare against the Kurds, manipulating perceptions of reality.
So far, three international delegations have come to South Kurdistan to visit the areas where chemical weapons have been used. They have all called for an independent investigation. But all of these groups have been denied access to the affected areas, and members have been deported to their countries.
What is happening on the ground is the KDP’s full collaboration with the Turkish army and its sinister hostility towards the Kurdistan Freedom Movement.
This interview was first published in the magazine ´Kurdistan Report´.