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Tanks (photo from http://www.taz.de) overlooking the Syrian town of Kobani (Ain Al-Arab) under attack by the Islamist Fascist ISIS gangs.
Is this another type of a Bosnian Srebrenica in the making?
Failure to act now, is the failure of a dying NATO/United States Alliance thanks to the failing or absence of leadership of all sides including the corrupt United Nations (UN) despite non inspiring rhetoric to the contrary.
While the Turkish Government is playing a power game with their own Kurdish population, as they have over the last decades, this time they are playing with a coming internal civil war, in their foolish attempt to reshape that part of the Middle East in Ottoman fashion. A new Kurdish State will emerge one way or another.
For about a week in Kurdish cities in Turkey, rocks and tear gas cartridges litter the streets. Kurdish demonstrators are protesting what they claim is a soft position of Turkey in the fight against “Islamic state” (ISIS). During the Turkish riots, 37 people have been killed, including police officers. In Istanbul (Turkey) ISIS-sympathizers attacked Kurdish students that had organized an Anti ISIS information stand. A few weeks earlier, ISIS-supporters had gathered for a peaceful prayer meeting in an Istanbul Park. They were unmolested by the police. In contrast, the police used water cannons and tear gas against Kurdish demonstrators.
Not only are supporters of ISIS attacking Kurdish protestors, but in addition Kurdish PKK – Kurdish Workers Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan) supporters and anti Kurdish Turkish Nationalists, as well as, the Islamist so-called Kurdish Hizbullah are involved in these internal violent protests and riots. Most people died in the street fighting between the PKK and Hizbollah supporters.
To better understand this expanding conflict, here is an overview culled from mostly German news sites identifying the actors and their relative positions within Turkish society.
The Turkish Government: The conservative Islamist AKP party has an absolute majority in Parliament. Its members include President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. On the one hand, the government claims it supports the international coalition against terror group ISIS, finally now apparently allowing the US to fly missions from the US Incirlick airbase in Turkey. The Parliament also voted for a mandate that legitimizes the use of ground troops in Iraq and Syria. The overthrow of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who in the past supported the Turkish Kurds is considered Erdoğan’s ultimate goal. Turkey has taken in almost one million refugees from Syria including Kurds.
In response to the violence, Erdoğan wants to introduce a bill in Parliament on Tuesday October 14, “to clean these vandals of the streets”. He criticizes the predominantly Kurdish demonstrators for endangering the internal security of Turkey. He blames the protests, according to the government newspaper Hurriyet Daily News on “an international media group,” Syria and the political opposition.
The Turkish Armed Forces are considered one of the strongest NATO armies with 510,000 soldiers which includes 100,000 para military police forces. Strong in manpower but with a lot of older equipment including 50 year old tanks and an aged command structure. They support the police against the Kurdish demonstrators. In the country’s southeast, in the predominantly Kurdish regions, the Turkish military negotiated a ceasefire in 2013 after decades of guerrilla type warfare with the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK.
On the border with Syria, the army keep a close watch on the PKK that wants to participate in the fight against ISIS in Kobani. The Turkish Air Force has about 350 planes mostly F-16’s, as well as, several hundred helicopters. The Turkish military industrial complex has a lot of joint ventures with, for example, Saab from Sweden and Italian defense companies aimed at setting up a pure “Turkish defense industry”. Israel plays a large role as well in assisting the Turkish military.
Kurdish activists in turn have accused the security forces of sympathizing with the ISIS terrorists. In social networks there are pictures of policemen circulating, who raise the index finger in the air, an ISIS-terrorists symbol.
Kurdish Hizbullah or Huda Par: The Kurdish Hezbollah has nothing to do with Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was founded in 1980 in the southeast of Turkey. The supporters of this terrorist organization are considered radicalized Sunni Muslims. In the 1990s, the precursor organization Hezbollah was used by the Turkish military against the PKK, but later destroyed.
The Huer Dava Partisi party is the political arm of this Kurdish Hizbullah organization. The name in Kurdish means the Party of Allah and it is a literal translation of the Arabic term Hezbollah. The goal of Hezbollah is to establish a Sunni theocracy with a legal system according to Sharia (Islamic Law). The party claims to represent Sunni Kurds, who do not feel not represented by the PKK. Ideologically this party is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.
What and who is the PKK? The PKK is the Marxist-Leninist-oriented Kurdish Workers Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan). It was founded in 1979 and for decades led an armed struggle against the Turkish military: They want more rights for the oppressed Kurdish minority and perhaps ultimately some sort of an independent state. Party leader Abdullah Ocalan is in a Turkish prison since 1999. The PKK has many political followers in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as, in Belgium among immigrant Turkish workers, is still considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, the USA and by most of Europe.
An important current goal of the PKK is the preservation of their own power position. In the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani it is primarily the YPG, an ally of the PKK doing the fighting against the ISIS-terrorists. Hundreds of Kurds from Turkey wish to participate in this fight against the ISIS terrorists and help their own Kurdish people across the border, but the Turkish army keeps a tight control. The same tight control was not maintained when members of the US supported Anti Assad Free Syrian Army were trained and armed in Turkey.
The young followers of the YDG-H, the Kurdish youth wing of the PKK are engaged in the street protest. A few days ago, in the town of Dusseldorf, Germany more than 20,000 Kurdish protestors held a peaceful rally, but in other German towns like Hamburg violent street battles between Kurds and fanatical ISIS supporters erupted with many wounded.
The Kurdish protesters are calling on the Turkish government not for military Turkish intervention in Kobani, but for an open corridor to send military and humanitarian assistance across the border to the Kurdish Syrian enclave. The “de facto leader” of the PKK, Cemil Bayik, threatened a return to guerrilla war in Turkey, should they continue to hinder the Kurds fighting the ISIS-terrorists.
Political opposition in Turkey: The largest opposition party is the Social Democrat-Kemalist CHP. The second strongest opposition force is the right-wing Turkish nationalist MHP. The pro-Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) and its sister party HDP (Democratic Party of the Peoples) put together 30 of the 548 seats in Parliament. Erdoğan accuses CHP and the Kurdish parties for not participating in its fight against what is called homegrown Kurdish terror, but to cooperate with the demonstrators.
The nationalist MHP which is on the side of the police and calls on Erdoğan and Davutoğlu to crack down on the protesters. Supporters of the MHP are accused of killing four demonstrators in the latest round of street fighting. The CHP behaves largely quiet. The BDP/HDP has called on the population for more protests but to renounce violence.
In the real world the following hard questions should be asked: Is there a difference between the independence minded PKK and the Free Syrian Army rebels opposed to the Assad regime supported by the USA.? Since when is it only the US government who can decide who can fight for a “homeland” or against a “dictator”? Again, the US finds itself on the wrong side in a conflict. It should press the Turkish government to let the Kurds help their brethren across the border preventing annihilation of Kurds and other atrocities to be committed by ISIS terrorists.
It could also support a Kurdish National homeland in parts of Syria and Iraq but this ultimately would have consequences for Turkey with its large Kurdish minorities.
It is that same US government that built the largest US embassy in the Middle East in Bagdad, Iraq and because of their past and current stupid foreign policy and poor judgement on the current President’s watch (no matter what the pencil pushing US Generals think of the situation) most likely will have to give that embassy up unless they put boots on the ground. Something that Hillary Clinton, the Former Secretary of State could have done in Benghazi but chose not to do, refusing extra security in time of need.
In the mean time, the phony war against ISIS with US led airstrikes (or are they just fly-overs?) in Syria and Iraq is continuing, mostly for public televised consumption with the aid of the corrupt collaborating American Fourth Estate, a.k.a. the Media.
The apparent US policy is to blindly assist the Saudis and the little rich sheiks in the Gulf with the protection of the Wahabi Sunni brand of the so called peace loving religion.
The real ones that are suffering in this conflict are the women and children of religious) minorities: Kurds, Yasidi ,Alewites, or plain old fashioned Christians.
Americans interested in world affairs should remember at voting time on whose watch this century’s new ethnic cleansing is taking place.
Turkey’s immediate predecessor the Ottoman Empire set a precedent 100 years ago in the region by annihilating Armenians. It is therefore no wonder that modern day Turkey with its expanding influence in the region will allow similar things to happen across the border which was once part of the Ottoman empire.
Oblivious American Jews, whose forefathers were once subject to the most heinous oppression in Europe, the Holocaust are by and large silent and 99% of them are supporters of the Democrat Party leading the US Senate.
They would not know what a modern version of Auschwitz is if it stared them in the face, but neither would the so called Born Again Christians, who do not come out to vote, nor would those sweet singing Baptists, or the do gooder silent Catholics, unless they all speak up now.
“Europeans” if they are worthy of that name can help by showing political leadership in any of the following areas:
- Not vacationing in Turkey next year or boycotting anything Turkish.
- Consider requesting the exit of Turkey from NATO.
- Assist the now outlawed PKK party by rescinding the ban.
- No entry of Turkey into the EU unless the Kurdish questions are resolved.
- Pressing for the release of the Kurdish leader Ocalan from of a Turkish Jail which would show the Kurds the magnanimous side and sincerity of the Turkish government.
American religious and political leaders should request the following from the Congress and Senate in Washington D.C.
- No financial assistance of any kind by the US Government to Turkey but instead insisting on Turkish cooperation in resolving the Turkish Kurdish Question, with the bluntness expressed and the treatment given to our other ally in the region Israel we could certainly expect the same treatment given to the Turks or are those elected US leaders measuring with a double standard perhaps?