Close confidantes in the fight against the PKK

Turkey's preparations for war in southern Kurdistan continue unabated. The aim is to extend the last Turkish military operation, which began in the Heftanin region in June, to other areas along the Turkish-Iraqi border, writes Ferda Çetin.

Turkey's preparations for war in southern Kurdistan continue unabated. The aim is to extend the last Turkish military operation, which began in the Heftanin region in June, to other areas along the Turkish-Iraqi border.

In essence, it is about preparing a new war between Turkey and the PKK. But the former wants to start this war with the help of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (Partiya Demokrata Kurdistanê; KDP for short). This plan was ultimately developed by the US. In August of this year, a US delegation visited the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the two most important political centers of southern Kurdistan, the cities of Hewlêr (Erbil) and Silêmanî (Sulaimaniyya).

The delegation held talks there with the aim of winning over Baghdad and the Silêmanî-based Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Yekêtiy Nîştimaniy Kurdistan; short YNK) for the alliance between Turkey and the Hewlêr-based KDP. The KDP and PUK are the two dominant parties in South Kurdistan. Although they are officially part of a government alliance, South Kurdistan is in fact divided into two areas of rule. The region close to Turkey around Hewlêr, Dihok and Zaxo (Zakho) is controlled by the KDP, while the YNK controls the cities of Silêmanî, Helebce (Halabdscha) and Ranya including their surrounding areas along the Iranian border.

The fact that the KDP and the Barzani family [1] are currently working so resolutely and longingly towards a war can be explained by the strong support and comprehensive protection they are given by the USA. However, the KDP and Turkey are united by concerns about how closely the newly elected US government will stick to the agreements made. With January 20, 2021 - the end of Trump's term of office - in view, they want to start the war as soon as possible.

The KDP leadership, bypassing parliament and its own coalition partners in the government of southern Kurdistan, the parties PUK and Gorran, made the decision to go to war together with Turkey against the PKK. Aware that this agreement, apart from the KDP circles themselves, would not be approved by any political parties, intellectuals, writers or society itself, a fait accompli was created.

The society of South Kurdistan understands the KDP decision as a collaboration with the enemy and as a legitimation of the Turkish occupation of South Kurdish soil. The Barzani family and the PDK leadership know that best. It is therefore necessary for them to deny their collaboration and to disguise it with various excuses. Almost on a daily basis KDP-affiliated South Kurdish media outlets such as Rudaw and Kurdistan24 let representatives and supporters of the KDP give statements accusing the PKK of murders, attack plans and carried out attacks on the Peshmerga. In practically all of these reports it is claimed that the PKK wants to occupy southern Kurdistan, is against Kurdish self-determination and would actually only fight for the independence of northern Kurdistan (south-east Turkey).

Hiding facts, manipulation and disinformation are not enough to cover up the collaboration with Turkey. Because the developments on the ground and the widespread use of modern means of communication weaken the disinformation efforts of the KDP. So far the KDP has neither won the official support of its government partners for the planned war nor has it been able to prevent influential civil society organizations such as the KNC (Kurdistan National Congress) or hundreds of artists and intellectuals from speaking out against a war by organizing a signature campaign.

The driving forces behind the current plan know very well that a joint war by Turkey and the KDP against the PKK will be unsuccessful as long as the southern Kurdish population speaks out against the war. When KDP forces tried to advance into a PKK guerrilla camp in the Gare region near the southern Kurdish city of Akre on November 4th and tensions arose as a result, the USA immediately declared in an official statement: “We condemn the terror of the PKK directed against the KDP forces “[2]. 

Shortly afterwards, the French State Department practically repeated the US statement in full [3]. All of this takes place in the context of efforts to support the collaboration between Turkey and KDP and to create the necessary public support for it. In the context of the current preparations for war it is very likely that such statements will follow every new provocation by KDP forces against the guerrilla areas.

The USA, Turkey and the KDP have agreed to work together to smash the PKK. That is why Turkey's war, which is contrary to international law, is tolerated by the international community. The western states are silent about the massacres carried out by armed drones of the Turkish army against the Kurdish guerrillas in southern Kurdistan, the defense units in Shengal and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, Quwwāt Sūriyā ad-dīmuqrāṭīya; Kurdish: Hêzên Sûriya Demokratîk) and even directly support to the production of combat drones.

The KDP`s biggest problem right now is the lack of social support for the planned war. Neither the South Kurdish parliament, nor the government, other parties or the people of South Kurdistan want this war. On the contrary, society demands that the KDP not stand on the side of Turkey, but instead fight together with the PKK against the Turkish occupation, should the war between Turkey and the PKK guerrillas escalate even more. The Barzani family has no other option but to try to establish legitimacy for their collaboration with Turkey. That is why Mesrur and Mesut Barzani have been on an ‘anti-PKK tour’ through Europe since November 9th, in order to convince the European countries to take action. Their first stop was the Netherlands, where Mesrur Barzani held talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Current relationships and practical steps make it clear what concerns will be raised in these talks. Mesrur Barzani and his delegation will claim that the PKK does not recognize the rule of the South Kurdish government, the guerrillas are attacking the security forces of the KDP and that South Kurdish villages are being forcefully depopulated by the PKK. That is why they will demand that the PKK must be expelled from South Kurdistan. Consequently, they will call on the states and governments to condemn the PKK officially.

Because of their trade relations and daily political advantages, the interlocutors of Mesut and Mesrur Barzani could react positively to their demands. But they will carefully note that a Kurdish party is entering into an alliance with its traditional enemies to drive another Kurdish party out of Kurdistan. The current situation is clear. But there are definitely voices who are keen to distort and obscure these clear relationships in order to legitimize the Turkey-KDP alliance.

Hüseyin Alptekin, member of the Turkish research and PR organization SETA, wrote in an article on November 7, 2020 about the current Turkish efforts in South Kurdistan: “The more tensions between the KDP and PKK increase, the more extensive will the secret service support of the PDK for Turkey be. At the same time, numerous other advantages will arise. In addition, efforts to use the proximity of Turkey and the KDP to portray Turkey as a `Kurdish enemy’ will be counteracted. The message that Turkey has a problem with the PKK will be reinforced."

The Turkish cooperation with the KDP is not a long-term, strategic or even friendly undertaking. It is a relationship that serves Turkey to rebut the growing international opinion that Turkey is an enemy of all Kurds. The KDP and its supporters are currently eagerly trying to cover up their complicity in the Turkish crimes and to correct the bad image created by their collaboration with Turkey. The more the Kurds, together with their many friends around the world, stand against this warmongering collaboration, the more the KDP-Turkey agreement will fail and ultimately land on the rubbish heap of history as yet another piece of evidence of the KDP`s betrayal.

[1] Members of the Barzani family occupy central positions in the South Kurdish Autonomous Administration. The most prominent examples of this are Prime Minister Mesrur Barzani and the current South Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani. Former President Mesut Barzani also continues to have great political influence. The KDP is in fact a party of the Barzani family, which has its own armed militias independent of the official Peshmerga forces.



Source:  Yeni Özgür Politika