Kurds show revulsion at Turkish attacks & Barzani calls for calm

By Shwan Zulal:

A demonstration in Erbil, Kurdistan Region’s capital was underway today, condemning the Turkish air raids on Qandil mountains and PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) bases in Kurdistan. The banners were calling for justice for the innocent seven civilians killed by the Turkish air strike. They were calling on Turkey to stop its aggression and its disregard for the Kurdistan Region’s territorial integrity.
The anger at the Turkish government reached its peak when fighter jets attacked a car killing its entire occupants, including a three-year-old child. The unsuspecting family were from Qalt-Diza area and were visiting relatives. The protest were organised by activists and civil society, condemning the killing. In Sulaimaniyah, tempers flared in Monday’s protest and Turkish flags were burned.
The simmering rage in Kurdistan has been growing at the constant shelling by Iran and the aerial bombardment by Turkey . Although there is unanimous condemnation of the aggressions by Iran and Turkey, some are angry with the PKK and PJAK( Party of Free Life of Kurdistan) for not helping in calming the situation down.
Turkey has been using inflammatory language and the Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that “our patience has finally run out… and those who do not distance themselves from terrorism will pay the price”. Erdogan’s rhetoric sounds like George Bush’s “either with us or against us” remarks, and it is common knowledge how that went down. The PM is making threats and it appears to be pointing the finger at the Kurdistan Region and BDP (Peace and Democracy Party). Although his comments may sound good for the local consumption, such language will only inflame the situation and will cost more lives.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region president, Massu’d Barzani, has been under pressure to condemn the aggression and he finally issued a statement today. In contrast to Erdogan’s threatening language, Barzani called for calm and urged all sides to refrain from further violence. He said in his statement: “These attacks have inflicted great suffering on our people in the border areas, leaving some dead and injured. They have intensified in recent days to the point that we can no longer remain silent and watch our innocent, vulnerable civilians pay the price of this fight.”
The President was also referring to the constant shelling from Iran, which has forced Kurdish residents in the border areas to flee and become homeless. He also gave a hint that if the PKK and PJAK wanting to continue their struggle, the way they want to not consider the Kurdistan Region’s security means they are not welcom in the Region, saying: “if the opposing factions have chosen and insist on the option of fighting, we ask all sides to do their fighting elsewhere and spare the Kurdistan Region”.
Kurdish politicians have a very difficult balancing act to perform: on one hand the Kurdish public are seething with anger at the Kurdish Government for not being more vocal and having a robust response to both Iran and Turkey. On the other hand, politicians in Kurdistan know that, if they go too far, they risk damaging their relations with both neighbouring countries-vital to the future of the Region, economically and politically- which they have been working on to normalise for the last two decades.
Many Kurdish activists are blaming the KRG for not responding to Turkey and Iran, but the fact remains that the Kurdistan Region is not yet the political force it aspires to be in the region.  Apart from diplomacy, it cannot use any other means to defend itself from Iranian and Turkish aggression. It has also become clear that the US supports the Turkish air raids and this leaves the KRG in a isolated position with limited options. Moreover, the Kurdistan Region has been trying to involve the Iraqi government, but to no avail. While the KRG is trying but finding it difficult to convince allies supporting it in its quest to defend the Kurdistan Region’s borders, the parties involved must realise the gravity of the situation and do their utmost to prevent future attacks.
All Kurds have a dream, which is seeing the greater Kurdistan one day, and get rid of the oppressive regimes in the region. The PKK and PJAK know full well that the majority of the Kurdish public are sympathetic to their cause and respect their struggle. However, disregarding the bigger picture and giving countries like Turkey and Iran an excuse to kill Kurdish citizens and debase the only sovereign Kurdish entity (KRG) will not go down very well with the Kurdish public.
This article first appeared on Kurdish Views


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