NO to Turkey´s ‘Buffer Zone’ in West Kurdistan!

Rebwar Reshid

By Rebwar Rashed:

Using the West´s and NATO´s resources against the Kurdish liberation movement has been a Turkish specialty. Turkey successfully used the Cold War´s political balance to suppress the Kurdish nation in a savage way whose only historical parallel is classical early European colonialism: for instance the exploitation of Congo by King Leopold or the early Spanish and Portuguese conquests of Latin America more than 500 years ago.

The barbaric atrocities of today´s ISIS/ IS (Islamic State) is a repeat of the same atrocities that the Turks committed against Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds and others. As recently as the 1990s Turkish soldiers were posing with the heads of Kurdish guerrillas they had beheaded.  Even Kurdish gravestones have been desecrated by Turkish officials on many occasions.

However, factors such as Mr. Gorbachev´s Perestroika and Glasnost (Restructuring, Openness and Transparency), the end of the classic Cold War, collapse of State-Socialism, expansion of Western Europe and NATO, and overthrow of many dictatorships in the Middle East and around the world stripped Turkey of many of its Cold War privileges.

Even though Turkey didn’t participate in either the 1991 Gulf War / Operation Desert Shield or the 2003 Coalition of the Willing it was nevertheless a great beneficiary of these wars due to its opportunistic standpoint and deliberate troublemaking. The weakness of Iraq and Syria has further pushed the Turks to have the ambition to become a superpower of the greater Middle East.

Turkey placed clear prerequisites on joining the anti-Saddam Hussein Coalition in 1991, such as demanding billions of US dollars and pre-arranged contracts for Turkish companies to compensate for hypothetical trade losses and also the infamous demands for guarantees that Kurds would not be allowed to reap some national rights and for Turkey to retain its power to continue denying Kurdish people their national and democratic rights.

That it chose to be a supporter, financer and partner of IS/ ISIS is beyond question. But, all of a sudden, Turkey is now willing to join Mr. Obama´s Coalition Against ISIS/ IS.

Here is why:

  1. The Coalition Against IS/ ISIS is a political determination and consists of many nations; most importantly for Turkey, it includes moderate Arabic states. This endangers Turkey’s strategic aims because Turkey sees these Arab countries as foes not as partners.
  2. Turkey is doing everything in its power to take history back 30 years to when Kurds were “mountain Turks”, to demoralize the Kurdish people and pursue Kurds’ total surrender: thus giving Turkey a highway to get into Kurdish oil, gas and other wealth in Kurdistan. According to various sources, the funds from Kurdish crude oil sales are being placed in the Halk-Bank of Turkey, a state-owned Turkish bank holding at least US$400 million in Kurdish revenues. Thus Turkey strengthens its banks and currency with Kurdish money while does not recognize any kind of Kurdish rights.
  3. The latest test was when IS/ ISIS attacked Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territories and Turkey did not show any kind of positive reaction, despite all its bragging about friendship with ‘Iraqi Kurds’, which was also a blow to Mr. Barzani’s insistence on Turkey as a partner.
  4. Turkey seeks to make a Sunni-Coalition in the Middle East which is friendly to Turkey and hostile to Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arabs, for instance Jordan and Egypt. Beyond the Kurdish issue, this is explains Turkey’s support for the Islamic State.
  5. Turkey is working to win the sympathy and the opinion of the Arab masses and thus force Arab governments to more or less accept the hegemony of Turkey, which would be reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire-model. Turkey’s hostility toward Israel must be seen in this context. Ideologically, politically and psychologically, though not necessarily physically, Turkey can rebuild such an empire if it can force Israel into concessions. Israel is indeed the only obstacle when Turkey can unfortunately easily manipulate the Arabs.
  6. Turkey is eager to use these cards when sitting with the EU. Turkey has been successful in riding the horse of Islam and using the discourse of Islam to put pressure on the EU. In almost all EU proceedings and negotiations, Turkey has been doing everything to keep today’s privileges and at the same time get more while giving back nothing in return, by simply screaming that Europe is practicing Islamophobia.
  7. Turkey would like to make today’s Syrian-refugee crisis a business opportunity: to continue getting money from the UN and at the same time get political credit. Turkish “humanitarian assistance” concerning the Kurdish people is a big lie. Almost every single Kurd has been sheltered by other Kurds on the other side of the border. At the same time it’s known that US taxpayers are paying between $2.4 billion and $3.8 billion per year, or perhaps even more, to fight IS/ISIS and other dark forces which Turkey has been supporting.

Turkey´s aim:

Since March 2011, when the first demonstration took place in Syria, Turkey has done its best to make fools of the Syrians by first gathering them in Istanbul and Ankara, then separating them into different groups in order to control them more easily and then helping the most fanatic Sunni-groups among them. The next step was to force the opposition to exclude the Kurds. Only after at least two years of Kurdish stable political administration, Turkey starts to soften its stance towards the Kurds. Now Kurds can take a place among the Syrian opposition, but only as “Syrians”, not as “Kurds”. This was the big failure behind the collapse of the Geneva Second Conference. Due to various reasons, the so-called “Syrian opposition”, has only served as protectors of Turkey´s national interests and not as Syrian democratic forces and, in the case of IS/ ISIS and other dark forces, they have been a part of the Turkish paramilitary forces. Making a fool of the Syrian opposition, by forcing them into total obedience, has enabled Turkey to run a puppet show in Syria.

This explains why countries like France, the US and the UK couldn’t have any significant influence on the ground in Syria despite their tremendous financial and military help to the so called “opposition”.

But the Kurdish democratic and secularist advance in Syria shattered Turkish plans. If it were not for the continuous IS/ ISIS attacks, the three cantons in Rojawa would have been much more stable and self-sufficient. Turkey interprets any successful Kurdish democratic progress as a potential danger.

This is what lies behind Turkey´s sudden turnaround: after making things difficult for everybody and for the democratic process since 2011, now all of a sudden it wants to establish a “buffer zone” exactly on Kurdish soil inside Syria. Of course the Turks’ proposal to build a “buffer zone” has nothing to do with Syrian civilian causalities, helping refugees or guiding the opposition in a right direction. Turkey only wants to crush Kurdish advances.

Border displays of heavy military equipment such as tanks and armored vehicles is nothing but a Turkish psychological war against Kurds. Turkey is expert in finding excuses: for instance, when Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed that this huge army mobilization was because “a mortar shell had hit a house in a Turkish village on the Syrian border late Sept. 28”.

Mr. Erdoğan’s speech to Parliament on the occasion of the opening of the new legislative year, a few hours ago, was full of these kinds of threats and intimidation towards the West, the Coalition and against the Kurds.


  1. The Post-First World War arbitrary colonial borders – which never took Kurdish ethnic, national, cultural and language particularities into consideration – threw the Kurdish people into the periphery of some territorial-states which history has witnessed as the most barbaric and uncivilized.
  2. Turkey uses IS/ ISIS and other dark forces as a political card. Turkey´s demand, albeit officially undeclared, is that Turkey will abandon these uncivilized forces only in exchange for the International Community (read: the US and Western allies) abandoning Kurds or rather giving Turkey generous political and military space to suppress the Kurds. Otherwise, as happened in 2003, the US and NATO will not see any Turkish cooperation, despite Ankara´s signals about having the will for cooperation and a place inside the alliance. Turkey´s primary aim is destroying the Kurds and taking over their wealth.
  3. Turkey is also demanding cash, as it always have done it before.
  4. Kurds have shown the world that they will stand against Turkey and are getting stronger day by day. The Kurdish people have a will to fight back and to struggle for peace, freedom and sovereignty, no matter Turkey´s state terrorism and its barbaric history.

In this connection, Kurds will be much better off if their crude oil revenues are placed in an account at JPMorgan Chase, as was once planned, and used to build up a Development Fund of Kurdistan with the help of US and Western allies. The UN and Western banks would eventually support such a step due to various reasons which are not the subject of this article.

The Kurdish liberation movement has become stronger and more organized. Turkey was thus forced to begin secret negotiations with the Kurds (read:  PKK/ KCK) which have been going on since 2010, with almost no progress, because the Turks are using this as a tactic and arcade game, a process now in jeopardy due to Turkey´s expansionistic policy.

However, the International Community and the democracies have a responsibility towards the Kurdish people, especially now in Kobane, which the IS/ ISIS terrorists have sworn to break. Destruction of Kobane would indeed be a destruction of the free will of Kurds and their cry for respect and dignity.

Rebwar Rashed has a Ph.D. degree in Political Science. He has translated several books into Kurdish and also written many articles in Kurdish and English about the Kurdistan National Liberation Movement, human rights, anti-Semitism, equality between the sexes and ethnicities, and the need for a democratic and peaceful struggle

3 Responses to NO to Turkey´s ‘Buffer Zone’ in West Kurdistan!
  1. yoram
    October 2, 2014 | 15:56

    Saudi Arabia and Sisi’s coup regime are “moderate” ?

    • Rebwar Rashed
      October 3, 2014 | 12:10

      Yes. Saudi Arabia might practicing a conservative domestic policy due to its role as a “center” of Islam, but it´s foreign policy is a moderate policy, not just in the field of politics but also religion, which is not specially or characteristically extreme, partisan or radical.
      Almost all of the Islam sorts which rises in Arabic and non-Arabic countries are really much more conservative, extreme and partisan than the one in Saudi Arabia. They are also, first and foremost, has zero tolerance.
      I understand the examples of Afghanistan and other issues, for instance Egypt. But these kinds of foreign policy (ies)/ intervention(s) practices/ (directly or indirectly) even by states that is not at all religious. Turkey´s foreign policy for instance is much more religious, extreme, partisan and radical than Saudi Arabia.
      That does not mean of course that Turkey is truer in practicing Islam or is a “better” Muslim country than Saudi Arabia. The Turks have managed to use Islam as a model of business-making and they have been successful in exploiting Islam for their personal and national interests.
      Iran is exactly the same as Turkey regarding the use of Shia-Islam.
      No Arab country has practiced such a policy of Islam as Turkey and Iran do even on party political level.
      The Sharia-state of Al- Banna touches not only domestic-policies but also have many foreign policy dimensions which again are characteristically extreme, partisan or radical, and by the way not less totalitarian as a regime than the Saudi Arabia.

      Observe that Saudi Arabia´s conservative domestic policy is softens with time, for instance women driving or riding bicycle and some children´s issues. In Turkey the women, children, school etc. issues rather goes back and becomes more conservative / reactionary.

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