Turkey’s enmity to Kurdish people hinders NATO’s war against ISIS

Ayoub Barzani

By Ayoub Barzani:

One of the main Turkish phobias that clouds reasonable thinking is the Kurdish issue. The majority of the political parties in Turkey, left, right, secular, religious, nationalist or liberal, are indoctrinated by the outdated and petrified Kemalist ideology, which has no patience for any ethnicity in Turkey. This attitude goes against the Copenhagen criteria and against the conditions set by the European Union for Turkey’s membership of the EU; furthermore it is against basic principles of democracy.

The Kemalist ideology that symbolizes Turkish nationalism rejects a pluralist and democratic definition of nationhood. Many Turkish journalists and writers have openly admitted such a painful reality, which is reflected in the current war against ISIS in Kobani.

The Turkish journalist Dogu Ergil wrote on October 04, 2014 that the Turkish government is worried about the formation of a second autonomous Kurdish political entity in Rojava (1), similar to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in South Kurdistan. He recognizes as well that Turkey failed take serious steps to defend its close Kurdish ally in Iraq when ISIS targeted Arbil after occupation of Mosul.

Then he concludes that “If it hadn’t been for America’s aerial bombardment, maybe ISIS would have been Turkey’s neighbor instead of Iraqi Kurdistan.”

Indeed Mr. Erdogan did not bother to save his obedient ally, the President of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the KRG, when ISIS took over Shingal (Sinjar), which involved massacres and massive displacement of tens of thousands of Christians and Ezidis.

Another Turkish journalist, Gokhan Bacik, acknowledged on September 28, 2014 that combatting “ISIS by People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), etc. – (is) becoming more organized and internationally legitimate.” (2) Such international recognition of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is abhorred by the Turkish authorities.

Kobani’s resistance, which is highly publicized in the world media outlets, represents a legendary resistance against ISIS armed gangs, the city besieged by overwhelming well-armed units of ISIS, while Turkey is blocking the city from the North. The Turkish government is tacitly allied with ISIS to prevent the establishment of a safe and autonomous Kurdish region in Rojava (West Kurdistan); once Turkey achieved this goal, it could take other steps to destroy Kurdish national identity wherever it could prevail in other parts of Kurdistan.

The Turkish paradox hampers the fight against ISIS in the whole Middle East. Narrow and immature Turkish political thinking, which is the product of primitive nationalism, does not differentiate ISIS from the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Meanwhile the majority of the states engaged in the war admit that the real battle waged against ISIS has come from Kurdish People’s Protection Units, who have fought efficiently ISIS gangs in Iraq and Syria.  However, there are ample accusations against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Sheikhdoms for financing and arming ISIS army. Simultaneously, Turkey is fighting Kurdish national movement on two fronts, inside and outside Turkey, which will be certainly in the interest of ISIS.

The International Community and the Western member-states of NATO realize the critical and unfair military situation on the ground in Kobani. They are also aware that Kurdish forces, mainly from the YPG, are the backbone of resistance on ground against ISIS. However, it seems that NATO’s military aid to the YPG is being limited so as not to anger Ankara. The lack of moral courage cannot be more visible among member states of NATO.

NATO members are aware of Mr. Erdogan’s objectives behind his conditions for participation against ISIS and his policy of nonintervention against them. Erdogan’s priority is not ISIS; but the crushing of Kurdish forces in Rojava, and the suppression of the Kurdish National movement in North Kurdistan, in Turkey itself.

The Middle East is a place of many paradoxes. Turkey, an important member-state of NATO, is supportive to attempts by ISIS to crush Kurdish people, while other NATO members are timidly bombing ISIS’s positions around Kobani.

With Kurdish disunity, and with its leaders’ endemic corruption in South Kurdistan (Iraq), misleading nationalist rhetoric, lack of understanding of international relations (although after more than 60 years in diplomacy), absence of daring political initiatives, and a lack of long-term unified strategy towards international and regional powers, all this could lead to further social and political deterioration in all parts of Kurdistan.

(1) Kurdish territory which annexed to Syria after First World War.
(2) Gokhan Bacik, todayszaman.com. 28.09.2014

Ayoub Barzani is a Kurdish writer, historian and critic. He is the son of Babo Barzani, Ahmed Barzani‘s nephew and the first-cousin of Massoud Barzani, the President of  the Kurdistan Region. He took refuge in Iran after the collapse of the Kurdish movement in 1975. He was arrested and intimidated by the Iranian secret service, the (SAVAK). He left Iran at the end of 1976 and sought asylum in the UK. Ayoub Barzani currently resides in Switzerland, where he is a co-founder of an organisation known as Kurdistan Democratic Alliance. He is very outspoken about human rights breaches and corruption in South Kurdistan and has published three books on the Kurdish Movement.

7 Responses to Turkey’s enmity to Kurdish people hinders NATO’s war against ISIS
  1. James Dillon
    October 14, 2014 | 10:57

    A fine piece of analysis by Mr. Barzani.I believe the most fundamental mistake that Obama has made in the formulation of his ME policies has been to take his cues from Tayyip Erdogan.The would be the only explanation for his otherwise incomprehensible efforts to save the MB in Egypt and Hamas in the most recent war with Israel.Those initiatives were even opposed by the arab league,traditionally the most US friendly states.And now again,in the defense of Kobani we have the ultimate shame.Obama would’ve gone along with allowing ISIS to commit atrocities in Kobani,just weeks after praising these same kurds for helping the Yazidis off Sinjar and coming to the rescue of the Peshmerga.In the US the kurds get only positive press.There’s no such thing as anti kurd reporting.The american people regard all the kurds as one people and the only bona fide good guys in the entire region.So they don’t understand why the US isn’t doing more in Kobani and that’s one reason air attacks have increased.Of course Apache attack helicoptors would be even more effective.And I suspect that’s why the squabble over using Incirlik.Let’s just hope that foolosh as Obama is he’s at least starting to realize Tayyip has his own agenda and it’s actually a prescription for disaster.
    It’s my view that the Obama should reverse course on Assad.That’s the better hand to play rather than appeasing Erdogan.He should offer Iran tacit recognition of Assad’s legitimacy for concessions in the nuke deal – legal recognition of syrian kurd autonomy and Iranian cooperation in N. Africa and Yemen.Then the only secular boots on the ground that are available – the syrian army and the YPG can take control and,more importantly govern areas recovered from ISIS.A deal with Assad should include some guarantees of more humane behavior from the army and opportunities for the FSA remnants to be amnestied.There’s something in there for everybody, Iran,The arab league,Israel,the Kurds,Russia,the US,everybody except Turkey.Erdogan would be,should be left hung out to dry.After all,even Qatar has abandoned him.Let him stew in his failures and the turkish people will do the rest.

  2. Jan Best de Vries
    October 14, 2014 | 17:03

    Capital of IS: Istanbul?

    A historian who reads the news on North Syria each day in the international media, among these The Kurdistan Tribune as well, is at first sight quite astonished to read that a Kurdish spokesman in Iraq urgently bids Erdogan to destroy the seat of IS in Istanbul instead of concentrating upon Assad in Syria. For more often one reads that the capital of IS Raqqa is, in North Syria. Kurdish defenders of the town who phone from Kobani to the outside world tell that the IS jihadists at a distance of sometimes no more than ten metres in the front line shout at them that they will kill them all and that the Kurds shout back that they will never give up the town. “In what language do they shout at each other?”, we questioned ourselves and we decided: in Turkish. For what is less known in the West, is that since 1921 Turkey considers the Kobani area to belong to a Turkish enclave in which a Turkish monument lies. In the opinion of Erdogan, however, are the Kurds “mountain Turks” and thus everything could be Turkish. Now one reads all the time that Kobani is a border town in Syria.
    What those jihadists of IS from Istanbul and the “border” Kurds have in common, is that both fighting parties do speak Turkish…. Maybe an interesting subject for a working paper by an American student: Istanbul, Capital of IS.

    Farhad Ahora (peshmerga)
    Dr. Jan Best de Vries (historian)

  3. Khalil
    October 15, 2014 | 01:04

    The U.S. will no longer abandon Kurds. President Obamas strategy/FP has changed in favor of all oppressed nations and implementing American values equally all over the ME. Kurds be optimistic. Democracy, Freedom, Equality for all. South Kurdistan was liberated. Rojava is. Northern and Eastern Kurdistan will ensue in order. The big real mission has just commenced. Kurds must be patient and cooperate. There shall be no uturn anymore. The world is fed up with the ME mess, especially and first to be USA. It has to be addressed and the time has come.

  4. Felix Jury
    October 15, 2014 | 04:17

    Erdogan will get what he deserves and he is not going to like what appears before him .
    The kurds will win out .

  5. Carl Adrian
    October 16, 2014 | 16:09

    Thank you for letting US
    Know the facts about Turkeys hate for their own Kurdish people. To alienate 15 million people is insane. Carl A

  6. Kuvan Bamarny
    October 17, 2014 | 08:54

    History tells us that ,Western world value Turkey more than Kurds due the historical,geographical ,economical and political importance of Turkey in the region and their interests,and ties of the Turkey with the western world.

    Western world claims to be friends with Kurds and advocate the recognition of the rights of Kurds but I do not think Western world will ever abandon the side of Turkey and press them hard enough to recognize the rights of Kurds as if they do Turkey would rebel and hurt the interests of the western world in the region.

    As for why Turkey is not becoming fair enough to recognize the rights of its own Kurdish citizens ,is the matter of ,injustice ,power ,false pride,arrogance,discrimination and egocentric interests which is not fair and completely inhumane.

    Unity,loyalty solidarity of Kurds ,and their ,assertive relations with others ,is the key to obtain their rights and to protect their existence.

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