Van catastrophe reaffirms Turkey-Northern Iraq relations

By Koshan A. Khidhir:

“We are so sorry for what is happening in Van”. “Donate a penny, Safe the life of one person”. These quotations are the words of Kurds from Northern Iraq showing their sympathy to their neighbor city, Van, endangered by a series of earthquakes.

In the last few weeks, as I travelled from one city, district and village to another in Northern Iraq, when I read Kurdish newspapers, magazines and websites and watched the television, the main focus has been about Van. There are lots of tents in different districts and cities calling for donations for Van to support its displaced people.

This could be a starting point for a new way of looking at relations between Turkey and Northern Iraq. The aftermath of the earthquake – with cooperation between Kurds and Turks and the reaction within Northern Iraq – has revealed that the conflict is not rooted in Kurdish society. The conflict between two sides is restricted to a conflict between the PKK and the military of Turkey.

There was and it is a political struggle by the PKK to achieve external and internal goals. While Kurds in Northern Iraq supported Van, they evidently declared their support for a particular method of resolving the Kurdish question in Turkey – which is to resolve this issue through peaceful means.

I have talked with many scholars in the region and, mostly, they are interested in resolving the Kurdish issue in Turkey through a peaceful process. The Kurdish street in the region has also suffered from the cross-border conflicts between the PKK and Turkish state; they would therefore prefer a political resolution to the Kurdish issue rather than military operations.

Kurds in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Northern Iraq, have mostly benefited from their peaceful and stable region, enabling them to experience self-governance. Therefore, any conflict will endanger their prosperity and the future of this region. Thus the leaders of the region are concerned about improving relations with Turkish government in the different areas of politics, culture and business.

Kurdish leaders – Jalal Talabani, Iraqi President, Massoud Barzani, President of the Region, Barham Salih, current prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, former prime minister and other high-ranking officials – are continuously holding meetings with Kurdish political parties to convince them about resolving the Kurdish issue by peaceful means. They have worked to mediate between Kurdish parties, mostly their effective leaders, and the Turkish elite. Several days ago Talabani and Salih met some MPs from the pro-Kurdish Democratic and Peace Party (BDP). According to Kurdish news agencies, the meeting was mostly concerned about resolving the Kurdish issue in Turkey through dialogue and peaceful means.

Van has uncovered the roots of the issues. While some Kurdish leaders, who are sincerely striving to resolve the Kurdish issue, were in the meeting with Talabani, others were involved with hijacking. Real Kurds are those who have donated their money and clothes to other civilians in Turkey; but others are those who thinking about having more attacks and bloodshed. These groups are restricted by their goals. Therefore they will not win hearts and make political achievements. They are just playing with time and struggling to survive.

I hope, as a Kurd in Northern Iraq, to have a peaceful process to resolve the Kurdish issue in Turkey, which has started with the AK Party’s reforms and initiatives. The Van catastrophe can become a new page for humanitarian cooperation, if we view these events in a different way.

Koshan A. Khidhir is a  journalist, blogger, and undergraduate student in Political Science and InternationalRelations at University of Kurdistan-Hawler (UKH):

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL