Yet another unwelcome spin off from GW Bush and Tony Blair’s disastrous decision to invade and occupy Iraq began last night, when the Turkish Armed Forces began to move into northern Iraq in large numbers in search and destroy operations against the Kurdish PKK, who have been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish State since 1984.
A military spokesman issued a statement on behalf of the Turkish General Staff, “A ground operation backed by the Air Force was launched at 1900, [1700 GMT on Thursday] the offensive began on Thursday evening, following shelling and aerial assaults against PKK targets in the region. After the successful bombing, a cross-border ground incursion backed by the Air Force started at 1900” (1700 GMT). The spokesman went on to say, “Two divisions of the Turkish Army, 10,000 troops had been sent into northern Iraq overnight as part of the land operation.
With this invasion of northern Iraq it seems the will of the Turkish military has finally prevailed over that of the AK Party led democratically elected government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who were hoping to avoid a military incursion with land forces across the Iraqi border. The rank and file of the AK Party along with many Turks have been taken by surprise by the General Staffs decision to invade northern Iraq at this time, as earlier this week Government Ministers were telling the media that due to the weather there would be no invasion until the early spring. Which they hoped would give Erdoğan enough time to reach and agreement with the PKK to come down from the mountains.
It is not the first time the Turkish military have launched a major land-force into northern Iraq with the aim of destroying the PKK, seven divisions of the Turkish army were sent into northern Iraq in 1995 and six in 1997, neither were successful in destroying the PKK. Most military analysts doubt the Turkish military will be any more successful this time, at best they can hope to disrupt the PKK chain of command and supply.
Not least because it is thought following recent Turkish military air strikes the PKK has withdrawn its fighters from their bases in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains and moved them across the eastern Iraqi border into Iran, whilst setting up small bases in the Sincar Mountains in northern Iraq. Unless the Turkish military has made some sort of agreement with their Iranian counterparts to expel the PKK fighters back across the Iraqi border, it is difficult to see how the current invasion will be any more successful than the previous two I mention above. Indeed for the Turkish Government it can only make a bad situation worse as past history has shown that any military incursion to attack the PKK in Iraq has acted as a recruiting sergeant for that organization.*
Photos above are of
1/ Map of where the Kurds live in the region.
3/ Turkish troops in northern Iraq.
Whoever made the decision within the Kurdistan Workers Party, [PKK] to re-launch armed attacks across the northern Iraqi border against the Turkish military in south eastern Turkey is caught in a 1980s ‘peoples war’ time warp. For these hit and run raids in the 21st century can never amount to more than an irritant as far as the Turkish military is concerned and a useful one at that. For the Kurds who live in the Turkish Republic it is another matter, as the PKK’s decision to reignite its military adventure at a time when the Kurdish DTP party has made spectacular political gains defies the political reality on the ground; and has not only backfired upon the Kurdish people but also emboldened reactionary elements in the Turkish State and military to go on the offensive against Kurdish political organization such as the DTP.
Those within the Turkish State bureaucracy who oppose full equality and an extension of the democratic rights of the Kurds who live within the Turkish Republic have lost no time in exploiting this foolishness on the part of the PKK leadership in Iraq. The extreme right wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, a man who had thrown a noose from the podium during a speech he was making about the problems in the Kurdish south-east of Turkey, has been busy stirring the pot within the Turkish Parliament. Demanding not only that the Turkish army invade Kurdish northern Iraq and search out and destroy any PKK bases there; but also that the pro Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) be banned and its elected parliamentarians be stripped of their immunity and dismissed from the Turkish Parliament.
These inflammatory statements have now been followed by reactionary state prosecutors within the Turkish Supreme Court asking the Constitutional Court, that deals with such matters, to bring a court case against the DTP, which if approved would see the party banned and its elected MP’s removed from the Turkish Parliament. According to court documents they have also asked the Constitutional Court to ban 221 named members of the DTP, including eight members of the Turkish Parliament, from taking part in political activity for five years after the closure of the party. The purpose being to remove the Kurds political representatives from Parliament and make them unable to stand and campaign at the next general election.
Just how insidious, destructive and undemocratic the ‘secret state’ is in Turkey is amply demonstrated by the fact that none of the aforementioned was carried out on the instructions of the Turkish Government. Indeed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued a statement opposing the Supreme Court prosecutors actions and spoken out against the DTP’s expulsion from Parliament. Arguing that it would be counterproductive and if successful would lead to disillusionment with the democratic road by many of those who voted for the DTP at the last election, when the Party returned 20 Kurdish MPs to parliament for the first time in over a decade.
The current government led by Mr Erdoğan has already in its first term in office removed from the statute book some of the more archaic legislation that prevented Kurds broadcasting and being educated in their own language and as the governing Party the AKP and the DTP jointly gathered in the overwhelming majority of the Kurdish vote in the General Election that took place in July of this year, it seemed certain that further progressive legislation would be passed by parliament in the near future. The Turkish people were optimistic that a solution to the PKK insurgency might at long last be possible, until that is the recent bout of foolishness by the PKK and members of the Turkish ‘secret state’.
In response to the threat of being banned, the DTP leadership called a mass rally on Tuesday last in Diyarbakir, the main city in the Kurdish south east of Turkey. Over 100,000 members and supporters of the DTP attended the rally to protest against any banning of the Party. The DTP MP Sirri Sakik, said the action by the authorities was “not really a surprise.” “It is a step backwards in the country’s democratic process as well as the process of integration with the European Union,” “Turkey is becoming a cemetery of banned political parties. Closing a group does not resolve the problem,” he added.
It is impossible not to agree with this viewpoint, Hadep the forerunner of the DTP was itself banned, after pressure from the military and the secret state and the same silly reasoning to ban HADEP is now being used to ban the DTP. All democrats must stand with the DTP and oppose any attempt to shut the party down and bar its leading members from political activity. At the same time we must point out that the PKK insurgency must come to an end as the political climate for armed struggle has passed. Throughout Europe and around the Mediterranean rim, political parties as different as Germanys Left Party and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have shown progressive parties can gain more political ground by choosing the Parliamentary road.
Filed under AKP., Armed Struggle, democratic accountability, DTP, EU, insurgency, Northern-Iraq, Organized Rage, PKK, Turkey, USA