Prominent Kurdish author Ferda Çetin talked to MedyaNews about the controversies in Iraqi Kurdistan surrounding the Sinjar agreement that was signed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the discussions that have been taking place about Kurdish national unity.
Quoting from your article published in Yeni Özgür Politika on 3 September, you defined the demand of unity between Kurds as “an empty and unrequited request invented to conceal the betrayal and the cooperation of the KDP. Because national unity is established against enemies”. In this context, what does the joint statement of 48 Kurdish parties and institutions mean? How do the international powers evaluate this call for national unity? For Kurds, does the call for national unity mean “an effort to cover up betrayal?”
“National Unity” means the joint struggle of all individuals, all political parties and institutions against the threat facing their country. The demands and the calls of Kurds regarding the attacks on Rojava, South Kurdistan and Sinjar, are, indeed, addressed to the KDP. There is no tension or conflict in question regarding the other political parties other than the KDP. Therefore, the calls of “national unity” are not for national unity but a call on the KDP to “stop the cooperation with the enemies of the Kurds, that is Turkey”. The forces that make these unity calls abstain from calling out that party name, either out of courtesy or to seem impartial, even though the KDP explicitly cooperates with the Turkish state throughout Rojava, Iraqi Kurdistan and Sinjar. All the other parties in South and in North Kurdistan and Sinjar, except for the KDP, are of the same opinion regarding the issue of “national unity” and “national congress”.
If the United States of America (USA), Russia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are what is meant by the ‘international powers’, these powers explicitly have given their consent and support to Turkey’s invasion of Kurdistan. However, all the people, political parties and parliamentary bodies take a clear stand against the invasion. Drawing attention to the plans aimed at dividing the Kurds, the “Kurdish Friendship Group” in the European Parliament (EP) proposed that Kurdish parties should solve their problems through dialogue last week. They stated in the EP that they could act as the mediator in this regard.
What is ‘national unity’? What does it mean for Kurds, Yazidis, Arabs and other peoples living in the region and diaspora?
National unity, for Kurds, means the joint stance and struggle in Rojava, South Kurdistan and Sinjar against the Turkish state, which is the biggest danger and threat opposing the achievements of Kurds. National unity means the termination of the Turkish invasion in Efrin, Serekaniye, Gre Spi and South Kürdistan with the support of the UN, the USA and the EU; and the removal of the Turkish military forces from Rojava and South Kurdistan. The people of the region and the Kurds are aware of the fact that Turkey seeks to impose its expansionist policy over the whole Middle East. In order to frustrate this plan, they do not approve of the KDP keeping company with Turkey.
Where does the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Kurdish divide, which you mentioned in your article dated 17 September, take place? How does this distinction differentiate between Kurds in the region and in the international community?
The UN, the USA, the EU and Russia have arranged partners for their updated policies and global strategies. These partners consist of the states and the powers of those states, but they do acquire non-governmental partners in the zones of conflict and tension, which have not yet gained stability. All these powers have their own “good and bad” Arabs, Palestinians, Belarussians, Bolivians, Venezuelans, Afghans, etc. In this regard, it is not a new or odd situation to know that that they have their own ‘good’ Kurds. It is a question of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ here and who makes the decision on these definitions.
In order to clarify, one must note that the UN, the USA, Russia and the EU went into an active partnership with the Kurds, giving the Kurds explicit support after Al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked Rojava and laid siege to Kobanê in 2014. They were together in the coalition against Isis. Whilst the fight against ISIS was proceeding, meetings were held in Geneva for peace and political negotiations. Eight meetings took place in Geneva from 30 June 2012 to 2019. The states, which are irrelevant to Syria and Rojava and the marginal institutions and which have no social base, were invited to those meetings, but the Kurds who are the part of the coalition, were never invited to any of these meetings.
More importantly, the Kurdish National Council (ENKS- Encûmena Niştimanî ya Kurdî li Sûriyê in Kurdish) – who not only had no power or impact either in Syria or in Rojava, but also took sides with the Turkish/ISIS front – participated in those meetings whilst the representatives of Al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS participated in the meetings with shaved beards and changed costumes. However, the Democratic Union Party (PYD – Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat in Kurdish), Rojava’s peoples assemblies and canton administrations were not invited to a single meeting. The profiles, the past and the social relations of the Kurds who were and were not invited to the Geneva meeting set an instance, which is quite adequate and enlightening, to understand the divisions that have been made regarding who is a “good” as opposed to “bad” Kurd.
Why is ENKS chosen as a force against the PYD? After the initiatives of Jim Jeffrey, will there be a change in the US policy with Joe Biden, the newly elected president of the United States? Jeffrey had wanted to liquidate the PKK in line with the demands of Ankara and the liquidation of the Manbij model. Had he evaluated the Kurdish systems based on democratic autonomy as dangerous?
The USA, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), France and the states of the EU, in general, are the current pioneers of capitalism and liberalism as well as being partners of the global hegemony. These powers ensure their hegemony without the direct inclusion of the military forces and tools of oppression of their own, but with the comprador powers of the states they build relations with. They do this by way of detecting the geographical/territorial borders and building up powers over ethnic and religious divisions.
Democratic Confederalism, which the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has developed and applied in practice in areas over 15 years, poked the hornet’s nest of global hegemony. It has revealed that a life where people live together in unity without the division of territories and power, without the division of ethnicity or religion, is possible. It has inspired and put forward the living example of such a life, where it is so visible. The alternative model of life and regime seriously disturbs capitalist modernity and liberalism.
The USA wants to divide the political, social, cultural and military power and organization that the PKK brought out in all parts of Kurdistan. By dividing these forces from the PKK, the USA wants to benefit itself. Their support and consent regarding the invasion of Jarabulus, Efrin, Serekaniye and Gre Spi by the gangs of Republic of Turkey (TR)/ISIS is related to that strategic purpose. In addition, it has been decided that the government of Iraq and the KDP shall cooperate with the invasion on the territories of Iraq under the cover of the Turkish state’s fight against the PKK. It is the USA who organized this negotiation plan in Sinjar. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Joey Hood and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq David Copley from the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs of the USA announced in a statement they issued last August that they worked for the partnership of Turkey-KDP-Iraq against the PKK.
We can note that all these the activities are aimed at “stealing and corrupting the revolution”. It is sure that there will be some changes with the newly elected President Joe Biden, but these changes will not cause a reaction of change in the basic parameters of the USA’s Middle-East Strategy. Some variations might be observed with respect to the actual issues and the methods; for example, as the support in the general policies of Turkey would continue, one might expect that Biden may not tolerate the arbitrariness and acts of Tayyip Erdoğan in the same way that Donald Trump did.
Can we say that friendly relations and national unity agreements between the PKK and the KDP will not occur? Does it indicate that Massoud Barzani’s statement that he “will not allow a war amongst Kurds as long” as he “breathes” is no longer a valid one?
There are protocols and agreements between the KDP and the PKK, signed as a result of official relations since 1980. In 1981, both parties in South Kurdistan signed an agreement for joint struggle, solidarity and national unity against the common enemies – which are the four colonialist states of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The executives of both parties have been in talks over the years and continued to seek a concerted position regarding regional developments as well as the developments in Kurdistan. In 2014, a national unity meeting was held with the participation of the executives of the PKK and the KDP. The KDP, who signed an agreement of “national unity, joint struggle and solidarity” and held national congress meetings with the PKK, consecutively in 1981 and 2014, sees the invasion of Turkey in Rojava as legitimate. The formation of ENKS, known to be an arm of the KDP, supported not the Kurds but the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and ISIS gangs during their invasion in Efrin.
Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the South Kurdistan has legitimized the Turkish invasion, saying: “Turkey does not have a problem with the Kurds in Rojava; the problem is the PKK”. Within the last two years, the KDP government has enabled 38 Turkish patrols and bases to be built over the territories of South Kurdistan. Hence, the statement of Masoud Barzani that: “I will not let a war among the Kurds as long as I breathe”, does not have a correspondence or functional value.
Whilst the KDP administration states that it demands the “withdrawal of the PKK from the places it invaded”, it does not see the Turkish army’s occupation of Iraqi Kurdistan as a problem. Why did the KDP administration begin to see the PKK as a threat?
Even though the ideologies, the policies and the programmes of both parties are differentiated from each other, those have not caused deep conflicts and disagreements. Even though some conflicts occurred over time through the provocation of the Turkish state, these conflicts have not deepened. However, the KDP and the Barzani family began to feel discomfort when the idea of Democratic Confederalism – designated by the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan – began to be shaped in flesh and bones through the Democratic Autonomy model as its field of application with the assemblies and municipalities in the North Kurdistan and as the cantonal autonomous managements in Rojava. Another movement influencing the public sphere and becoming more appealing for the people caused uneasiness for the KDP. There is no problem for them as long as the PKK fights on the mountains for years, but when political, cultural, social and economical models for governing have been developed, they have begun to feel uncomfortable.
The huge massacres and invasion by ISIS in Sinjar in 2014, where Mosul, Kerkûk and Mexmûr were easily taken over in territories that were supposedly defended by the Peshmerga of the KDP, caused the KDP to make a self-enquiry as it damaged its prestige. The inclusion of the People’s Defence Forces (HPG) of the PKK to the defense of these territories where it dealt a huge blow to ISIS greatly increased the respect of Kurdish society to the PKK and its guerillas. Right after the massacres by ISIS, the fact that the people of Sinjar formed their own self-defense units and autonomous governance by the establishment of their self-governed assemblies and institutions, disturbs not just Turkey, Iraq and the USA, but the KDP especially, as an alternative system of governance to its own is being built.
The PKK is not only atop the mountains and in North Kurdistan, not anymore. The PKK holds such a position that it holds social contact with the people in Rojava, in Sinjar and in South Kurdistan as well. In this context, the social support and the sympathy for the PKK increases day by day. This is seen as a serious threat by the Barzani family. In order to defy this threat, 38 military bases, new patrols, heliports and offices for Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) have been allocated in the South Kurdistan territories over the past two years. Taking all risks, the KDP believes that it can defy the PKK together with the cooperation of Turkey within the frame of the plan developed by the USA and it has completed all necessary preparations for such a war. As a result, the KDP has revealed its true intentions with a tragicomic demand: the KDP demands that the PKK guerrillas, who have been living in the mountains of South Kurdistan since 1980, evacuate on the grounds that the guerrilla, a Kurdistani force, violates their sovereignty.
How can the KDP’s relationship with Turkey and the US, Russia and France lead it to demand “national unity” for the Kurds? Why is there no interest in unity when it comes to Northern Kurdistan?
When the USA formed an alliance with the Northern and Southern Syrian forces against ISIS, this alliance did not seek to recognise or aim to preserve or provide an official status to the autonomous governance and the canton assemblies that the Kurds had been establishing since 2010. It instead sought the deformation of autonomous governance occuring there. The PKK has earned great legitimacy and prestige internationally with its struggle against the Turkey/ISIS gangs in Kobanê, Efrin and Sinjar.
The USA included Turkey, which cooperated with ISIS and was defeated in Syria, to its equation in Syria again in order to defy this development. The Turkish military went into Jarabulus on 24 July 2016 supposedly to fight against ISIS. This was a handover ceremony working under an agreement together with the USA’s air forces, because there was no armed conflict with ISIS and not a single member of ISIS lost his life. Turkey’s invasion in Syria after Jarabulus was normalized by the hand of the USA, Russia and the UN. Turkey did not invade the territories of ISIS, but the territories of the Kurds, which gained stability after being saved from ISIS.
The purpose is not for “national unity” together with ENKS, which has no social impact or weight in any other parts of Kurdistan and nowhere in Syria. The intention is to facilitate the inclusion of the KDP into the Autonomous Administration of Rojava.
The USA and France want the KDP to be a part of the administration in Rojava together with ENKS in order to complete the military invasion and the political degeneration of the Rojavan revolution. These two countries, the USA and France, who mediate between the PYD and ENKS and appeal to them to come together for the “national unity” of the Kurds, work in order to ensure that the KDP attacks the PKK together with Turkey. The very same USA has no interest in the national unity initiative in North Kurdistan. The national unity among the Kurds may only blossom with the participation of the PKK, the KDP, Goran and the PYD, but the USA and France does not see this fact. That is why their attempts do not create any excitement amongst the Kurds and do not draw support from society.