Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) co-chair Cemil Bayık spoke on recent developments in parts of Kurdistan, Turkey, the Middle East and the world, focusing on the latest Turkish incursions into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), the attitude of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Turkey’s ongoing attacks against the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), the pressures faced by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, and the severe isolation imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The third part of the interview, a lightly edited version of the original, is presented below.
Impact on Kurdistan of the war in Ukraine
Although Ukraine has suffered huge damage from Russia’s invasion, Russia itself has not been able to achieve what it set out to do. The forces of capitalist modernity also believed that they would be able to achieve quick results in the conflict, but they shared the same fate. The war continues, and will continue. This places capitalist modernity in a critical situation, and makes it more dependent on Turkey.
Ankara wants to continue relations with both Kiev and Moscow, but more importantly, with NATO. It has once again realised its path could get Ankara its desired results.
Turkey is also using the West’s desire to transport Middle Eastern gas and oil to Europe in its attempt to destroy the PKK. This is why NATO is turning a blind eye to Ankara’s actions – it has not taken a stance against Ankara’s use of chemical weapons or its occupation of Syria and Iraq. When Russia attacked Ukraine, the whole world protested. But Turkey’s occupation of Iraqi Kurdistan and northern Syria, its use of chemical weapons, unlawful killings and destruction of the natural environment in these lands raise no protest. Because these international forces share certain interests with Turkey.
They want to use Turkey for their goals, and Turkey considers this an opportunity, knowing that it can get Russian support. Ankara hopes to successfully pursue a genocidal policy against the Kurds and the PKK.
Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) both share Europe’s desire to transport gas and oil to the continent, and only European interests matter to Europe. Ethics, conscience, human rights, democracy or freedom do not weigh on Europe. For the oil to come, they turn a blind eye to all, and even offer some support.
Currently Europe is spreading propaganda that the PKK was not allowing this pipeline, and that is why it is being attacked. But the PKK has never obstructed any transport of gas or oil. It has no such policy. This is just an excuse to cover up their war of annihilation and genocide against the Kurdish people. By this, Turkey wishes to achieve its pre-[Treaty of] Lausanne borders and realise its neo-Ottoman goals. Their policies are not based on human rights or anything like, but on their own interests, and they wish to sacrifice the Kurds for it.
Blackmailing Sweden and Finland
Like each member of the alliance, Turkey has the authority to veto Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO. As such, Ankara is using this power as blackmail, demanding that [Finland and Sweden] stand against the Kurdish people. Some member states have already said they would consider Turkey’s demands, effectively saying that the demands should be accepted.
Still others have accepted the demands outright – to carry out Turkey’s demands, destroy the PKK and enact a Kurdish genocide. This is my warning that what they are doing is very dangerous. They should not pursue a hostile policy towards the Kurds and the PKK. They should not support the Turkish state. They need to avoid giving in to Turkey’s blackmail, and reject its demands.
Otherwise they will suffer great harm. The Kurds are no longer as they were; they understand these games very well. Nobody can secure their own interests by sacrificing the Kurds. The Kurds have clearly chosen freedom. They have decided to live freely or die. It is important for all to recognise this.
Turkey also wishes to crush democratic circles in Sweden and Finland.
Following the assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, Sweden held the PKK responsible for the murder and put the PKK on the list of terrorist organisations. It came to light much later that the PKK had nothing to do with it, but that it was the Turkish intelligence service that was involved.
For years, Sweden treated the Kurds and the PKK unfairly. They need to change course and apologise to Kurds.
There are many people in Europe who work for the freedom of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and for the delisting of the PKK [from the terror list], and Turkey knows that this demand is growing. This is why they are now using blackmail.
The need for a democratic solution in Sinjar
As Turkey was attacking Zap in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq launched an attack on Sinjar in a clearly connected move. The day of the attacks was Çarşema Sor, one of the most important holidays of the local Yazidi people.
This shows that Iraq did not decide on this attack on its own, but rather carried out another’s request. Iraq has absolutely no interest to gain from such an attack. On the contrary, it suffered losses. It can be said that it was Washington who made Baghdad carry out this attack. And who motivated Washington? The KDP and Turkey. They have been working together since 2016, starting in Jarablus.
Iraq realised in the recent attack on Sinjar that a war there could only cause further harm. If Iraq attacks the Yazidis, it puts itself in the same position as ISIS. The Yazidis do not wish to secede from Iraq. They do not consider Iraq to be an enemy. They are not demanding their own state. They simply want to live in Iraq with their own identity, religion and values. The Yazidis have suffered more than 70 massacres. They want to be able to protect themselves. These are not difficult demands to accept, and Iraq would only benefit.
Some residents tried to leave Sinjar to protect themselves. They were led into KDP controlled areas by KDP intelligence, in an attempt to depopulate the area and create the illusion that only the KDP could offer stability. This was an attempt to occupy Sinjar. Iraq realised this and stopped its attacks. Now, Iraq wants to resolve existing problems through dialogue, not war – just as the Yazidis demand. I believe negotiations are continuing. We hope they achieve results. All [parties] should take into account the sensibilities of both Iraq and the Yazidis. They need to achieve common ground.
Turkey´s Destructive Syria Policy
Erdoğan wanted to take down the Damascus government and help the Muslim Brotherhood gain power in Syria, taking Syria under the control of Turkey. When he realised he would not be able to achieve this goal, the Turkish president opened Turkey’s borders to the Syrian people. Millions of people crossed into Turkey with help from the Turkish intelligence agency. Then, [Turkey] threatened to send these millions of people to Europe, which was severely rattled and gave in completely to Erdoğan´s demands.
To date, Europe has given billions of Euros to Turkey and deliberately ignored its genocidal policy. All Syrian industry was carried over to Turkey. Syrians have become a cheap labour force in Turkey. Thus, Turkey has benefited greatly from them economically.
Turkey also fromed an army of the remaining jihadist proxies and utilised these mercenary-militants in Libya, Azerbaijan and more. Today, these proxies are sent anywhere Turkey needs them.
Erdoğan tells Arab states that Syrians in Turkey are suffering and that they want to live in Arab countries. Turkey’s goal by this is to settle its proxies and their families in north and east Syria and change the Kurdish-majority nature of the region. Turkey is forcing Kurds to leave their homes in order to replace them with Islamist militias, in an attempt to cut off ties between Turkey and Rojava.
Turkey wants to annex all the areas that it has occupied, including Afrin, Bab, Jarablus, Serêkaniyê [Ras al-Ayn] and Girê Spî [Tell Abyad], just as it did with Hatay province in the 1930s. They have established governorates that operate under Şanlıurfa (Riha) and Gaziantep (Dilok) provinces. The occupied cities have Turkish language schools, Turkish flags flying, and police and banking services in Turkish, run by Turkish companies. Erdoğan paints this as a humanitarian effort but it is against the interests of the locals. The settlement of their proxies in the area will force capitulations from the people. Then he will call a referendum, joining these areas with Turkey. This is a real danger.