by Fréderike Geerdink
The KCK, an umbrella group of several armed and unarmed Kurdish groups which are active in all four parts of Kurdistan, is juggling its alliances these days in the several struggles and wars it is waging. On the one hand, it co-depends on the US in the north of Syria to prevent Turkey from invading, while on the other hand the co-leader of the executive council, Cemil Bayık, said the group is not just fighting against Turkey in the north of Iraq, but actually against NATO too. Confronted with this contradiction, spokesperson Zagros Hiwa said that the contradiction is not on the KCK’s side, but on the US and NATO’s side: “The US and NATO are opposing invasions in one part of the world while encouraging it elsewhere. They should leave this double standard behind.”
He was, obviously, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, adding: “In the mountains in the north of Iraq, there is a war going on with the same dimensions as the war in Ukraine but unfortunately, local and international media are not covering it.”
One of the similarities of the wars of Russia in Ukraine and of Turkey in Kurdistan, is the miscalculation the agressors have made about the power of their opponents. Putin thought he would run over Ukraine in a couple of days but has been making only minor progress in the four months since the invasion began, while the Turkish army too is not making the progress it was hoping to have made ever since ‘Operation Claw Lock’ began two months ago.
Zagros Hiwa in Mountain View Podcast: “Relying on sophisticated technology and high tech fire power, Turkey had planned to invade the Zap region in a relatively short period of time and to eliminate all guerrilla positions. They wanted to, in their terms, ‘lock’ the guerrilla fighters in the Zap region but instead, they themselves were locked and unable to make much progress.”
Getting into the numbers of the war and specifically on the number of casualties among Turkish soldiers, he said that between the start of ‘Claw Lock’ on 17 April and 17 June, 1075 Turkish soldiers had died. Turkey has announced the death of a few dozen soldiers, but so far not more than a thousand and not even a few hundred. Asked how Turkey could possibly cover up the deaths of that many of their soldiers, he said that Turkey often works with soldiers who have special contracts, which state that when they lose their lives in battle, their deaths don’t have to be announced and their families will be taken care of in exchange.
It is hard to verify this, but Zagros explained how the KCK collects the numbers: “Guerrillas either see how many soldiers get killed as a result of their actions, or they take over positions and count the bodies. In some cases, the exact numbers can’t be verified and those deaths won’t be counted. So the numbers I gave you are not an exaggeration.”
He said that the soldiers who are sent to combat against the PKK are part of an army that Erdoğan created after 2012, of ‘hired killers’: “They get a contract”, he said, “which states that their deaths will not be announced to the public. They take a high salary, and are promised that the state will look after their families forever in case they get killed. There can be no memorial service, no condolences, everything must be kept secret.” Hiwa calls this “Part of the war Erdoğan is waging against all communities in Turkey, including the Turks”.
Hiwa has repeated the PKK’s accusation that Turkey is using chemical weapons in its war against the PKK. Even though it is impossible to independently verify these claims, the KCK spokesperson insisted that both conventional and unconventional weapons are used, adding: “International institutions, global powers and collaborators of the Turkish army here in the region [he is referring to KDP] cover up these war crimes. The international community discloses the use of chemical weapons when it is in their own interest.”
In the podcast, Hiwa elaborates on this subject and on the role the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] plays.
Please listen to the podcast for the whole interview.