Throughout history and particularly in recent years, the Kurdish people have encountered significant challenges. They have endured profound losses and experienced immense suffering, yet they have demonstrated remarkable resilience and continued to advance their cause. Presently, they find themselves navigating another arduous phase, with forthcoming events poised to shape their future. It is crucial to underscore that the primary antagonist to the Kurdish people is the Turkish state, and the Kurdish phobia perpetuated by the Turkish regime stands as the sole catalyst for regional instability.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of recent events and their implications, it is imperative to analyse the outcomes of the Turkish elections held on 14 and 28 May, alongside the accompanying developments. It is important to acknowledge that these elections in Turkey lacked genuine credibility, as they were designed to create an illusion of democracy. The underlying motivation behind this design is rooted in the ongoing conflict against the Kurdish population and the government’s strategic perspective.
Erdoğan’s ‘Collapse Plan’
Under the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his team, the current regime has pursued a policy of denial, annihilation, and subjugation, particularly since 2015. The government officially refers to this approach as the “Collapse Plan.” Their objective is to avoid grappling with the so-called Kurdish issue during the second century of the Republic of Turkey. Their ultimate aim is to mould individuals who identify as Kurds into loyal servants of the state, even if they acknowledge their Kurdish identity.
Consequently, the government maintains an aggressive and unwavering stance, launching attacks against all Kurdish organisations that represent Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and even within EU countries. It exhibits no willingness to retreat from this position. Unfortunately, this state of war has pushed Turkey to the brink of economic collapse, eroded moral values, and undermined democratic norms. In fact, it has significantly eroded public confidence in the Erdoğan regime. Nonetheless, the “state mentality” prioritises the war against the Kurds over these concerns and has devised even more aggressive moves, including making specific figures, who have been operating behind the scenes until now, ministers (such as Turkey’s recently appointed Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, who used to serve as the intelligence chief).
Escalating isolation and impending assault
The aggressive moves alluded to in this context primarily revolve around the absolute isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the intellectual and ideological leader of the Kurdish movement. Restrictions on family and lawyer visits to Öcalan, which were already limited, have been further prohibited, citing disciplinary measures. This prohibition of even non-existent visits serves as a direct means of humiliating the Kurdish population.
Furthermore, when journalist Merdan Yanardağ publicly stated that Öcalan was held unlawfully under isolation, he was promptly arrested. It is worth noting that Yanardağ is someone who holds opposing political views to Öcalan but also criticises the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The objective here is not to associate Öcalan with the concept of isolation. Previously, it was forbidden to address Öcalan as “Mr.”. Now, the notion of isolation is being employed as a pretext for punishment. The ultimate aim is to relegate Öcalan to obscurity and leave the Kurds without a guiding figure. The isolation of Öcalan serves as the initial step in the declared war against the Kurds. Based on the experiences of the past 25 years, we have witnessed that intensified isolation correlates with an escalation of the conflict. Conversely, when the isolation measures are eased, the state of war tends to recede to some extent.
The present treatment of Öcalan indicates the challenging circumstances that are likely to unfold in the near future. Foremost, there is a high probability of a comprehensive assault on Rojava, the Kurdish-led autonomous administration in northern Syria. Negotiations with the United States and Russia, which have been ongoing for an extended period, persist in new formats to serve this purpose. However, Turkey faces certain limitations in this regard. Even if the US and Russia permit limited actions in specific regions, the manner in which Turkey will encounter resistance there remains uncertain. Nonetheless, there is an intention to continue heavy bombardment along the border and carry out targeted assassinations of Rojava’s political and military leaders at an accelerated pace.
Ankara’s aggressive pursuit: Eradicating Kurdish status
Concurrently, Ankara seeks to establish a peaceful relationship with Damascus. In the current circumstances, Ankara’s sole objective in Syria is to eradicate any Kurdish status. To achieve this, Turkey will employ all available means at its disposal.
While the likelihood of such events occurring is uncertain, it is undeniably a perilous situation for the Kurds. The prospect of facing intense attacks and paying a heavy price to safeguard their fundamental rights looms over them once again.
Additionally, the continuation of military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan remains a possibility. However, Ankara may have learned from the previous year’s failed attempts. Consequently, attacks, including assassinations, may be carried out by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on behalf of Ankara.
As the Erdoğan regime prepares for the upcoming local elections in 2024, it is evident that they are also strategising to neutralise the Kurdish vote. In the previous 2019 elections, the opposition won 11 of Turkey’s largest cities, largely due to Kurdish support. This time, Erdoğan aims to fracture the opposition within itself to prevent Kurdish votes from being decisive. The Good Party (İYİP) led by the far-right figure Meral Akşener has already announced its intention to separate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). Consequently, with the opposition already fragmented, some of these cities may revert back to Erdoğan’s control. In such a scenario, neither side would heavily rely on Kurdish votes. Although the success of this strategy remains uncertain, it is the plan being pursued.
Furthermore, the Turkish regime will support and promote certain Islamist Kurdish groups, which act as apparatuses of the state, as supposed “alternatives” in the cities where the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is expected to win. This manoeuvre is intended to impede the HDP’s success in municipal elections, despite its likelihood of being challenging. However, following the elections, the trustee policy, where appointed officials replace elected Kurdish mayors, may once again come into effect.
Unyielding Kurdish struggle amidst government’s strategy of annihilation
These examples indicate that there is currently no inclination in Ankara to acknowledge the existence and rights of the Kurdish people. The sole focus is on annihilation. Unfortunately, this strategy of annihilation is expected to persist in some form. Meanwhile, the Kurdish community is engaged in discussions regarding various debates and new strategies to counter these challenges. We can anticipate new declarations on these matters in the near future.
Regrettably, despite international powers being aware of and witnessing the complete picture, they continue to maintain their position of “monitoring” and supporting Turkey for their own vested interests. They disregard the basic human rights of a people and cling to outdated notions like “terrorism.” They provide support to the Erdoğan regime, which has ties to groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) and shares their extremist mindset.
However, one thing is certain: the Kurdish struggle will not retreat. This determination signifies that the road ahead will be arduous and demanding.
* Amed Dicle was born and raised in Diyarbakır, Turkey. He has worked for Kurdish-language media outlets in Europe including Roj TV, Sterk TV and currently ANF. His career has taken him to Rojava, Syria, Iraq and many countries across Europe. Follow him on Twitter.