Translated from Yeni Özgür Politika
In discussing the topic regarding “relations between national unity and democracy” – an issue which I examined in my previous article – I arrived at the conclusion that national unity requires peace, which means a ceasefire, and that peace can only be possible under conditions of democracy. This in turn implies that there must be a close linkage between national unity and democracy. For national unity without democracy makes no sense. National unity requires one to unite on the basis of demoratic principles. As I seek to highlight in this article, one can see that national unity can only be realised if it is based on democratic principles. Therefore, Kurdish national unity needs to be based on Kurdish democracy.
If we examine this issue in reverse, the first principle of Kurdish democracy must rest on the nationality principle. Why? Because tribalism is still quite strong as it is in the case of mobilisation and power with regard to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). This suggests that there is a reality which obstructs the realisation of acting as a nation yet. Also, the fact that the hegemony of global capitalist modernity divided Kurdistan and imposed genocide against Kurdish people preserves and deepens that situation. For instance, the administration of the KDP and the Barzani family consider that the southern part of Kurdistan – delivered to them by capitalist modernity after World War I – is their property. That means, they resemble Meliks (princes) in the Arab regions, in terms of how they conceive their ‘property’.
Barzani considers Iraqi Kurdistan as his property
For example, the main idea behind the KDP Secretary-General Mesoud Barzani’s statements regarding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is that the “PKK must leave Southern Kurdistan”. Why should this be the case? Because Mesoud Barzani considers Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan) as his property. For that reason, he can easily say: ‘The PKK must leave my property’. It can be expressed at this point that Mesoud Barzani’s words regarding the PKK and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s words regarding the Kurdish people have the same type of meaning. Of course, it is natural to indicate these similarities as their acquisitive and despotic mindsets are the same.
The KDP Chair Barzani has mentioned in statements that the “PKK is merely a guest in Southern Kurdistan”. Of course, following this reasoning, if someone is a guest in a place, there must be a landlord to that place as well. If the PKK is the guest in Southern Kurdistan, then who is the landlord? From this point of view, it is unquestionable that the landlord is the KDP – in fact, the Barzani family. Why is this? It is said: “The PKK was founded in Diyarbakır (Amed), so it is an organization of Northern Kurdistan (South and East Turkey)”. But if these are the grounds upon which the PKK can only remain a guest in Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan), then what can we say about the KDP which was founded in Mahabat? In this case, do we have to not equally say that the KDP must go to Rojhilat Kurdistan (Iranian Kurdistan)?
Does the system in the South recognize the PKK?
It is stated in some quarters that the PKK does not recognize the system of the South. But has Southern Kurdistan’s system recognized and accepted the PKK? The side that does not recognize the PKK – in fact, the one that states that the PKK is ‘a terror organization’ secretly – is the KDP. In looking at double standards, why is it that the KDP believes that it can organize in four parts of Kurdistan, but the PKK cannot?
I highlight these points merely to reveal the contradictions inherent within the KDP’s mindset. That mindset indicates a non-national way of thinking (within the wider context of a unified Kurdistan), as well as an acquisitive, primitive nationalist, local and tribalist mindset. So, it seriously blocks Kurdish nationalization and democracy where the first principle of Kurdish democracy becomes the principle of nationality. What is required is a mindset that refutes tribalist insularity as well as one that refuses to only examine Kurdistan within the prism of its four divided parts. One needs to always consider the integrity of Kurdistan at the outset.
The second principle of Kurdish national unity
The second principle of Kurdish national unity must be freedom of thought, speech and freedom to criticise. Freedom of thought, speech and organizing are the basic requirements of a democratic mindset. There must be criticism and self-criticism. For instance, the PKK does not follow the mindset which dominates the KDP’s orientation. It considers it harmful in terms of national-democratic existence and the future of Kurdish people and so it criticizes the KDP on this basis. However, the KDP considers this form of criticism as hostility and refuses to address these types of criticisms. The KDP aims to remove the system of criticism and self-criticism in its sphere of influence: therefore, it aims to remove freedom of thought and expression.
The third principle
At this point, we have to examine the third principle of Kurdish democracy. The language of democracy is one in which one acts, as leader Abdullah Öcalan has stated. Democracy without action resembles something which cannot express or realize itself. As a result, it will not come into being. On the other hand, Kurdistan has been divided and subjected to barbaric genocides for a hundred years. The dominant colonialist mindset and its politics aims to eliminate Kurdish society and carry out destructive attacks at every waking moment. A society subjected to this kind of genocide must be alert and ready to act to defend itself to be free and exist. That means, to ensure democratic unity, a permanent freedom struggle is necessary.
National Unity, yes, but how is this to be realized?
From the preceding discussion, it is evident that the national unity issue has been clouded by several conflicting perspectives. National unity is permanenly talked about but it is almost fetishised and presented as a solution to all ills. However, the issue of how it will be realized is seldom addressed. There is a false perception that it is possible to ensure national unity without democracy and freedom. But it is obvious that without a correct understanding of national unity and a struggle on this basis, national unity will never happen. Internal conflicts and clashes will instead occur. These are the dilemmas KDP chairman Mesoud Barzani faces.