by Ertuğrul Kürkçü
American people have stopped the march of fascism to power in the United States. This is a great gain not only for the American people but also for all progressive movements across the globe.
Obviously, the ascension of the Democrats to power under the leadership of Biden-Harris does not change the nature of the dominant socio-economic character of American society or of the political character of the United States as such. With Joe Biden-Kamala Harris governing, it still remains the Mecca of world capitalism, even after the defeat of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, the popular movements, the real driving force behind the Democratic momentum, will inevitably change the course of politics in the USA and send waves of change across the globe – including Kurdistan and Turkey.
The immediate international and domestic reactions provide an overall reflection of how Trump’s defeat and Biden-Harris’s victory is generally perceived by the contending social and political forces across the globe. The 3 November election results have been generally covered by the global right-wing forces as a blow on the world view and long-term interests of the populist lumpen bourgeoisie and crony capitalists in the periphery – such as Bolsonaro of Brasil, Duterte of the Philippines, Orban of Hungary, Erdoğan of Turkey, etc.
Under the Trump administration, the general understanding of a world system based on the interrelations of individual states under the reign of human rights, democracy and the rule of law was deliberately targeted and destroyed by US domestic and foreign policy in order to promote national selfishness, wild trade wars, the negation of human rights of refugees, women, workers, and people of colour. The principles of equality, justice, and freedom were thrown overboard. The Trump administration openly backed authoritarian, autocratic and populist regimes in the allied countries. And in Turkey, it particularly supported the crackdown on the rights of our peoples and ongoing discriminatory and racist government practices. In the last four years, the USA comprised the major external dynamic in propelling the rise of fascism in Turkey.
The surge of popular movements on the eve of the US elections played a major role in overthrowing Trump from power. It is very likely that they still may play an important part in determining the itinerary of the new administration in its initial stages in power. Surrounding the White House with the tide of an active anti-racist and anti-war wave and encompassing the government with democratic, libertarian, and egalitarian values, the popular movements could possibly affect US foreign policy in a more progressive way. For the peoples of Turkey, that might be the main advantage resulting from the global impact of the Biden-Harris victory.
Washington’s handling of the Kurdish conflict
We might also witness that the power change in the White House positively affects the course of Washington’s handling of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Kurds under the Trump administration suffered from one of the worst betrayals by American foreign policy. Having liberated Rojava Kurdistan – or Northern and Eastern Syria – from ISIS atrocities after six years of incessant fighting and having made immeasurable sacrifices, the Kurdish self-rule in North Syria was exposed to Turkish invasion when the Trump administration in 2018 lit the green light for the invasion of Êfrin and in 2019 pulled out US forces from the international alliance and opened the way to occupation of Serekanî by Turkey’s jihadi proxy armies.
After the advent of the Biden-Harris administration, it is highly unlikely that US foreign policy towards Kurdistan will follow a similar line of betrayal and cooperate with the local aggressors against the Kurdish cause. However, despite valuing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) led Syrian Democratic Forces’ resistance against ISIS, Biden is also known for his inclination “to accommodate Turkish fears of Syrian Kurdish autonomy, warning the YPG to avoid creating a ‘separate enclave on the Syrian-Turkish border’” – as analyzed in a joint article by Aykan Erdemir and Philip Kowalski of The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
However, Biden has also “refused to call the YPG a terrorist group for its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”. And he has further criticized Trump’s October 2019 withdrawal of US troops from Syria’s northern border for the Turkish offensive. Biden had then sharply denounced that Trump “sold out the Syrian Democratic Forces — the courageous Kurds and Arabs who fought with us to smash ISIS’s caliphate — and he betrayed a key local ally in the fight against terrorism”.
All in all, the realignment of forces in South and West Kurdistan under the new US leadership would positively affect the Kurdish bid for international legitimacy for the right to self-determination and nurture prospects of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict while bringing Turkey’s uncompromising policies under broader international criticism.
The withdrawal of the “invisible hand” of Donald Trump?
An equally important prospect to follow from the change in the White House could be the withdrawal of the “invisible hand” of Donald Trump from influencing the New York courts who have been trying the Turkish public-owned Halkbank officials with close links to the Erdoğan administration. Involving an intricate network of Erdoğan family members and top government officials, the Halkbank case is the Achilles heel for Turkey’s president Erdoğan. It might expose Turkey’s autocrat to the risk of being indicted for a major part in circumventing US sanctions against Iran. According to reports and official investigations, Trump is charged with interfering in the US judiciary processes in favour of Erdoğan and his allies. After Trump’s descent from power, it is highly likely that Erdoğan, Trump, their sons-in-law and allies will be faced with serious charges for establishing illegitimate relations. That is, Trump’s defeat destroys a major pillar of Erdoğan’s undeserved legitimacy in the international community.
Elections in Bolivia and the United States
Two recent consecutive elections in Bolivia and the United States provide a positive example for all the peoples of the globe that if peoples are organized, united, and focused on their immediate cause and led masterfully, they can overthrow either a fascist coup staged with support from Washington or the fascist in the White House, armoured with the might of the US Presidency, that stages fascist coups at home and abroad.
This is the major lesson to be drawn from the recent popular victories gained in the western hemisphere for the opposition forces in our part of the world. We appreciate the successes of other peoples and we are delighted with their sense of victory. We need such morale. Nevertheless, we win democracy by ourselves. No one can do this for us, not even Joe Biden.