by Fayik Yağızay
Although it might appear that international institutions and global powers act according to principles, values, standards and conventions, we can see that their actions are based simply on their own interests. Almost every day, we witness how principles and values are trampled upon in the face of these interests.
We see that international institutions are mostly created and used by the global powers to obscure and make invisible their actual intentions and practices. The United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the European Union, etc. -established after the Second World War – all play a role in line with these purposes. Here, we will mainly touch on their hypocrisy regarding the Kurds.
The Kurds, being the largest stateless people in the world divided and denied their rights by artificial borders created by these very powers acting in their own interests.
The whole world knows that ISIS, which posed a great danger to the whole of humanity, was stopped and defeated by the Kurds at great cost in human sacrifice. The whole world should also know that the Turkish state supported ISIS and other similar organisations, and continues to support them. It has even used them in its operations in Libya, Karabakh, and Southern Kurdistan. These facts should be obvious, but they didn’t prevent Afrin being occupied by the Turkish state because of a decision made by Russia and approved by the USA.
The inhabitants of Afrin were forced to leave their homes and escape to a difficult life in refugee camps and tents in different regions of Syria. The remnants of ISIS and similar gangs were placed in their homes, and their land and other wealth was plundered by these gangs. In front of the whole world, there has been a demographic change that is considered a crime against humanity.
According to a report published by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2020, the Turkey-backed groups in occupied Afrin have been accused of organised extortion, looting, rape, kidnapping, murder, and property expropriation. But there has been no reaction from the UN Security Council or its five permanent members, including the United States and Russia.
Following the occupation of Afrin, and again with the encouragement of Russia and a green light from the USA, Gire Spi (Tell Abiad) and Serekaniye (Ras-Al-Ayn) were occupied by the Turkish State. The same practices that have taken place in Afrin have been repeated, and, again, neither the UN nor other international institutions have raised their voice in protest.
The current situation has been tacitly approved
While all of these inhumane practices carried out by Turkey and affiliated jihadists are clear to see, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has demonstrated his brazenness by saying, ‘Turkey has struggled the most against ISIS in the world’. Compare this to the treatment of Idlib, which has become a ‘Jihadistan’ under the control of Turkey. When the Syrian regime or Russia try to launch operations there, members of the international coalition, including the USA, call for direct intervention.
The Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria, which liberated one third of Syrian territory from ISIS, and has created a democratic system in which everyone living in the region can express themselves freely, and which strives for dialogue and a peaceful solution for the whole of Syria, is excluded from international meetings and conferences led by the UN. Invitations to attend these meetings and conferences are given to the Syrian regime, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and to jihadist organizations that are supported by Turkey but do not have any base among the people; but the Kurds have been excluded. Many meetings and conferences have been held in Geneva, but all of them have failed. Without a change of approach, it is inevitable that the next ones will fail as well.
In 2014, before the eyes of the whole world, when ISIS attacked Sinjar with weapons they had obtained from Mosul, the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces affiliated with the KDP retreated. The Yazidi people living there were subjected to a massacre, and thousands of Yazidi women were abducted and sold in the markets. With the intervention of PKK guerrillas and YPG/YPJ fighters, a greater massacre was prevented; and later, at a great price, Sinjar was liberated. Self-defence units, composed of the people of the region were formed and trained, and the PKK publicly declared their withdrawal.
However, since Sinjar was liberated, attacks have been carried out by Iraq, the KDP and Turkish forces, with loss of life and property. Recently, at the request of the Turkish Republic, and with the encouragement of the USA, an agreement was signed between the Iraqi central government and the KDP. This will allow them to carry out their project of ‘cleansing’ this area, which they effectively handed over to ISIS in 2014, of ‘foreign’ forces; in other words, those who were trained by the PKK and YPG/YPJ and are now defending Sinjar. Right now, thousands of armed troops from both the Iraqi army and the KDP peshmerga have besieged Sinjar and are preparing for a new massacre. This is being done with the connivance of the USA and the approval of the United Nations.
Also in 2014, when ISIS attacked Maxmur and reached the gates of Erbil and tried to enter Kirkuk, the Kurdistan Regional Government called on the support of the PKK. The PKK guerrillas descended from the mountains and passed through the city centres of Erbil and Kirkuk, encouraging the people as they went. When they got to the front, they removed. ISIS from Maxmur, and prevented the occupation of Erbil and Kirkuk.
For this reason, KDP leader, Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Regional President of the time, went to Maxmur, sat with the PKK commanders, and congratulated them. The same Massoud Barzani is now forgetting all of this, and, at the request of the United States and Turkey, is declaring the PKK guerrillas a ‘foreign power’ and trying to force them out of the borders of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They are even making preparations to fight the PKK guerrillas alongside the Turkish state and are sending special troops to the areas where there is conflict between Turkey and the PKK.
There was a brief clash with these special troops affiliated to the KDP when they entered PKK camps a while ago. Immediately after this conflict, the US, and then France, made statements condemning the PKK. It shows that this operation is not limited to the Turkish State and KDP, but is also backed by international global powers. Since the beginning of the first war between the PKK and Turkey, the United States, NATO, and all international institutions and global powers, including the EU, have followed a policy of unconditional support for the Turkish State.
During this period, despite Turkey committing war crimes and crimes against humanity – including burning thousands of villages, expelling millions of people from their land, thousands of extrajudicial executions, and torture – these powers and institutions have continued their support. From time to time, international institutions have criticised Turkey – always beginning with the phrase ‘we understand the legitimate security concerns of Turkey but …’. In this way they undermine their own criticism and demonstrate their hypocrisy; and Turkey is encouraged to continue as before.
In 2002, the PKK had pulled its forces out of Turkey, without military action, and was looking for a political solution to the Kurdish issue through dialogue. The European Union chose this time to put the PKK on its list of terrorist organisations. Through this, they signaled to Turkey to continue their war on the PKK.
Since then, the Turkish state has waged an unlimited war against the Kurds under the banner of ‘the war against terrorism’. They have criminalised all democratic methods of struggle by linking them with ‘terror’, so disallowing democratic development. Political parties and civil society organisations that were trying to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question and to promote democratisation have been banned.
Currently, the co-presidents and many MPs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third party in Turkey, have been jailed. Almost all HDP mayors have been dismissed – without involvement of a court – and been replaced by government-appointed trustees. Municipal councils have been dissolved, and many of the dismissed mayors have been put in prison. Dozens of deputies and mayors have become refugees abroad to avoid imprisonment, but there are thousands of people incarcerated because they are HDP politicians or members, and their numbers are being added to every day.
Disturbingly, global powers and international institutions still say; ‘Turkey is our strategic partner, hosting millions of refugees, a member of many of our institutions…’ They show an incredible tolerance for all that Turkey has done, and so feed the fascism of the Erdoğan government.
Recently, Erdoğan has started to threaten direct EU interests, both in the Mediterranean and Libya. When he is angry, he threatens to drive refugees into Europe, and he has called for a boycott of French goods. The recent terrorist attacks in France and Austria have caused alarm bells to ring about any espousal of divisive Islamist rhetoric, but the European Union still seems far from taking a clear critical stand.
In the American presidential election, Trump’s defeat and Biden’s victory brought a certain hope in some liberal circles. However, it should be clear that, no matter who the president of America is, there will be no significant change in general policy, just some minor nuances. It needs to be remembered that the international conspiracy against Abdullah Ocalan took place at a time when Democrats were in power in America. US support for Turkey’s war with the PKK has not changed, and this situation will not alter with the arrival of Biden.