Turkey has been launching a military operation in the Avashin, Zap and Metina regions of the Qandil Mountains, known as the Medya Defence Zones, against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which has been based in the region for decades.
As the clashes continue between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Kurdish fighters, the invisible face of war, the economic aspects of the war’s policies and the destruction of nature are concealed from the public’s gaze as attention focuses on death tolls and diplomatic posturings.
Tith outbreaks of forest fires due to the Turkish state’s operations in the region, a campaign has been launched on Twitter with the hashtag #StopTurkeyEcocideKurdistan.
Political commentators have argued that the extensive deforestation taking place forms part of a standard ‘psychological warfare tactic’ aimed at terrorizing the local population and trying to subjugate them to the new ‘realities’ of the ‘new’ power brokers in the region, who they will now be expected to be dependent upon.
Another purpose, critics suggest, of Turkey’s campaign targeting the environment is to simply destroy the ecology of the region through deforestation and the sense of well-being of the people in the area who feel insecure and threatened when they see the environment around them being treated in this manner without any consultation with themselves.
It has been recently revealed that at least 450 tons of wood are felled daily and transported to Turkey from Iraqi Kurdistan even as the clashes continue in the region. Kurdistan Region Foreign Office Representative Sefin Dizeyi previously stated that they have been informed about the tree felling that is taking place, according to MA.
“New roads are being constructed for military operations. The companies that took this road tender also cut down the trees,” he said.
The trees are felled in partnership with Cengiz Holdings (a company which is widely known for its strong ties with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party) and companies belonging to the relatives of Kurdistan Democratic Party Politburo member Ali Awnî. Then, they are transported to Turkey and sold in coordination with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), MA reported.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar visited troops on Iraqi soil in early May after which Baghdad summoned the Turkish Chargé d’Affairs and handed him a protest note in response to the ongoing violations, including the presence of the Turkish Defense Minister in Iraqi territories without prior coordination.
“The Iraqi government categorically rejects the continuing violations of Iraqi sovereignty and sanctity of its lands and airspace by the Turkish military forces, and that continuing with such an approach is not consistent with friendly relations, good neighborliness, and standing international laws and norms,” said H.E. Mr. Nizar Al-Khairallah, the Senior Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3 May on a written statement.
Despite such warnings, bombs continue to fall, taking away “2.5 percent of Iraq’s forested areas” according to Arab News and trees continue to be felled at an alarming rate in northern Iraq.