‘Erdogan’s ambition is to be sultan, the absolute ruler of Turkey’

A girl stands at a building, which was damaged during the security operations and clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants, in the southeastern town of Cizre in Sirnak province, Turkey. © Sertac Kayar
Recep Erdogan wants to change the Turkish constitution and makeup of the country, which means Kurds will lose their rights and left to his tender mercies, said Kani Xulam of the American Kurdish Information Network.

RT: What's your attitude to Ankara’s military campaign in Cizre?

Kani Xulam: What the government of Turkey has done in Cizre is a war crime. They have attacked civilians who have not taken part in the fighting. According to Professor Sebnem Korur Fincanci of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, 178 civilians were deliberately targeted in three different basements. Among some of the dead were kids as young as nine to 10 years-old. Her conclusions are that the government deliberately not only targeted them and killed them, but also burned them, and now the people are left with bones alone…

RT: Let’s speak about numbers. How many people have left the city and how many are still there?

KH: Well, the city had - before the lockdown started - 130,000 people living in it. The lockdown lasted 79 days, and on March 3 authorities for the first time allowed people to go in. Right now they are talking about 15-20,000 people, who are still living there. So 90 percent of the town has left, has gone to other towns and cities in the Kurdish parts of Turkey, or some of them have even left for Europe. Two families were found in the boats that are crossing the Aegean. They have joined the Syrian refuges to seek refuge in Europe.

RT: What do you think is Erdogan's ultimate goal with respect to the Kurds?

KH: President Erdogan wants to be the supreme leader. That is really the game that he is now playing in Turkey. And the Kurds don’t want him to be the supreme leader. He is a President now; presidency in Turkey is a ceremonial post for the last ninety years. Now he wants to change the constitution; he wants to change the makeup of the government and declare himself basically a sultan. Kurds know that if he becomes a sultan then [the Kurds] will have basically no rights; they will be left to his tender mercies.

In the last election on June 7, 2015 they got 80 deputies denying him the absolute majority, and that really angered him. Then he engaged in small talk to form a government – his Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoglu did – he never even talked to the Kurds. Then he called for “repeat elections,” began a campaign of intimidation against the Kurds and got his majority vote. But still he doesn’t have the absolute majority, which he craves, which he wants so that he could become the absolute ruler of Turkey.

Civil war already under way in Turkey

The city of Cizre could quite easily return to normality provided the Turkish government stopped its war against its own Kurdish population, said the editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs Gregory Copley.

RT: You have seen the photos; can you say what armaments the Turkish army used?

Gregory Copley: If the damage occurred in this latest round of fighting then they were using heavy weapons… it looks like there was heavy artillery used to some degree, perhaps even air bombardments. We don’t know the story because Cizre has been under a lot of bombardment since at least September last year with heavy causalities. Then the Turkish government denied there is any major military operation under way there. But clearly there has been using fairly heavy ground weapons and possibly even air weapons.

RT: Is there any chance the city can return to normal life?

GC: Well, it has been a protracted period of attacks on Cizre since September. So it’s got an accumulation of damage, which may not be on the scale of some of the Syrian cities yet, but certainly this is going to have a long-term impact. I believe the city could quite easily return to a normal state within a few years, provided the Turkish government stopped its war against its own Kurdish population. That war is escalating; President Erdogan has said that it would continue to escalate against the Kurds and by default the Sirnak residents of Cizre and the entire… region in the east of Turkey.  

RT: Is Ankara at the point of no return here? Is there still something that can be done by Turkey to stop the violations?

GC: It’s very hard to target a small selective group of armed opponents in the middle of an urban setting. I believe the Turkish government has ceased to be discriminating in its attacks on Kurdish areas. President Erdogan has made it clear that he has now declared all-out war on the Kurds. He said he is not afraid of bringing on a full scale civil war. I think he is doing that.

The Kurds made it clear that they would themselves escalate the fighting against Turkish cities, in other words, outside the Kurdish areas by June this year, and possibly just starting to escalate after the Navruz New Year holidays – the start of spring. The Turkish government is now doubling down on its efforts to try to contain the PKK before the PKK can inflict major damage.

I think that it is already too late. The fact is that there is now reporting on the civil war, which is already under way in Turkey; that is now becoming public knowledge in Europe and the US. This means that Turkey may have reached a point of no return on its entry into the EU and its relationships with the rest of NATO, including the US. The only thing that is supporting Turkey right now is the US government of President Obama, who is committed to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood governments wherever they are in the region, and of course the Erdogan government is a Muslim Brotherhood government.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.