Turkey’s not so secret war against the Kurds and its implications

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
Turkish soldiers © Sertac Kayar
While the Kurds have been absolutely instrumental to opposing terror in both Iraq and Syria, offering military relief and crucial geostrategic expertise, Erdogan’s Turkey – a NATO ally - has waged a brutal crackdown against the ethnic group.

Needless to say that Turkish President Erdogan’s alleged counter-terror goals have paled in comparison to his imperious need to prevent the rise of the Kurds as a potent sovereign power, one whose ambitions would lead to the loss of considerable swathes of land in Turkey’s southern region.

An imperialist in presidential clothing, Erdogan will never concede to the creation of a Kurdistan if it implies losing one inch of what he believes to be Turkey’s territorial birth right.

To preserve the territorial integrity of his mini-Ottoman kingdom, Erdogan has already proven just how far he is willing to go – never mind the blood and war abominations.

In a fashion reminiscent of the Armenian genocide – a genocide Turkey has always categorically refused to acknowledge on account it would tarnish its history and claims of political sanctity against its neighbours - Ankara’s actions against the Kurds are enough to nauseate the most hardened of neocons.

The international community has so far watched from the sidelines like an idle bystander as Turkey commits violence against the Kurds. On what account? Because Ankara has chosen to label each and every Kurdish activist as a 'terrorist', thus offering a veneer of legality and legitimacy to its actions. But the sheer violence, prolonged humanitarian blockade and other humiliations imposed on Turkey’s Kurdish populations have been far too outrageous for anyone to ignore – even for those international NGOs, like MSF (Doctors Without Borders), which have a selective type of outrage that has become somewhat of a political trait.

Earlier this March, RT lifted the veil on Erdogan’s secret war against the Kurds, thus prompting Moscow to ring the alarm and command international attention with the launch of a petition “calling for a UNHRC-led investigation into claims of alleged massacre of Kurds by the Turkish military during Ankara’s crackdown in the country's southeast.”

In February, the Turkish military ravaged the Kurdish city of Cizre under the pretense that PKK militants were running clandestine terror cells in the area, thus posing a threat to Turkey’s national security. The operation claimed the lives of hundreds civilians who sought refuge from the bombs and mortar shells in basements. RT also documented that some 150 people were burnt alive as Turkish forces worked to destroy all Kurdish resistance.

An official statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded that “any documented reports about brutal and massive human rights and international law violations [against the Kurds in Turkey] should be thoroughly investigated.”

If most media have used the word crackdown to maybe save Turkey, and by association, their own governments, the infamy of sitting outside common decency, and evidently international law – genocidal is not exactly a trait any nation would like to add to its political resume, Turkey’s campaign against the Kurds is much more than a drawn-out spat: it is a fully pledged, and fully fledged war.

Turkey’s assault against the Kurds has been systematic, vengeful and ever so murderous. In an investigative report for the Jacobin, Diego Cupolo wrote: “Locals tell stories of bodies being left in the street so long that dogs and cats begin to feed on them, of tanks entering residential neighborhoods and firing indiscriminately at houses, and of deceased women being found stripped naked with their breasts cut off.”

While I am no counter-terrorist expert, I would imagine that mutilating dead bodies helps little by way of restoring national security. I would even venture and say that Turkey is acting the terrorist against the Kurds here. Regardless of the facts that the PKK has indeed carried out attacks against the state to support its bid of independence, Ankara has too crossed a line in the misguided expression of its Turkic identity. One terror does not justify another …

Or does it? Looking at Western powers’ reluctance to curtail Turkey’s blood-thirst one would assume that legality is now only ever determined by powers’ ability to wield military might – welcome to the law of the jungle!

Where the world was only too eager to slam Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his now debunked use of chemical weapons against civilian populations to restore his power, not a word has been spent on President Erdogan’s propensity to slay and maim Kurdish civilians to reaffirm his own.

And while President al-Assad has been labelled an unworthy political partner by both the EU and the US over his “infractions” to international law, Erdogan has been hailed an ally against ISIL. Confused?

But here is where Western powers seriously need to review their position vis a vis Turkey: Erdogan’s immediate political interests are much too aligned with those of ISIL for anyone to view Ankara as a worthy counter-terror partner. If anything Erdogan has become a dangerous liability.

Look at it this way: if Turkish officials were willing to exploit Syria’s terror misfortune to traffic its oil, and bargain its refugees with the EU for financial gains, what will stop Erdogan from striking a deal with ISIL to disappear the Kurdish dossier? May I remind readers just how vital Kurdish fighters have proven to be against the Black Flag army? Without the Peshmerga in Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish forces, ISIL would have carved a greater caliphate to its rule, and this war we have been fighting might have taken a very different turn indeed.

From this perspective Turkey’s new brush with ISIL-based terrorism can be seen under a very different light. What if ISIL attacks were a sign not of terror expansion, but a warning of things to come should Ankara fail to honour its bargain with terror?

If Erdogan could blackmail the EU into complying with his demands by dangling mass-migration as one would a weapon of war why not presume that ISIL could do the same to rid itself of an enemy - the Kurds? Turkey’s terror attacks could have been meant as an incentive to smite the Kurds?

I’m not necessarily saying that it was, but we ought to consider the possibility… especially if we consider the history, connections and entanglements Turkey and ISIL have entertained with one another.

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