Analyses

Turkey and Kurdophobia

Turkey and Kurdophobia

On April 18, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced the launch of a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq), which he called “Claw Lock” and that it targeted PKK strongholds in the areas of Matina, Zap and Avashin .

This operation was part of two previous ones that Turkey has launched since 2020, which are “Tiger Claw” and “Eagle Claw”. Turkey claims to protect its borders and national security, and it is a series of broader Turkish war strategy that targets the Kurdish presence in all parts of Kurdistan.

The timing of this operation shows Turkey’s intention to exploit the situation, whether in Iraq and its political crisis it is experiencing, or the Russian-Ukrainian war and its recent rapprochement with the US.

What is more interesting is that the operation came two days after a visit by Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), to Ankara, during which he met with Erdogan and the head of Turkish intelligence, which indicates a state of coordination that had been agreed upon, given the presence of the intelligence chief at the meeting.

This sparked a state of popular resentment even within the Kurdistan Region itself, especially after Erdogan announced that “his country is cooperating closely with the central Iraqi government and the regional administration in northern Iraq.”

In conjunction with its operation in KRI, Turkey intensified its operations in the areas of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) which indicates that what was delaying Turkey from starting its operation was nothing but political understandings that were being hatched in secret.

The military operation, according to what Turkey announced, aims to control the Zap region, which is PKK’s headquarters and the party’s strategic land corridor to Turkey, but it seems that there are other undeclared goals, such as Turkey’s intentions to become the gas gateway to Europe in light of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Several meetings were held between the Turkish and Israeli presidents, and between the Turkish and KRI presidents in order to secure the supposed areas for the construction of new gas pipelines within a project from Kurdistan to Turkey as an alternative to Iranian gas. This is what Iran considers a threat to its economic interests, and it responded by targeting Erbil with several ballistic missiles that carry clear and direct messages that it will not stand idly by.

Among the undeclared goals of Turkey is their ambition in Mosul vilayet, which includes Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Duhok and Kirkuk. These areas are considered by Turkey to be affiliated with it under Misak-ı Millî, is a charter that guarantees Turkey’s hegemony over the entire northern Syria, all the way to Mosul in Iraq.

Since the beginning of Turkish military campaign, Turkish media has been promoting victories and establishing military bases in the areas that have been secured, but the real indicators after more than a month and a half suggest otherwise. The complex geographical nature of these areas and the resistance shown by the PKK members who have trained in mountain warfare clearly indicate that Turkey has not made any progress on the ground and it makes the possibility of resolving the conflict impossible. Also, all the facts on the ground indicate that the reality in KRI will not change radically, as Turkey claims. This proves the failure of the Turkish military engagement, as well as all its previous operations, and that the war will not lead to results but to more bloodshed on both sides.

The Kurdish issue in Turkey needs a peaceful and consensual solution that guarantees the rights of the Kurds, their cultural identity, their mother tongue and their official political representation in the Turkish parliament in addition to achieving Kurdish autonomy, but the political will in Turkey which takes a national character, seeks otherwise, which is manifested in its handling of the Kurdish issue in terms of marginalization and exclusion. Burning villages, persecuting MPs and activists, and detaining them in prisons under the pretext of being linked to the PKK are a clear example of that.

This indicates that there is no sign of peace by the Turkish authority which does not intend to take any serious step in the path of peace between the Kurds and the Turkish state and accept the Kurds by entering into sincere negotiations with the PKK because it is the legitimate representative of the Kurds, and to solve the Kurdish issue legally, constitutionally and political according to international legitimacy and the rights of peoples to self-determination.

Not launching new battles under flimsy pretexts which have become clear to everyone that it targets the Kurdish presence wherever it is, whether inside Turkey or in neighboring countries such as Syria and Iraq, in which the Kurds have achieved semi-independent administrations.

If the situation remains as it is regarding the Turkish policy that refuses openness to the Kurdish file and its continuation in the strategy of military force, it blocks the way to achieving any chance for peace and creates more tension and instability within Turkey itself and in the neighboring countries.

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