Archive for December, 2005

BLOOD MONEY

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2005 by Mizgîn
“The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives in the dark.” ~ Jack Anderson.

I noticed Vladimir posted an entry on his blog, From Holland to Kurdistan about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy, which is high on my list of personal aggravations. I was going to post some comments to his entry, but as I started to write I felt myself making the change from comment mode to hyper-rant mode and, since I don’t believe in trespassing onto someone else’s cyber-property in order to vandalize it with my own rant, unless invited, I’ll let my adrenaline flow out here instead. Prepare yourself for the following rant by reading Vladimir’s post first.

Is the American University Foreign Policy Association and the United Nations Association- National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) Young Professionals for International Cooperation–Middle East Committee, only now finding out about The Good Kurd/Bad Kurd Dichotomy? Were they operating from a position of total ignorance before or did they simpy accept, without question, the moral relativity of Kurds vis-a-vis their usefulness to American foreign policy? I can scarcely believe I am reading this.

The U.S. reasoned that Ankara was doing what it had to do, and the fact that Turkey was using American-supplied arms to do so was not seen as a problem.

Please, spare me the vast understatement! Not only was the use of American-supplied arms not seen as a problem, on the contrary, it was seen as a huge benefit to the American economy. The US has been more than happy to keep the blood-money flowing during this perverse little exercise in free-market capitalism. Now that Turkey has toned down it’s gargantuan appetite for American-made toys, we see the heads of the FBI, CIA and American-Turkish Council (ATC), and their entire entourages, running to Ankara in a series of visits that must have had the local hoteliers falling all over themselves to accomodate the guests of the Turkish state in the manner to which they have become accustomed. Certainly it is not the same manner to which the Kurds under Turkish-occupation are accustomed.

The membership list of the ATC reads like a Who’s Who of corporate America, with the defense industry prominently represented: Bechtel, Boeing, General Atomics, General Dynamics, GE, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Textron, United Defense and United Technologies/Sikorsky. Those are the corporations that have filled their coffers by soaking Kurdistan with Kurdish blood. Other corporate members include: Archer Daniels MIdland, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Frito Lay, Hyatt, Pepsi, Pfizer and Shell.

Does anyone have any idea of what the CEOs of some of defense industry corporations earn? Take a look at an article from CorpWatch, which shows that in the US, The Biggest Bucks on the Planet Go to Defense Industry CEOs. It might be surprising to see many of the corporations that made the membership list of the ATC also made the list of examples in that article. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t so surprising, but it will give us an idea of just how valuable a commodity Kurdish blood is.

The ATC has non-corporate sponsors as well, including: the American Enterprise Institute, JINSA, the Brookings Institution, the Eisenhower Institute, the Nixon Center. Interestingly enough, the America-Georgia Business Development Council and the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, among others, are members too. Can anyone say “Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline?”

What was at the heart of all these top-level meetings that were the source of a feeding frenzy in the Turkish media? Anyone reading the news reports, especially from a Turkish perspective, noticed that the heart of the matter was all those millions of Bad Kurds, epitomized by three little letters–PKK. Is it any coincidence that a couple of weeks before, Turkey publicly made itself look like the totalitarian state it truly is by attempting to bully Denmark over Roj TV, and that it got an even bigger bully, the US, to help it in its efforts to kill the right of free expression? Or that it compounded its image abroad as an enemy of free expression by the Orhan Pamuk fiasco? Turkey also endured the embarrassment of the Şemzîn (Şemdinli) bombing, in which incompetent Turkish intelligence types were once again caught sowing terror in North Kurdistan, which blame they subsequently hoped to pin on all those Bad Kurds, especially PKK. But, horror of horrors! All those Bad Kurds protested and got the attention of the EU.

Oops!

We can bet that “Turkish human rights abuses such as scorched-earth policies, torture and forced migration,” were never a subject for discussion with the American intelligence chiefs, even though it was those very same policies that created PKK, and Bad Kurds in general, in the first place. After all, to admit that Turkey did, in fact, engage in scorched-earth policies against the Kurdish people might be a bit too uncomfortable for the Americans, who have been enjoying a certain financial benefit from this entire program. Instead, Turkey played itself up, once again, as the eternal and innocent victim of Bad Kurds, whining to the Americans about how the War On Terror wasn’t really The War On Terror® unless the source of all terror, the PKK, became America’s main target.

For their part, the Americans had bigger fish to fry, namely Iran and, by extension, Syria. Speculation is that they want Turkey’s help when it comes time for a military strike against Iran. Whoa! Déjà vu! When was the last time the US expected Turkish help for a military operation? Hehehe, you know what they say about one being born every minute. I mean, after the huge betrayal of one NATO ally by another in 2003, asking Turkey for help in another military operation has got to be one of the greatest acts of desperation in modern times. But, hey, maybe Brent Scowcroft and corporate America’s heavyweights in the ATC can pull it off this time.

The big question is, which label will the Rojavayî and Rojhelatî be wearing in 2006? How will they serve US interests? Will these forgotten Kurds suddenly become worthy of moral relevance? Will they become Good Kurds or Bad Kurds? One thing is certain, it looks like the Bakurî will continue to sport their own label, made to fit in Ankara and Washington. Their blood will continue to grease the wheels of the Turkish Denial Machine.

Asked about the recent decline in participation within the Kurdish movement, Xulam speculated that one reason might be Turkey’s unwillingness to negotiate. “Turkey to this day hasn’t really taken the Kurds seriously,” he said.

I understand what Kani is saying here, about Turkey not taking Kurds seriously, but I think the wording is imprecise. Turkey has taken the Kurds seriously because Turkey has an interest in maintaining instability in “The Southeast.” It is this instability which provides the needed cover for the Turkish government’s lucrative drug-running and weapons-smuggling. It also allows Turkey to concentrate economic investment and development in the Turkish part of Turkey while leaving the Kurdish part open for resource exploitation. Instability in the Kurdish region also provides a convenient place for the Turkish military to hone its skills on an unarmed population that is forgotten and ignored by the rest of the world.

When it comes to negotiating with Kurds to achieve a peaceful settlement of the situation, that’s when Turkey ignores Kurds.

The racist Turkish constitution doesn’t need to be changed; it needs to be thrown on the fire and a totally new one rewritten, one that incorporates all citizens of Turkey regardless of race, creed, color, gender or ethnicity. After that happens, the educational system will have a new mandate, one stripped of the Kemalist ideology that has reinforced institutionalized racism since the founding of the republic. Finally, to make sure that everyone gets the message, a truth and justice commission must be established to document and exorcise the horrors of the past, establishing something on the order of Kanan Makiya’s Documentation Project at The Iraq Memory Foundation. A possible framework for documentation could be borrowed from work done by the Kurdish Human Rights Project. Let’s learn from the Armenian example and not wait for a century after the fact before everything is documented. All of it needs to come out into the open, everything, on both sides–including PKK, because as much as the Turkish state has obfuscated its own part in this ugly little drama, so it has also vilified the PKK’s part.

Speaking on the American role in the conflict, Xulam noted that “there is a big gap between the expressed ideals of America, and the actual ideals of American foreign policy.”

Uh, yeah, the “big gap” would more accurately be described as a chasm, into which tens of thousands of people–or millions of people, if we count all the forcibly displaced–have been lost. The problem is that Americans don’t care about their own foreign policy unless it affects them personally, as many are now affected by Iraq. Yes, the foreign policy of the US is the foreign policy of the American people–government of the people, by the people and for the people–and they must choose to educate themselves about their own foreign policy and its effect on the world, to include the influence of the corporate world on that policy. There is no better place to begin that education than here in this exquisite place of free expression known as the Internet and Kurdish bloggers are here to help with that education.

So, what are you waiting for, America? You just received your invitation.

Thanks, Vladimir. I feel much better now. Happy New Year.

RESISTANCE IS LIFE

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2005 by Mizgîn
“All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible; it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement; it strengthens the power of resistance.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the absence of any efforts by the civilized world to force the Teheran regime to behave by civilized standards, Kurdish political prisoners are taking human rights matters into their own hands:

IRAN: KURDISH PRISONERS REVOLT OVER INMATE HANGINGS

Tehran, 30 Dec. (AKI) – Amid rising tension in Iranian Kurdistan, prisoners in Urumieh prison in western Iran are rioting over the imminent hanging of one of their fellow detainees – a Kurd named Massoud Shokkehi – and the hanging in recent days of another Kurd being held in Sagghez prison, also in Iranian Kurdistan. A total 51 Kurdish militants have been summoned to appear before the Revolutionary court in Sanandaj, accused of sedition. They face the death penalty if convicted.

On Thursday, violent protests broke out when police officers came to take Shokkehi away for execution, together with another Kurdish prisoner, Salah Mohammadi Guylani, being held in another prison. Shokkehi had been in Urumieh for nine years.

A young Iranian Kurd was hanged in Sagghez on Wednesday. Farhad Salehpour, 19, was arrested some 12 months ago and sentenced to death for killing a Islamist militiaman. A member of a separatist Kurdish group, Salepour spent eleven months in Sagghez on death row before being executed. Also on Wednesday, four more Kurds who allegedly took part in unrest earlier this year were re-arrested. They had been released conditionally earlier this month.

There have been violent protests in many cities in Iranian Kurdistan in recent months, and the situation remains tense.

While the rest of the world is still trying to come to grips with the fact that the South Kurdistanis are preparing to defend themselves against any meltdown in Iraq, this news from East Kurdistan is ignored. I wonder why? You would think that since there has been so much chatter in recent days about possible US plans for a military strike against Iran, the propaganda machine would snatch this up right away.

On the other hand, maybe it’s a good thing that nobody notices, because, as bad as things are for East Kurdistan, the good news is that the people are engaged in resistance against the regime and they are getting some material support from South Kurdistan. However, the biggest commodity exported across the border is hope.

The recent round of protests in East Kurdistan began in the summer, with the regime’s murder of a young Kurd activist. A decent report on the general situation in East Kurdistan, from National Public Radio can be heard here. Another interesting backgrounder from August, 2005, courtesy of Caucaz, provides more detail on the necessity of smuggling to keep the Eastern Kurds alive.

Many people will say that if only the Kurds would have settled down and accepted the status quo which was imposed on the region by outsiders after the end of WW1, everything would be fine. The enemies of Kurdistan love to speak about their brotherhood with Kurds, but what definition of brotherhood consists of the repression of one brother by the other? If any of these brotherly regimes had ever allowed Kurds equal rights in everything, in other words, if the status quo had ever been just, there would have been no need for Kurdish resistance.

The Eastern Kurds suffered three major blows to their political aspirations in the 20th century. The first was the fall of the Mahabad Republic and the execution of Qazi Mohammed. The second was the murder of Dr. Ebdulrehman Qasimlo in Vienna by the Regime of the Mullahs, and the third was the murder of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi in Berlin by Ahmedinejad, the current president of the same regime. Collectively, these three murders, over time, slammed the brakes on the Kurdish movement in the East and almost ended it. Almost, until something unimaginable happened–the fall of Saddam.

It appears that the Eastern Kurds are reviving politically, thanks to the events across the border in South Kurdistan. PJAK and PDKI were active during the summer protests and I have seen recent news reports indicating that KOMALA may also be returning to battle. With all this resurgence of political (and armed) activity in Eastern Kurdistan, why do certain elements in the American administration prefer to give their attention to Mujahedin-e Khalq, an organization that targeted and murdered American citizens in Iran in the 1970s and supported the US Embassy takeover in Teheran in 1979? If the US is looking for an opportunity to strike Iran, they could find a certain ally in East Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, back in the Urmîye prison, Kurdish prisoners continue the resistance. They don’t have much to lose and it’s always better to die fighting. At least, that way, you can make sure to take as many of the enemy with you as you can.

I, for one, am hoping they do.

PROPAGANDA: LESSON 1

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2005 by Mizgîn

“The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.” ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg, German physicist.

I have noticed something today that annoys me. Really annoys me. Check out the titles on these articles:

A. Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia

B. Kurds plotting to break away

C. Kurds plan to invade South

These are all the same articles, except Article B is missing the last few paragraphs. Otherwise, they are the same. Same author, same news service, same story. What’s the problem?

First of all the titles. Title A is somewhat neutral. Title B and C, on the other hand, are virtual spin machines, set into motion by the keywords, “plotting” and “invade,” which are not neutral by any stretch of the imagination.

Let’s look at the first couple of paragraphs:

Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq.

They are laying the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.

Let’s consider some keywords here. In the first line, we have “inserted.” What does that mean? What does it sound like it means? It sounds like the treacherous Kurdish leadership is up to no good, slipping all those well-trained and experienced Kurdish fighters into the Iraqi army. Let’s forget about the fact that the US has depended on Kurdish military help since before Day 1 of their excellent adventures in Iraq, to include the build-up of a reliable Iraqi army.

Let’s also forget about the fact that one of the first US commanders in Mûsil, General Petraeus, arrogantly disregarded the advice of Babekir Zebarî and other leading veteran pêşmerge about the need to completely cleanse the area of the Ba’ath. Let’s forget about the fact that this arrogant disregard led to the establishment of the Ba’athi/foreign fighter network that began relentlessly to murder Kurds, Christians and anyone else who got in their way. Of course, this eventually led to bigger problems after Fallujah was cleansed last November, and the Ba’athi/foreign fighters ran to Mûsil.

I certainly don’t believe that Petraeus was acting on his own. He had to engage in arrogant disregard for experienced Kurdish advice on the orders of whomever it is that creates foreign policy based on US interests. The only question is one of whether the creator of this policy was the Pentagon or the State Department. My money is on the State Department because there isn’t a bigger pack of Kurd-hating paranoiacs outside of Ankara. Okay, what does my use of the word “pack” mean? Trust me, it isn’t neutral.

My point is that the use of the word “insert,” is not correct and it leads one to believe that Kurds “infiltrated” the Iraqi army for nefarious purposes. This simply isn’t true. The Kurds have cooperated with US forces from before the beginning and my use of Mûsil is just one example of this cooperation.

Second keyword is “swarm!” What swarms? Killer bees, locusts, day-after-Christmas shoppers. . . none of which are positive things. I doubt that pêşmerge are going to “swarm” into Kerkuk. Most likely, they will move in some sort of military manner, especially if they have to go in shooting.

Propaganda is very simple. All that you have to do is set the spin in the title and in the first couple of paragraphs. Then it will continue through the entire article because the spin, the feel, the tone of the article is set. In our present case, we now have something sounding like this in our reader’s mind:

After treacherously inserting themselves as a fifth column within the Iraqi army, Kurds are continuing with their nefarious plans to swarm like locusts to the south and invade Kerkuk!

Are you kidding me?! Whose payroll is the author on? Ankara’s? The Arab League’s? Al-Qaedas? The US State Department’s? Or what about the editors who wrote the creative and inflammatory titles?

Something else that gets a spin is the term “militia.” Not all militias are created equal and, according to the new Iraqi constitution, not all militias are illegal or in any way negative, but are sanctioned by Iraqi law.

This article, under various titles, is being carried by hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs today. Not everyone is commenting on it, but they are carrying it, so it is somehow meaningful to them. The negative spin, from a Kurdish viewpoint, makes me wonder what kind of meaning it holds for so many people.

Do people realize that Kurds of South Kurdistan have been fighting against various Baghdad regimes since 1961? What do all these people think Kurds were fighting for? US interests? A unified Iraq? Does the US seriously expect that Kurds should simply lay down and become victims again, this time when Iraq finally, fatally cracks, and “swarms” of Arabs move north once again? Is this is the same type of mindset that opposes Kurdish use of armed resistance for any reason, usually with an argument designed to appeal to reason and level-headedness? Tell it to Helebce.

Independence is the dream. We all know there are still problems to be worked out in South Kurdistan–corruption in government, lack of infrastructure, violations of the right to free expression, as examples–but Kurds are already voicing their opinions on these topics and these things will change. Problems don’t mean the dream is dead. On the contrary, the recognition of these things as problems proves that the dream is very much alive. Democracy isn’t going to be easy but at least this democracy will be Kurdish.

To paraphrase a friend of mine: “Let the shit be our shit for a change, and not someone else’s.”

PREDICTIONS

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27, 2005 by Mizgîn

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” ~ Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965.

It looks like the Democratic Society Party (DTP) is maneuvering itself into position for the next elections, and they aren’t planning to team up with anyone else either, in this article from The New Anatolian. I guess they learned from their predecessor’s failure in the last elections: it does not pay to align with a Turkish party.

After several days of news about the tug-of-war between government and TUSIAD over the 10% threshold, nothing has changed. AKP and CHP continue to defend the threshold because it’s what gave them so many seats. It also happens to lock out Kurdish candidates. Eventually, however, the 10% will have to be lowered to make the EU happy.

The biggest joke about maintaining the 10% threshold is the one about stability. The threshold is supposed to maintain stability, but what kind of stability exists in Turkey anyway, especially in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan? That’s like the big joke about maintaining the status quo in the Middle East for the sake of regional stability. Of course, you have to have a sense of black humor to be able to laugh at these kinds of jokes.

As usual, Erdogan plays the politician and offers some other kinds of readjustments in order to give the impression that he is concerned about the “fairness” of the 10% and he mumbles something about rearranging the seats or whatever in order to make things more “fair.”

Baykal of CHP, on the other hand, comes right out and says why CHP is opposed to lowering the threshold, without going into a lecture on new math or funny statistics. Simply put, CHP wants the threshold maintained in order to keep DTP out of parliament. CHP doesn’t like “ethnic” types (meaning, Kurds) in parliament. After all, the threshold is meant to maintain the “fairness” of the electoral system and keep it “on a national basis” (meaning, purely Turkish). “Ethnicity” can’t be involved in something like that. It doesn’t matter that at least 20% of your population is not represented in parliament.

Ah, but I forget myself. . . that 20% doesn’t officially exist except in theoretical discussions about identity and sub-identity.

It doesn’t matter that non-Kurdish parties in Turkey have never done anything for Kurds, except bring misery, or that they promise to take care of Kurdish problems after they take care of the really important Turkish problems (this should sound familiar to some people). What matters is that we keep this “fair” and “on a national basis.”

Since there are only a few days left in 2005, everyone is peering into crystal balls and making predictions for the new year. I came across an interesting one. The preview of coming attractions reads: Kurdish Threat to Stability in Turkey: Prospects 2006 :

Decisions taken in 2005 will dominate domestic developments in 2006 in two key domains: The decision of the EU to start negotiations on Turkey’s accession will affect the choice of measures which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take to deal with the mounting problems of Kurdish nationalism and ethno-terrorism. [. . . ]

The growth of Kurdish nationalism and ethnic terrorism will constitute the main threat to stability. [. . . .]

Although Erdogan renewed his promise of a democratic solution to the Kurdish question when he visited Hakkari after the disturbances, he will find it difficult to maintain law and order while simultaneously extending civil liberties (and eliminating rogue elements in the security forces).

I guess that’s why Ankara decided to send all those cameras to the far “Southeast,” in order to extend all those civil liberties.

But what is interesting about these predictions, and what links this second article to the one from The New Anatolian, are its remarks about DTP:

The revival of terrorist activity by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), operating from its main base in northern Iraq, presents a major challenge to the government . It believes (as do most Turks) that the newly-formed Democratic Society Party (DTP), like its predecessor the Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP), will act as a front organisation for the PKK.

Is DTP being set up to be banned, as DEHAP was before it, and HADEP was before it, and all other Kurdish parties have been? My crystal ball tells me that “ethnicity” will become the new code word for “Kurdish,” in 2006, in order to deflect EU criticism of Turkey’s Kurdish policy. I guess the 10% threshold is simply a precaution, in case the official wheels of inexorable Turkish justice don’t grind fast enough to shut down certain “ethnic” parties before the elections.

Let’s be brutally honest about this whole PKK thing. Everyone who now labels PKK as a “terrorist” organization, were the same people who committed atrocities against Kurds, set the policies into place, or ignored what was happening. They looked the other way, even as they sold the Ankara regime the very weapons systems used against Kurdish civilians. They said nothing, even as millions of Kurds were driven out of thousands of destroyed villages. They closed their eyes, even as the Turkish state attempted to wipe the Kurdish people off the face of the earth.

So, honestly, who are the real terrorists?

SUSPICIONS AND SPECULATIONS

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2005 by Mizgîn

“What experience and history teach is this — that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.” ~ George Wilhelm Hegel.

In my 14 December post, I discussed my suspicions that the US and Turkey were repairing their relationship after the visits of the CIA and FBI chiefs, as well as a coincidental visit to Turkey by Brent Scowcroft, currently the chairman of the board of directors for the American-Turkish Council, but formerly a US military general and two-time presidential national security advisor. Today, in a commentary piece on TDN, the same suspicions are voiced by Yuksel Soylemez:

Surely there was intelligence cooperation between the related agencies of Turkey and the United States, until relations soured with the infamous Mar. 1, 2003 motion of Parliament refusing, unwisely, the United States entry into northern Iraq through Turkey. Personal contacts in Ankara at these highest levels, professionally and politically, clearly indicate that the United States is now proposing a welcome restart of Turkey-U.S. intelligence cooperation, with urgency.

This may be the beginning of a new era of intelligence sharing between Turkey and the United States. This is absolutely well and fine, better late than never, back to the statuco ante. Highly important intelligence sharing is a priority for both Turkey and the United States against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), international terrorism in general and against al-Qaeda in particular.

[. . . ]

After the departure of the two high-ranking officials from Ankara, with little photo opportunity to the disappointment of the media, brand new U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Ross L. Wilson, a career diplomat with Baku experience to his credit, said by way of an embassy press conference: My mission is to reconstruct U.S.-Turkey relations and enlarge the scope of bilateral relations and cooperation. We intend to see the results of our efforts in 2006. Our first priority is Iraq. An important event was the Iraqi elections that are now already behind us. Turkey’s help in Iraq is important, as it was important before. To maintain the unity of Iraq and to continue to fight against such groups like the terrorist Zarqawi gang, Turkey’s cooperation has great importance, to paraphrase the context.

The second priority of the United States is terrorism. In our common fight against terrorism, more specifically PKK terrorism against Turkey, we must be result-oriented in this regard and we are conscious of this. We intend not only to cooperate against the PKK and al-Qaeda, but against all other terrorist groups. There will be an increased cooperation between the United States and Turkey, again, to paraphrase the words of Ambassador Wilson.

As usual, no mention is made of Turkish state terror perpetrated against Kurds, particularly the recent bombing in Şemzîn, although there is a reference to “shocking media reports of shady landings in Turkey of so-called CIA planes used for purported interrogations fo al-Qaeda suspects. . . ” I don’t understand how the media reports could be characterized as “shocking,” or the landings of CIA planes as “shady,” by someone who supports Turkey’s coooperation with the US, to include the sharing of intelligence “against al-Qaeda in particular.”

There is speculation here that the visits of the CIA and FBI heads included a discussion of the offer of an amnesty to PKK members. A reference is also made to Masûd Barzanî’s comments that a total amnesty to PKK is the only way to solve the issue. Talabanî had recently called for amnesty as well. In late 2003, Turkey offered a partial amnesty to PKK, but since the conditions of the amnesty excluded political leaders and military commanders, it was unacceptable and was virtually ignored by PKK. The remarks of Abdullah Gul at the time, to the effect that the partial amnesty had PKK in a “panic,” look ridiculous in hindsight, especially since the 5-year unilateral ceasefire initiated by PKK came to an end in 2004.

Another question raised by Soylemez’s speculations is that of the reception of the idea of TSK deployment to Iraq after the US leaves:

Who should fill in the U.S. military gap in the near future as a peace-builder in order to help avoid a full scale Iraqi civil war? The Iraqi Kurds two years ago were adamantly against a Turkish military presence in northern Iraq. In view of the approaching military vacuum, will the Iraqi Kurds think twice about a plausible U.S. idea to the contrary, to prevent the bleak specter of a full scale civil war, when the TSK could play a counterbalancing but difficult role? Such a scenario suggested by some media strategists may look like pure fiction to some. It may sound too hypothetical or too far-fetched for others. But is it?

In 2003, there was an overwhelmingly negative response to the possible deployment of TSK in South Kurdistan/Iraq, from Southern Kurds as well as Kurds in diaspora, but the question of the receptivity of the Southern Kurds and diaspora Kurds to a new proposal of this scenario is something to watch for. Turkey may certainly be willing to appear to commit TSK to southern deployment under the pretext of supporting the greater war on terrorism, but Turkey may well be far more interested in the black gold of Mûsil and Kerkuk, as well as hunting down PKK gerîlas in the Qandîl area, than in assisting the US in its greater regional interests. There is still a TSK presence in South Kurdistan, a rotten leftover from the days when Turkey was a cooperative partner with Saddam Hussein. Given the Ankara regime’s overwhelming interest in Mûsil and Kerkuk, and TSKs continuing presence in the South, it may well become impossible to remove them if they are successfully recruited to fill the vacuum.

Nothing is too far-fetched or hypothetical for the Middle East because, in that part of the world, truth is always stranger than fiction.

GREAT NEWS: Nadire Mater’s excellent book, in which she provided a platform for Turkish soldiers to speak in their own words on their experiences of the TSK’s war in Kurdistan, is now available in an English translation from both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Professor Michael Gunter wrote a review of the Turkish language version of the book. Mehmed’s Book: Soldiers Who Have Fought in the Southeast Speak Out, was banned in Turkey when it first appeared and Ms. Mater was charged with “humiliating the military and the state.” She and her editor were later acquited of the charge. She is now the project advisor for Bianet.com, a site dedicated to media freedom in Turkey. The English title of the book is Voices from the Front: Turkish Soldiers on the War with the Kurdish Guerrillas and I highly recommend it.

ŞEMZÎN BOMBING SOLVED

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2005 by Mizgîn

“But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” ~ The US Declaration of Independence.

The Ankara regime has determined the guilty parties in the Şemzîn bombing, as reported by Zaman:

Surveillance Cameras to Monitor SE Turkey
By Fatih Atik
Published: Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Interior Ministry and Security General Directorate tightened up the measures against security concerns in Southeastern Anatolia after the events in Semdinli and Yuksekova towns of Hakkari.

A camera system will be set up in Sirnak and Hakkari to prevent provocations and activities of Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). A similar system, which is applied with great success in Istanbul and Ankara, will be established in the city and town centers of Hakkari and Sirnak. Five cameras will be placed in Sirnak city center, and seven in Hakkari after feasibility studies are completed.

The camera- control system, which is applied successfully in New York and London, became operant in Istanbul just recently.

The possibility of provocation was discussed in the Semdinli case, where the committers of the bombing are unknown. As the statements of the noncommissioned officers and the statements of the eyewitnesses contradict, Security teams took action.

Sirnak Police Department offered setting up a camera system in the city to provide efficient information flow and to make it easier to provide security in the city.

The feasibility studies were launched after the Sirnak Police Department’s offer. The companies which established the surveillance system in Istanbul went to Sirnak and its vicinities to conducted estimation studies.

The spots to place the cameras were determined after a thorough technical investigation by the experts. The cameras will be mounted in crowded centers and nearby public buildings. Five cameras will be placed in the city center of Sirnak, seven cameras to Silopi and five cameras to Cizre in the first step.

Ankara wants us to believe that their own terrorists, who bombed the bookstore in Şemzîn, are unknown to them. In this case, as always, the eyewitnesses, being Kurds, are not reliable in the eyes of the regime. Therefore they are to be ignored and stricter repression should be enforced against them, this time in the form of security cameras. And, lest anyone suffer from ignorance of Newspeak, let’s be perfectly clear that the security provided by these cameras will not benefit the populace that is being spied upon. The cameras, consistent with Kemalism and its glorification of totalitarianism, will serve only to protect the state.

Again, consistent with the Kemalist regime that slaughtered almost 40,000 Kurds in the 1980s and 90s, the blame for another of its crimes is passed off as a “provocation” of PKK.

Does Ankara realize how stupid it looks? After 25 years of military operations and the presence of hundreds of thousands of security forces, it is still too incompetent to bomb a tiny bookstore in a town made miserable and impoverished by its own policies of repression.

As one example, consider the words of Adnan Hatipoglu:

“All the doors have been shut in our face and hopes have been dashed. We are effectively being told: ‘Don‘t trade officially, smuggle instead.‘ [. . . .] Europe is focused on investing in the west but they should do more for this region. People are suffering here. [. . . .] Life in the region has become unbearable. Unemployment has reached 70 percent, livestock farming has been decimated and villages emptied.”

A similar report, from the Financial Times, can be found at KurdishMedia.com.

Instead of transparency, as was promised in the days following the bombing, a heavy curtain falls over the event at Şemzîn. It’s time for another round of mass protests in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

AMERICA, TURKEY, ROJ TV

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2005 by Mizgîn

“But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe…that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market… That at any rate is the theory of our constitution.” ~ Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.

Americans should be concerned about what happens to Roj TV, and lend their support to it, for three reasons: Turkey is not a steady ally of the United States, it is not a secular democracy and it represses the right of free expression, within its borders and without.

Since September 11, 2001, America is no longer an isolated observer of events happening in the Middle East. That tragic day was the beginning of active American participation in changing a status quo that has for too long allowed repressive regimes to crush the populations under their control. The regimes of which I speak have no regard for the human, civil, political and cultural rights of the people they repress. The Kurdish people have suffered and continue to suffer brutal repression under four of these regimes: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

At this point, the Kurds of Iraq have a chance at freedom, thanks to the years of Operation Northern Watch, in which the American people committed themselves to protecting the airspace over South Kurdistan so that a fledgling democracy could establish itself on the ground. Operation Iraqi Freedom brought the final blow to the Iraqi Ba’ath regime, and the result of that overthrow has given Kurds in Iraq the confidence to create for themselves the safest and most energetic part of Iraq. It has been a fitting outcome for the Kurds, especially since they were the second most numerous coalition partners, providing the US with 100,000 combat-experienced pêşmerge on a moment’s notice, after America’s longtime ally, Turkey, failed to permit the deployment of US troops from Turkish territory.

Right now, Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria are looking toward liberated South Kurdistan with hope that this Kurdish exercise in democracy will bring to an end the suffering they have endured since the end of World War I when they were unjustly divided among the regional powers with the blessings of the British and the French governments. During a recent trip back to that part of Kurdistan which has suffered enormously under the Turkish regime, I witnessed this hope personally through those Kurds who were beginning to establish business ties with their kin to the south. I heard it in statements made to me, of how happy friends and strangers were with the new opportunities as a result of the liberation of part of Kurdistan. There were also expressions of hope that America would help them, Kurds in Turkey, to rise from the second-class, or worse, status that they have suffered for so long.

Americans will say to me, “Turkey is a secular democracy and it has been our ally since the Cold War,” but the fact is that Turkey failed to deliver when America needed to deploy its troops into Iraq from the north. Another fact is that Turkey is not a secular democracy.

The present Turkish constitution controls religion which, by default, pushes religion to become a means of political expression. Religious education is controlled by the Turkish state. No members of religious minorities have ever been members of the Turkish parliament, the cabinet or in the officer ranks of the Turkish military. The AKP, which is the current ruling party and is Islamist, has recently begun crackdowns on the sale and consumption of alcohol. The government now promotes the products of Turkish companies that support Islamist causes and reports have suggested that Saudi money is flooding the economy. Anti-Americanism and antisemitism have been on the rise.

As for democracy, this is a fiction, not only for many Turks but particularly for Kurds. Kurds have been engaged in military or political resistance against the Ankara regime since 1925, when the repression began. It didn’t matter if a village stayed out of fighting and remained loyal to Ankara; the Turkish government brought destruction to all of them, simply because they were Kurds. With the military coup of 1980, a new round of armed resistance began. It was the response of a people with no other means of defending themselves against the brutality the Turkish military. This most recent fighting resulted in the ethnic cleansing of between 3 to 4 million Kurds, the destruction of some 4,000 Kurdish villages, disappearances, extrajudicial murders, and the enjoyment of impunity by the state security forces which uses torture against those detained. If not for these atrocities of the Turkish state against the Kurdish people, there would never have been a need for armed struggle. If not for these atrocities, there would have been no PKK.

This reign of terror resulted in the flight of many Kurds from Turkey to other parts of the world. It was in Europe that Kurds who had fled Turkey began to rediscover and preserve the culture that Turkey had sought to destroy, especially the Kurmancî language. It was there that the Kurds began to create their own media without fear of Turkish repression, without worrying that Kurdish journalists, or non-Kurdish journalists, who wrote about Kurdish issues in Turkey, would be disappeared, extrajudicially murdered or imprisoned. It was there that Kurdish-language media offices could function without fear of bombing.

Roj TV has been the best and brightest of these efforts, covering the news of the entire region, and the world, from the Kurdish perspective. Roj TV’s programming is primarily in Kurdish, but includes programming in other languages as well, including Turkish. Almost 30 million Kurds in 77 different countries enjoy news, cultural and educational programming, music videos and movies, primarily in their mother tongue–Kurdish.

While Turkey has promised limited Kurdish-language broadcasting as part of its EU accession efforts, after several years, the promise has proven to be empty words. Roj TV is popular, even in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, because Roj TV has enjoyed the right of free expression from its European base, the Turkish state has been clamoring for its closure by making claims that Roj TV disseminates “terrorist” propaganda. But Roj TV does nothing of the sort, nor do the people who operate Roj TV have ties to terrorist groups of any kind, but they strive to maintain their programming within the boundaries of law as set by Danish broadcasting authorities. These authorities have investigated video footage supplied by the Turkish embassy in Denmark. No incitement to violence or terrorism of any kind was found by Danish authorities.

The Turkish state attempts to silence those outside of its own borders who speak out about such truths as the Armenian genocide and the violence in the Kurdish region, even going so far as to call for prosecution of members of the European Parliament. Orhan Pamuk is not the only writer to find himself facing prosecution under the Turkish Penal Code’s infamous Article 301, which can severely curb freedom of expression depending on the interpretation of individual judges. Fatih Tas, a journalism student at Istanbul University faces imprisonment for his translation of American John Tirman’s book, The Spoils of War, which criticizes Turkey’s violence against its Kurdish population. Orhan Pamuk and Fatih Tas are only two examples of the 50 to 60 journalists and writers who are currently facing prosecution from a government which does not recognize the right of free expression. The Turkish government would like very much that Roj TV become another victim of its intolerance of free expression.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So reads the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This amendment is rightly placed at the head of those ten initial amendments, which are known to Americans as the Bill of Rights. It encompasses the right to free expression–in religion, in speech, in the press, in public assembly as well as in the process of approaching all branches of government for help in solving problems in the interests of the people–and free expression is the very essence of democracy. As the United States endeavors to encourage the spread of democratic values and practice in the Middle East, Turkey continues to threaten the same, especially in its totalitarian-style tactics aimed at silencing Roj TV.

Since the United States is supporting Turkey in its EU accession process, Americans have an interest in lending their support to those who remain on the frontline of the battle for democracy, both in Europe and in the Middle East. Americans ought to insist that Turkey engage in truly democratic practices, especially with regard to free expression, or risk facing a new Europe, one in which free expression is severely diminished and America’s efforts at democratizing the Middle East become nothing more than expensive exercises in hypocrisy.

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