THE INDESTRUCTIBLE PAWN

“I know of no higher fortitude than stubborness in the face of overwhelming odds.”
~ Louis Nizer.

There was an article yesterday on Time Magazine on the Kurdish struggle in Turkey and Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, and this article seems to predict a military response to PKK’s recent statement offering conditions leading to a possible bilateral ceasefire. Nothing new there, now that Buyukanit and Ralston are both on board. The clincher comes in the last paragraph of the article, in which Time spins a spiral staircase out of alleged steps the Ankara regime has taken to improve rights for the Kurdish people.

Fact is that these “steps” are merely cosmetic and that forcible assimilation of the Kurdish people remains the goal of the TC.

Speaking of Ralston, we know that he was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during Operation Northern Watch (ONW), and we know that ONW was the continuation of Operation Provide Comfort (OPC). OPC was an idea devised, in part, by Turgut Ozal in order to encourage the removal of Southern Kurdish refugees back to South Kurdistan in the wake of the failed 1991 Serhildan. Ostensibly, both OPC and ONW were put in place to protect Southern Kurds; in reality, they were instruments to benefit Turkey. Coalition sorties from Incirlik Airbase remained under Turkish control, subject to the whims of the Ankara regime:

The recent history of Incirlik offers a small window on the moral incoherence and dubious alliances that characterize US foreign policy in the region. Since Turkey reviews US access to the base every six months, it has had a powerful lever with which to influence the United States–and in turn, the United States has made costly compromises to preserve its access. “If a Turkish Ayatollah Khomeini came to power tomorrow,” a high-level military official recently commented to me, “the US would still stay on bended knee to avoid losing that base.”

The most scandalous of these compromises involves the US role in northern Iraq. The ostensible humanitarian purpose of the northern no-fly zone is to safeguard 3.3 million Iraqi Kurds. Unfortunately, US concern for the Kurds extends only to those being attacked by our enemy Saddam, not to those being attacked by our ally Turkey. Over the past fourteen years more than 23,000 Kurds fighting for greater autonomy and self-determination in southern Turkey and northern Iraq have died at Turkish hands. When Turkey sends US-made F-16s or thousands of troops to attack the Kurds across the border, as it did last December, Washington looks the other way. It’s an “obscene piece of hypocrisy,” writes John Nichol, the British pilot who was shot down in 1991 and tortured by Iraqi forces. “Turkish authorities ground our aircraft so that their own can attack the very Kurds that [we were] protecting just a few hours before.” One investigation by Air Force Times revealed that the Turks were grounding more than 50 percent of US missions.

By the way, keep reading in that article to get an idea of how Turkey’s so-called reforms are mere cosmetics and “The few improvements Turkey has made do not apply to the southern Kurdish regions, where almost all of the cases of torture occur.” It’s even worse for Kurds today, with the new anti-terror law.

Ralston was among those who, in early 2001, was among those American military officers who began to campaign for an end to ONW, from this Stars and Stripes article:

Media reports last week stated that Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston recommended that the Bush administration end ONW patrols, wary of losses at a time when Iraqi attacks against U.S. and British planes have intensified.

Those reports stated that Ralston, commander in chief of the U.S. European Command, favors responding to specific Iraqi threats in the no-fly zones.

Maj. Ed Loomis, a EUCOM spokesman, declined to comment on the accuracy of those reports.

At the same time, “you hear noises” that Turkey won’t renew ONW, said Michael Gunter, a U.S. expert on the Kurds.

Turkish leaders “flirt” with Saddam, “and certainly have more relations with him than we do,” Gunter said.

Turkey allows U.S. and British planes to fly ONW missions from Incirlik Air Base at a time when Ankara politicians are moving closer to Baghdad, and Turkish officials are complaining that sanctions against Saddam are punishing Turkey’s foundering economy.

But Turkey needs ONW to keep tabs on Kurdish separatists, whom the Turks have fought for 16 years, Gunter said.

For those who can remember, the situation in the 1990’s bears an eerie similarity to the situation today. Consider this, from a UK review of the no-fly zones in March, 2001:

Since 1991, Turkey has continued to invoke a pre-war bilateral agreement with Iraq, which had lapsed at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, allowing Turkish forces to conduct cross-border operations in pursuit of PKK members . Turkey has regularly bombed and shelled border areas, on occasion resorting to large-scale ground offences into northern Iraq, supported by air strikes, to attack PKK bases. These incursions always took place within the northern NFZ, which applies only to Iraqi aircraft.

According to that review, the inconsistency of the US position regarding the Kurdish people–or what most of us would consider extreme hypocrisy–was apparent to British lawmakers who questioned US bombing of Iraqi military targets while turning a blind eye to Turkey’s own military targeting of the Kurdish people, military incursions into South Kurdistan, and Turkey’s refusal to grant any human rights to Kurdish people under its occupation. Neither did the US have any objections to Turkish moves to establish a “security zone” inside South Kurdistan along the border with Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, thus violating Iraqi “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty.”

The inconsistency vanishes when one realizes that the only American policy for the Kurdish people is the “good” Kurd/”bad” Kurd dichotomy. We have yet to see whether the KDP will join again with Turkey in taking up arms against HPG. At this point, however, I believe it is unlikely that KDP will do so, since the majority of HPG combat forces are already in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

It was politics, and not humanitarian concerns for Kurds, that was the impetus behind ONW. Given what we know of Ralston’s ties to the Deep State, how much of his recommendation to end ONW was based on Turkish political considerations and possible advantages and not, as he claimed, based on concerns about American “losses?”

As a political commentary from Russia’s RIA/Novosti opines, the Kurdish people are the “indestructible pawn” on the Middle Eastern chessboard. Kurds will retain that position for the foreseeable future because there is no one ready or willing to genuinely negotiate the political solution that has already been offered, just as there was no one ready or willing to use the previous 5-year unilateral PKK ceasefire to any mutual benefit.

Of course, being the ancient and indestructible pawn on the chessboard is one of the advantages of Kurdistan, since we know that neither the US, nor Turkey, want to do what has to be done in order to win. 40 years in the mountains, on foot, is not cost-efficient for them in any respect. All we have to do is hold on and not swerve in this little game of chicken.

Anybody want to take a ride?

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