CHANGE OF COMMAND AMONG THE COMRADES

“I do not love the bright sword for it’s sharpness, nor the arrow for it’s swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien.

On 15 April Comrade Dr. Bahoz Erdal handed over the command of HPG to Comrade Nurettin Sofi at a ceremony that was attended by KCK Executive Committee member Duran Kalkan and YJA-STAR Headquarters Commander Rengin Botan. Hevallo has posted a video of the change of command and photos of the event can be viewed here: http://www.hpg-online.com/Photo/DEVIR_TESLIM/

A change of command for HPG is mandated to happen every five years according to HPG regulations. New commanders are appointed by HPG’s Military Council during their meetings, also held according to HPG regulations.

Comrade Dr. Bahoz held his military command during a crucial period in Kurdish history. Perhaps one of the most important developments that he oversaw was the change in HPG tactics which were implemented in 2005. Under Comrade Dr. Bahoz’s command, HPG established and expanded its special forces and adopted MOUT-style training. It decentralized command structure which gave more autonomy to HPG team leaders. In turn, this encouraged “individual commander initiative and freedom of operation within the framework set forth by HPG’s mission objectives and rules of engagement. Teams are smaller, lighter, faster moving, work independently, and engage targets of opportunity at will.”

These changes have resulted in fewer casualties for the guerrillas while frustrating the TAK because of its use of older tactics. One indication of the success of these new tactics is that it has forced TSK to create a professional commando brigade to fight HPG, while another contributing factor was the Ankara regime’s own disregard of its own losses. This disregard was highlighted in the Turkish media in 2006 when Katil Erdoğan told the country that “military service is not a place where you just take it easy.”

In July 2006, Comrade Dr. Bahoz signed Geneva Call’s “Deed of Committment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines” on behalf of HPG forces. Geneva Call was represented at the signing by Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey, Pascal Bongard and Anki Sjöberg.

Under Comrade Dr. Bahoz, HPG intensified efforts to bomb gas and oil pipelines that benefit the terror regime in Ankara and its allies. One of the most widely publicized of these attacks occured in August 2006 against a Turkish-Iranian gas pipeline in Ağrı province. Another was the more recent HPG attack against the BTC pipeline in August 2008. At the time Comrade Dr. Bahoz said:

“We think that attacks against economic resources have a deterrence effect in a war that aims to annihilate a people. If the Turkish state insists on waging the war, similar operations [by us] will continue.”

There have been other pipeline attacks as well.

Significant military successes under Comrade Dr. Bahoz’s command included the first Oramar (Bezele) operation in October 2007 which resulted in an enemy body count of 35 and eight TSK troops taken as prisoners of war. The Turkish POWs were treated much better by HPG than by their own chain of command in TSK, who imprisoned them for not having committed suicide rather than falling into the hands of HPG. The prisoners were handed over to representatives of the KRG and DTP parliamentarians on 4 November 2007.

The second Oramar (Bezele) operation took place one year later which precipitated a huge scandal in Turkey that, in turn, caused huge embarrassment for the paşas. Enemy body count for that one? Sixty-two.

There is another significant military operation to remember from the period of Comrade Dr. Bahoz’s command and that was the first ever winter invasion of South Kurdistan by TSK, and it failed miserably for TSK. This was another huge scandal for the paşas and a feeding frenzy for Turkish media, a mixture that prompted then Turkish chief of general staff Büyükanıt to say:

“If they say that the army withdrew early, then let them go there (northern Iraq) and stay for 24 hours,” Buyukanit said, referring to the deep snow and subzero temperatures in the tough mountainous terrain where the troops were fighting.

Of course, spending winters in the mountains is what Comrade Dr.Bahoz and the Kurdish guerrillas have been doing for twenty-five years.

Under Comrade Dr. Bahoz’s command, HPG has also worked to reach out to the wider world through the Internet and conventional media. HPG’s website has expanded and most recently added GerilaTV. HPG has permitted numerous journalists from around the world to travel to Qendil. Ahmet Altan and Yasemin Çongar of Taraf traveled to Qendil during the February 2007 land invasion. Both were struck by the sight of guerrillas, including high-ranking commanders, serving meals. Arwa Damon of CNN traveled to the guerrillas’ camps. British documentary crewshave visited as has the WaPo and Al Jazeera. These efforts have helped to spread knowledge about the Kurdish freedom movement and the Kurdish people.

Now that Comrade Dr. Bahoz has handed over his command, I thank him for his service to the Kurdish nation and wish him continued success in his future responsibilities. He has truly brought great credit to himself, the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), and the Kurdish people.

To Comrade Nurettin Sofi, HPG’s new commander, I extend my best wishes for success.

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