1060) PKK terrorism under the protection of the global forces

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A closer look reveals how global forces helped support the Kurdistan Workers' Party over the years

Abdullah Öcalan, whom Syria refused to hand over to Turkey, claiming he didn't live there, was deported from the country after the decisive ultimatum of the Turkish Armed Forces. Thus, a phase came to an end in the struggle against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism that had lasted for almost 19 years. While Salman Zirqi, who was put in charge of Öcalan by Al Muhabarat, the Syrian Intelligence Service, helped him out of Syria to new destinations where he would find an equal amount of help and support, the chief terrorist was dreaming of new beginnings.

This was understandable as PKK terrorism had cost Turkey tens of thousands of casualties and billions of dollars. It could easily be said that Syria, which was supported by the Soviet Union in the pre-1990 era; Greece, which is still hallucinating about revenging its defeat in Cyprus in 1974; Iran, which does not want a strong, democratic and secular Turkey in the region; and the post-1990 Armenia and the pre-1990 Bulgaria as well as prominent EU countries have extended their support in varying degrees to the PKK throughout the period in which this ruthless terrorist organization has sought power and recognition. Additionally, the United States, subsequent to the launch of the Combined Task Force -- Poised Hammer, and finally Israel, within its search to somehow make a use for the Kurds following the second Gulf war, have provided some support to the PKK. At this point, it should be emphasized that alongside the United States, Russia, as another global power, has also supported and sheltered PKK terrorism at different times.

Soviet Union as global force and PKK:

The Syrian strategy of systematically supporting the PKK is undoubtedly in accordance with Syria's historical national designs. Within the illusion of a Greater Syria, the acquisition of Hatay has always been a dream. To attain this goal, first Turkey was to be weakened, and to weaken Turkey they would trigger internal disruptions. Therefore, the harsh reality that the PKK terrorists received training in the camps in Syria and Lebanon and were transported from there to the Turkish border in the very vehicles of the Syrian Army and Al Muhabarat should be understood as an extension of this historical strategy of Syria. When Syria, whose military inventory always looks very impressive on paper, was pursuing such a strategy against Turkey, did it rely on its thousands of tanks, artillery and hundreds of warplanes or on the Arab world, which undeniably failed to support the Syrians during their wars against Israel?

For the pre-1990 era the answer to this question should be ?no.? Firstly, it was obvious that the Syrian Army would be no match against the much stronger and very well-disciplined Turkish Army, which was well equipped -- according to NATO standards -- to challenge the Soviet Army. Secondly, considering past events, Syria could not rely on the other Arab states, either. In this case, Syria could have relied only on powers other than the United States and NATO, which were evidently the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries. Syria expected that Turkish interference with Syria would have resulted in the harsh retaliation of the Soviet Union. In other words, the global and military force behind Syria, which was one of the two prominent patrons of the PKK (the other was evidently our neighbor Greece), was the Soviet Union.

The profit to be gained by the Soviet Union from the intensification of PKK terror and even the disintegration of Turkey was not to be underestimated. After all, a NATO member would have disintegrated and thus the Soviet Union would have easily been able to access the Mediterranean, the Middle East and, more importantly, the oil resources in the region. In fact, it should be remembered here that Bulgaria too played a certain role in the enhancement of the PKK's terrorist power. Given that such involvement of Bulgaria in the issue was encouraged by the Soviet Union, the Soviet support provided to the PKK in the pre-1990 era became more visible. It is clear today that the Russian Federation, being the successor of the Soviet Union, has inherited Soviet methods of foreign policy and thus is continuing to handle the PKK similar to how the Soviets handled the group. This time, however, parallels have been drawn between PKK terrorism and the Chechen movement.

Focusing on the post-1990 era and elaborating on how Syria remained in support of the PKK until 1998, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we arrive at a critical point. Syria did not take into account the fact that it was not in a position to compete, militarily, economically or politically, with Turkey, especially having lost the empowering support of the Soviet Union with the collapse of this giant empire. Furthermore, Syrian military assets, which looked impressive on paper, had become outmoded and thrown on the scrap heap over the course of time.

On the matter of the PKK, one can not help but wonder about the answers to the following questions: If Syria was to be pacified easily, why then did Turkey very sadly lose thousands of sons and experience so much distress for years? Was it because of the insensitive and almost anti-national policies of the maladroit governments that ruled Turkey at the time? Were Turkey's passiveness and indecisiveness a result of its miscalculation of the military and political powers backing PKK terrorism? Why did Turkey wait eight years until 1998? Why did not we force Greece, Armenia, the Greek Cypriot administration and Iran, alongside Syria, to answer for their support to the PKK? Was Turkey afraid that these states would form a Holy Alliance and conspire against Turkey? Or was there a concealed truth behind the global actors' support of these states?

What caused our setback then? Was it the U.S. deployment of the ?Combined Task Force -- Poised Hammer? north of the 36th parallel in Iraq that began preparations for a Kurdish establishment in the region? Was it because, in a state of euphoria, we were completely mesmerized by our entry to the customs union? In reality, the situation was no different than the Ottoman signature on the Treaty of Baltalimanı in 1838, which is today accepted as the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire. All these points must be examined historically. The first point to be elaborated upon is that the close relationship between the PKK and the Soviet Union was in the pre-1990, era when Soviet Russia was one of the two global powers. Unfortunately, contemporary Russia continued the same attitude towards the PKK for some time. Some significant proof of this is as follows:

Allegedly, there was a PKK-controlled training camp that was active for many years and which made possible the ideological education of the PKK's mountaineering staff in Yaroslavl, lying 250 kilometers north of Moscow.

Materiel captured during Turkish military operations indicated that some of the weapons, including surface-to-air missiles (SAM), were Russian made.

The Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, once attempted to recognize the PKK, which is something we still remember.

Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, went to Russia twice after leaving Syria, and his efforts to take refuge in Russia are also still in our minds.

The other global force and PKK:
The terrorist actions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) seemed to have been terminated in 1998 by the Turkish military, which had given an ultimatum to Syria after being disappointed with how the politicians were handling the situation, and thus proved that in desperate times, diplomacy could become more influential when enhanced with military power. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the 21st century, the PKK, which aims at once to politicize itself systematically and prepare for asymmetric warfare, has been revived beyond our borders in northern Iraq by other actors. Northern Iraq was placed at the heart of the Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) by the United States in order to accommodate the vast oil resources as well as the important water resources that are being managed by the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP).

Oil and water are abundant in the region, which was implied by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, known for his unorthodox approaches. He had said, “It is important to control oil to control states as water to control people.” Is the fact that the United States put the project at issue into practice in the 1980s, the reason why Turkey was hesitant and idle while it was on the verge of a decisive victory over PKK? Is the existence of the PKK along with the formation of the Kurdish autonomous region, which has evolved into de jure from de facto status, permitted so that they could be used by both the United States and Israel, especially against Arabs but also other states, in the region? After the second Gulf war, EU and U.S.-based aid organizations allocated their resources to Kurds, but not to Arabs and Turkmen. Furthermore, the Turkmen people were, in order to help the peshmerga and change the ethnic demography, deported and massacred by U.S. forces. The ongoing situation in Telafer and the Turkish ruling elite's ignorance of the situation continue to be our source of sorrow.

Invalid excuses of the US:
Today, the upsurge of terrorism is the result of the annulment of terror-prevention acts by the government, in order to appear docile to the EU, thus forcing our security forces to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. As a result, PKK terrorists -- there are around 4,500 in the north of Iraq and 1,500 in other places -- have grown stronger. Also making the group stronger has been the U.S. support of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), who seek an upsurge of terrorism by projecting their organizational power, via politicization, to Turkey. The United States initiated another strategy for Turkey. In addition to supporting “moderate Islam” or “Pro-American Islam” under the framework of GMEI, they support both the PKK and Kurdish groups rather than preventing their development. Turkey should neither endure nor accept this situation. The United States is day-by-day showing its intentions of turning the Middle East into bloodbath under the GMEI and the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENAI), and also to help -- as well as use -- Israel. Israel had said, “Turkey's Southeast is in our interest,” and Turkey should not forget the fact that the Kurds are their only ally in the region.

The administration in Turkey acts in parallel with the United States, which promotes “moderate Islam,” and yet the artificial zigzags and inexperienced moves, which would in fact be appreciated by the EU, of trimming antiterrorism laws for the sake of -- without a doubt -- insincerely pleasing the EU and drafting legislation like the Local Administrations Bill and the Public Administration Reform, which make southeastern Anatolian local administrations more powerful both financially and functionally, continue to weaken the government's central power. In this respect, EU and U.S. actions in southeast Anatolia and their close relations with local administrators in this region, like for example in Diyarbakir, should be taken seriously and opposed. The EU and United States are executing tricks that are against Turkey and not compatible with the rationale of alliance and that are sometimes shaped by creating so-called sub-identities, sometimes with the help of feudal ideas and sometimes by exploiting religious sects, religious orders and clans. The intentions are to, first, create controllable instability and, second, reshape the region on the basis of re-shaping the Middle East, which considerably “diminishes” Turkey, as recently aired in the media.

At this point, the most important thing that bothers us is the possibility of the creation of a Kurdish state, which would be under the supervision and protection of the United States and Israel, out of Turkish, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi territory. Unfortunately, the American-controlled NATO's inconclusiveness in adding the PKK into its terrorist organizations list is the most open way to show its member, and once its outpost, Turkey, that NATO's understanding of alliance is the “always take, not give” kind of alliance. At this point, the biggest sin is being committed by the United States.

It seems that the sole superpower's plans and intentions are to use the PKK as a military backup for the Kurds. If the United States is sincere about the war against terrorism, which was used as an excuse to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq, it would not permit the despicable bloody terrorist organization PKK to be active in Iraq. Although the United States claims otherwise, it has the power to do so. If it has really no power to do so, then the United States should permit Turkey to use force. However, these days, the Turkish public backlash against the United States and its puppet regime in northern Iraq seem to be causing another strategy. We think that this so-called new and counter PKK strategy that the United States has recently adopted is designed to lull Turkey with false hopes and buy some time and is nothing more than a hollow promise. It is clear that recently expressed “measures” by the Kurdish president and foreign affairs minister of Iraq are a tactical move in order to buy time, to impress the Turkish public by shutting down some PKK offices, declaring that they are unlawful and arresting some insignificant terrorists. Hence it is a hollow move in respect to curbing the abilities of the PKK.

Turkey's strategy:
Turkey should not be fooled by this trick. We cannot resist PKK terror, which thousands of young compatriots sacrificed their lives by fighting, if we make the same mistakes we made in the past by being passive and waiting for others to help. The issue of resistance has brought us to a point where struggle is inevitable. Our struggle must be for the integrity and independence of our country, the welfare of the nation and the continuity of our democracy. Waiting for the intercession and help of others should be out of the question because time is on the side of those who would like to harm our country.

Submitting the Turkish nation's welfare to the hands of foreigner intercession would ruin our country's future. Turkey is a mighty country. This might is our ancestors' legacy and was earned with blood. Also the geographical greatness is important for the Turkish nation's independence and territorial integrity. Giving up one inch of land is unthinkable. Giving up our land would invite other invasions. The result would be the realization of a dream the West has been waiting to fulfill since Lausanne; the expulsion of Turks from Anatolia.

Although the eminent Ataturk had said, “Peace at home, peace in the world,” when necessary, he put on his uniform as he did to reunite with Hatay. He made a request from us to reunite with former territories of our homeland like Kirkuk, Mosul, Cyprus and Salonika. If Ataturk had followed an ambiguous foreign policy similar to our policy today, we would have never had our contemporary national territories. Turkish history, which is full of struggles, is carried on proudly in sovereignty, independence and freedom. Our aim should be the realization of these three principles. If our adversaries pursue a struggle against us in our land, the best strategy that we can pursue is to protect the Turkish ideal by expelling them from our territories. Let's not forget: “Ideals are offensive. Those who remain defensive are ready to give up some of it.”

September 30, 2006

* Ali Külebi is acting president of TUSAM (National Security Strategies Research Center). He can be contacted at akulebi@tusam.net


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