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Turkey’s enmity to Kurdish people hinders NATO’s war against ISIS

By Ayoub Barzani  
Source: kurdistantribune.com

One of the main Turkish phobias that clouds reasonable thinking is the Kurdish issue. The majority of the political parties in Turkey, left, right, secular, religious, nationalist or liberal, are indoctrinated by the outdated and petrified Kemalist ideology, which has no patience for any ethnicity in Turkey. This attitude goes against the Copenhagen criteria and against the conditions set by the European Union for Turkey’s membership of the EU; furthermore it is against basic principles of democracy.

The Kemalist ideology that symbolizes Turkish nationalism rejects a pluralist and democratic definition of nationhood. Many Turkish journalists and writers have openly admitted such a painful reality, which is reflected in the current war against ISIS in Kobani.
The Turkish journalist Dogu Ergil wrote on October 04, 2014 that the Turkish government is worried about the formation of a second autonomous Kurdish political entity in Rojava (1), similar to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in South Kurdistan. He recognizes as well that Turkey failed take serious steps to defend its close Kurdish ally in Iraq when ISIS targeted Arbil after occupation of Mosul.

Then he concludes that “If it hadn’t been for America’s aerial bombardment, maybe ISIS would have been Turkey’s neighbor instead of Iraqi Kurdistan.”
Indeed Mr. Erdogan did not bother to save his obedient ally, the President of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the KRG, when ISIS took over Shingal (Sinjar), which involved massacres and massive displacement of tens of thousands of Christians and Ezidis.

Another Turkish journalist, Gokhan Bacik, acknowledged on September 28, 2014 that combatting “ISIS by People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), etc. – (is) becoming more organized and internationally legitimate.” (2) Such international recognition of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is abhorred by the Turkish authorities.

Kobani’s resistance, which is highly publicized in the world media outlets, represents a legendary resistance against ISIS armed gangs, the city besieged by overwhelming well-armed units of ISIS, while Turkey is blocking the city from the North. The Turkish government is tacitly allied with ISIS to prevent the establishment of a safe and autonomous Kurdish region in Rojava (West Kurdistan); once Turkey achieved this goal, it could take other steps to destroy Kurdish national identity wherever it could prevail in other parts of Kurdistan.

The Turkish paradox hampers the fight against ISIS in the whole Middle East. Narrow and immature Turkish political thinking, which is the product of primitive nationalism, does not differentiate ISIS from the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Meanwhile the majority of the states engaged in the war admit that the real battle waged against ISIS has come from Kurdish People’s Protection Units, who have fought efficiently ISIS gangs in Iraq and Syria. However, there are ample accusations against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Sheikhdoms for financing and arming ISIS army. Simultaneously, Turkey is fighting Kurdish national movement on two fronts, inside and outside Turkey, which will be certainly in the interest of ISIS.

The International Community and the Western member-states of NATO realize the critical and unfair military situation on the ground in Kobani. They are also aware that Kurdish forces, mainly from the YPG, are the backbone of resistance on ground against ISIS. However, it seems that NATO’s military aid to the YPG is being limited so as not to anger Ankara. The lack of moral courage cannot be more visible among member states of NATO.

NATO members are aware of Mr. Erdogan’s objectives behind his conditions for participation against ISIS and his policy of nonintervention against them. Erdogan’s priority is not ISIS; but the crushing of Kurdish forces in Rojava, and the suppression of the Kurdish National movement in North Kurdistan, in Turkey itself.
The Middle East is a place of many paradoxes. Turkey, an important member-state of NATO, is supportive to attempts by ISIS to crush Kurdish people, while other NATO members are timidly bombing ISIS’s positions around Kobani.

With Kurdish disunity, and with its leaders’ endemic corruption in South Kurdistan (Iraq), misleading nationalist rhetoric, lack of understanding of international relations (although after more than 60 years in diplomacy), absence of daring political initiatives, and a lack of long-term unified strategy towards international and regional powers, all this could lead to further social and political deterioration in all parts of Kurdistan.

(1) Kurdish territory which annexed to Syria after First World War.
(2) Gokhan Bacik, todayszaman.com. 28.09.2014

Ayoub Barzani is a Kurdish writer, historian and critic. He is the son of Babo Barzani, Ahmed Barzani‘s nephew and the first-cousin of Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region. He took refuge in Iran after the collapse of the Kurdish movement in 1975. He was arrested and intimidated by the Iranian secret service, the (SAVAK). He left Iran at the end of 1976 and sought asylum in the UK. Ayoub Barzani currently resides in Switzerland, where he is a co-founder of an organisation known as Kurdistan Democratic Alliance. He is very outspoken about human rights breaches and corruption in South Kurdistan and has published three books on the Kurdish Movement.