Since 2015, the Turkish states has been waging a war against left wing Kurdish organisation, The PKK. It is estimated that nearly two hundred civilians have been killed In Turkish offensives against Kurdish Communities. This has occurred despite the fact that the PKK has been particularly effective in the fight against ISIS. Earlier this month, the situation erupted in the academic community. Leading academics, including US intellectual and anti-war activist Noam Chomsky, condemned The Turkish states war against the PKK, questioning its commitment to defeating ISIS, and calling for an end to the violence against The Kurds.
Turkeys war against the Kurds
Since The Turkish regime broke off its peace negotiations with the PKK, in mid-2015, it has become clear that Turkey has absolutely no interest, in defeating Wahhabi terrorist groups Like ISIS. Since taking power in 2002, the ruling AKP, have ruled over Turkey using an aggressive blend of free market capitalism, Islamism and nationalism. Initially, the Turkish government opposed the idea of a Saudi and the Western funded Wahhabi groups, leading the revolution against Assad in Syria, instead favouring the instillation a Damascus government, modelled on their values. However, When the Rojava revolution, saw the Kurds create a democratic and Socialist society in the Kurdish held regions of Syria, the AKP decided they would much prefer to have Wahhabi extremists on its border then left wing Kurds. As a result, The Turkish state decided to blockade Kurdish communities, showing little respect for peace negotiations, and giving some the impression that Turkey support ISIS. Therefore, when ISIS carried out an assault on the border town of Kobani in 2014, The Turkish military were reluctant to do anything but sit and watch from the other side of the national boundary, while dozens of protestors were killed by police.
When Turkey finally promised the West it would fight against ISIS, the first thing it did was to launch airstrikes against Kurdish positions in northern Iraq, showing complete disregard for international law. The forces of the PKK who had been the most effective forces in the battle against ISIS, were now being massacred by the same people they had long desired a peace process with. While all this was going on Turkish media, repeatedly referred to the Kurds as terrorists who only seek to interfere in the ‘peace processes’. Ultimately, the peace process between the Kurds and the AKP did not collapse, as the mainstream media might have you believe, but was broken off due to a toxic fascist ideology and lust for power. It is the Turkish state that have been responsible for civil war breaking out in Turkey, and therefore they are the only ones that can end it.
The Peace letter and the response
In response to the Turkish states war against the Kurds, they received a letter, calling on the AKP to end its ‘deliberate and planned massacre against Kurdish communities’ and condemning the actions as ‘a violation of international law’. Furthermore, it also called for the region to be open to international observers, so that they could report on human rights violations. Most importantly, the letter called for peace negations with the PKK to resume, demanding an end to ‘violence perpetrated by the state’ – the declaration had been signed by 1,128 different academics, one of whom was renowned foreign policy expert Noam Chomsky. The declaration has also been supported by over 100 journalists.
So how did the Turkish state respond to this call for peace? Well, President of Turkey, Erdogan, responded by saying that.
‘I give you the name of an American terrorist…Chomsky, the criminal’
While the Turkish President was spending ten times as long speaking about these Academics, as he did about the Turkish bombing, the Turkish Prime Minister argued that he must defend democracy by using ‘democratic methods’. This is highly ironic, considering that, only a few years prior to this, his own government rejected democratic peace negotiations with the PKK, in favour of declaring war on them, while completely ignoring the threat posed by ISIS. In light of this, the Turkish government was suspected of orchestrating a counter declaration, in support of their war on the Kurds. As of this article being written, Turkish police have detained 27 of the academics over alleged ‘terror propaganda’.
Despite this, the Turkish government were not the only ones opposing the Peace letter. Within days of the letter being released, far right groups began threatening academics, and hacking the declarations website while. Furthermore, pictures have been circulated of the academics who signed the declaration, meaning that some of them have gone into hiding.
Chomsky’s Response and what this means for the Middle East
When asked by the Guardian about Erdogan’s comments, Chomsky responded by saying:
‘Turkey blamed Isis [for the attack on Istanbul], which Erdogan has been aiding in many ways, while also supporting the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different. He then launched a tirade against those who condemn his crimes against Kurds – who happen to be the main ground force opposing Isis in both Syria and Iraq. Is there any need for further comment?’
To put this into perspective, not only do attacks on Kurds, create unnecessary conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state, but they also significantly weaken the opposition against ISIS. For Turkey to condemn academics, for daring to question their lust for power, when Turkey themselves have promised to fight against ISIS, Is both extremely undemocratic and Immoral. While you may be thinking at this point you are powerless to affect change, we can all play a part in putting pressure on our own governments, to push turkeys regime away from fascism and towards diplomacy.