Turkey and its Kurds at war: Recep Tayyip Erdogan's personal quest for survival
Date Written: 16/09/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX19803
Examining the ongoing civil war between the Turkish government and Kurds, focusing especially on the recent plight of Cizre, a south eastern town with a massive Kurdish population. The author criticises the Turkish government which waged war against its own citizens in the Kurdish regions of the country.
The Kurdish town of Cizre, a settlement with a population of approximately 150 thousand souls in Southeastern Turkey, is now under siege of the Turkish armed forces and the so-called special operation force of the police for a second time, after a previous one-week long siege was lifted for an interlude of two days. A round-the-clock curfew is accompanied by power cuts and the interruption all means of communication including mobile telephones and the Internet. The evidence that came out when the first round of siege was lifted attests to a terrible human drama. Over 30 civilians are dead, ranging from a 35-day old infant to a 75-year old man. Before the siege was lifted, government sources claimed that security forces had killed more than a dozen fighters of the PKK, the Kurdish guerrilla army, denying any civilian deaths. How the baby and the old man could have contributed to the fight of the PKK remains a mystery unexplored by government spokespeople after the facts have come to light.
Turkeys war is not only against the PKK, but the Kurdish people as a whole. It has taken at least three different forms. The first is the military conflict proper between the Turkish armed forces and the PKK. This has so far taken the form of bombardments by the Turkish air force of PKK camps in Northern Iraq, on the territory of the Kurdish Regional Government led by Barzani, a close American and Turkish ally.
The second form the war has taken is the effort on the part of the state to pacify the flashpoints in the cities and towns of Turkish Kurdistan. Since early 2013, a process of negotiations between the government and the PKK, called the solution process was going on. However, not all in the Kurdish movement are happy with this process. Abdullah Ocalan, the historic leader of the PKK, held in captivity since 1999, is the architect of the process. Yet there are other actors on the scene. The official ones are the PKK based in Northern Iraq and the HDP, the Peoples Democratic Party, an avatar of the parliamentary Kurdish movement that has now joined forces with a host of Turkish socialist parties and movements. Among these three, Ocalan is the most flexible while the PKK projects a more intransigent image.
In order to stop this war, one needs to identify the dynamics that lies behind its eruption. Unfortunately, the Kurdish movement, long under the influence of the liberal intelligentsia, keeps repeating that what is needed is a return to the status quo ante, i.e. to the solution process at the stage where it was left off. This ignores the fact that there are very definite forces at play that have led to this war and these should be countered and defeated before peace or at least a cease-fire can be re-established.
The overbearing reason, eclipsing all others in importance, is that which derives from the political interests of Tayyip Erdogan. In an earlier article (The strategic defeat of Recep Tayyip Erdogan) published on this web site after the elections of 7th June in Turkey, we pointed out that the pitiful results obtained by Erdogans party, the AKP, which lost 10 percentage points of the popular vote, as well as its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, is simply a registration of the earlier strategic defeat of this politician at the hands of the masses, first in the popular revolt that was triggered by the Gezi Park incident in June 2013 and subsequently during the serhildan (intifada) in October 2014 staged by the Kurdish people in reaction to his callous attitude to the plight of Kobane when it was attacked by ISIL. The election results were a double catastrophe for Erdogan. On the one hand, he needs a two- thirds majority in parliament if he is to amend the constitution so as to convert the Turkish political system into a presidential one, giving him the powers to control the whole political process, powers that he now lacks under the current parliamentary setup in which the office of the president of the republic he now occupies is rather ceremonial in nature.
Our party, the Revolutionary Workers Party (DIP), finds itself quite solitary in propounding another line: in active solidarity with the Kurdish movement and people, it nonetheless constantly warns against the dangers that flow from an alliance the Kurdish movement seems open to establish with imperialism and the orientation of both the HDP and the June Bloc towards the CHP. We fight to build the party within the working class, gaining visible success in this during the wildcat strike of tens of thousands of metalworkers in the months of May and June this year, so as to bring the power of the proletariat to bear on the political situation.