Recent activity by the Turkish military and government presents a real danger of invasion by Turkey against the Kurdish Autonomous region. Next week the Turkish Parliament will be voting to approve military action against the Kurdish Autonomous Region. While the US State Department has opposed such actions, as have the EU and Russia, it clearly remains a likely scenario in the near future that Turkish troops will invade southern Kurdistan in its never-ending military campaign against the Kurdish resistance movement. Americans who support the rights of the Kurdish nation confront a mixed proposition. While I adamantly oppose the US occupation of Iraq, I cannot simply stand by and accept Turkish military intervention as a solution to the oppression of Kurds as a viable option in resolving the longstanding conflict. For too long, Turkish troops have displaced hundreds of Kurdish villages and killed tens of thousands of Kurds in Turkey. It is important now to present a strong and singular warning to Turkey of the consequences of such an attack on the Kurdish Autonomous Region within Iraq.
The US Senate recently approved a resolution that recognized the concept of federalism within the Iraqi state. It is not binding on Iraq, or on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). It does propose that the national aspirations of the Kurdish people be recognized internationally in the political reconfiguration in regards to the rights of both sects and the Kurdish nation in post-occupation scenario. The KRG has proposed a national dialogue within Iraq on this issue. Too often there is a presumption that the three have common but distinct goals in the removal of US troops. The fact is that the Kurdish position focuses on preserving the autonomy of the Kurdistan Regional Government within the context of a weaker central Iraqi government or, failing that, to establish its own state. There is no desire to subordinate the KRG’s ability to protect Kurdish people to others whose failure to defend the Kurdish people in the recent past stands as a historical legacy. Neither is it acceptable for the US to stand blind to the mass murders of Kurds as it did after the Persian Gulf War.
There is no obscuring the issue given the recent activity of the Turkish military. Its record in regards to displacements of Kurdish villages and mass murders stands despite its denials. The historic actions of the Ottoman Empire against Armenians stand as a clear warning that the Turkish government’s actions do not match their words. A Congressional Committee today approved a resolution condemning this genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. Clearly, the Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan is seeking not only to continue to deny the genocide against the Armenians but is seeking to widen its conflict against the Kurds today.
Americans need to support the Kirkuk referendum as a non-violent and democratic means of determining the status of Kirkuk within Iraq. If it is decided to be integrated as part of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, this would empower those within the borders of Iraq to decide their own destiny. The Turkish opposition to the right to hold this referendum is an unwarranted interference in the affairs of another country. Turkmen within Kirkuk are by no means excluded from this process, but they are by no means represented by the Turkish government. If the Turkish goal is to annex the Kurdish Autonomous Region into Turkey, clearly a military invasion will attempt to make this a fait accompli. This will not demonstrate the will of the Kurdish people who have voted overwhelmingly in support of their national sovereignty. At issue is the very right for the Kurdish nation to establish their own government to represent their people. American people need to be taught the recent history of relations within Iraq and the roles of Iran, Iraq and Turkey and why it is so critical that Kurds have the ability to determine their future for themselves. This is not an advocacy for US occupation of Turkey, or for military action against Iran. There is no hidden alliance here between the Kurdish nation and Israel to increase Israeli control. It is solely an effort to defend the legitimate demands of the Kurdish people and their right to construct their own future. American military aid to Turkey has made possible their ability to become such a powerful force in the region. This aid should be suspended until Turkey ceases its provocations. Turkish occupation is not an alternative to US occupation. As it stands, the US military has not played any significant role in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. Peace and tranquility has been established by the current consensus of Kurdish peoples to self-government within the Iraqi state.
The rights of the peoples of southern Kurdistan have been constitutionally defined. The Kirkuk referendum has been mandated in the Constitution in Article 140. While this is by no means the final resolution of the issue, the Kurdistan Regional Government has worked as a distinct entity, recognized by all other parties within Iraq. It has distinct interests that distinguish it from those in the Sunni and Shi’a sects. Americans sometimes confuse the sectarian positions from the Kurdish national right to self-determination. As a politically recognized entity within Iraq, the Kurdish Autonomous Region is distinguished from the status of the sects and the parties that represent them. It is possible to promote the Kurdish rights without presuming the right of US occupation. There is a need to demonstrate international commitments to the defense of the Kurdish nation.
American people can readily accept the distinctions. We have no right to impose on the Kurdish people, given the actions of Saddam Hussein, the requirement to support any subjugation of the Kurdish nation. The solution lies within the expressed desires of the Kurdish people. Americans need to understand what this means. It means that Turkey has NO right to interfere in the rights to self-government of the Kurdish peoples within Iraq.American people can readily accept the distinctions. We have no right to impose on the Kurdish people, given the actions of Saddam Hussein, the requirement to subordinate their effort to self-determination to the interests of those who have subjected them in the recent past to mass murders. The solution lies within the expressed desires of the Kurdish people. Americans need to understand what this means. It means that Turkey has NO right to interfere in the rights to self-government of the Kurdish peoples within Iraq.
Educational work is necessary to expose the true character of the Turkish war against Kurds that has been going on for 30 years. The role of the PKK in this struggle remains a matter that needs to be included without fear of being critical of particular tactics that it has used in its history. The fundamental issue is the discrimination and national oppression of Kurdish people by the Turkish government and the reign of terror on rural Kurds by the Turkish military. To suggest that recent military moves by the Turkish military are based on attacks on the Turkish military by the PKK needs to be exposed in the context of Turkey’s unending dedication to crush ANY form of Kurdish self-government in the region and prevent the construction of a stable economy.