On August 9th, Turkey’s Islamist government’s Foreign Minister engaged in some mathematical chutzpah. Follow the excerpts below from Istanbul’s Today’s Zaman to get a hint at what I mean…
Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey would not be opposed to a possible autonomous Kurdish region in Syria following the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, if all groups in the country can agree on it…Stating that Turkey is not against the improvement of Kurds’ rights in Syria, the foreign minister recalled that he had met with leaders of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) during a visit he paid to Arbil…Davutoğlu said, “I told them, the leader of the SNC chairs the council as a Syrian Kurd. And you [KNC] are sitting here as Syrian Kurds. Sit down and come to terms. What we oppose is the threat of terrorism and the possibility of one of you claiming possession of somewhere. Elections should be held in Syria; a parliament should be formed that includes Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. You can come together and say we will grant autonomy [to the Kurds]. This is up to you. We would not oppose that”…Turkey announced it strongly opposes the presence of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria’s northern cities along the Turkish border following the withdrawal of Assad’s forces from predominantly Kurdish-populated areas …Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier warned that Turkey will intervene if “terrorist formations” emerge along its border.
Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, who could object to more freedom and rights for people?
Well, I have no objections with what Davutoğlu said. It’s what he didn’t say that’s the problem.
Notice, for starters, how the Foreign Minister sits on his delusional moral high horse speaking of alleged concern for the improvement of Kurdish rights…in Syria.
No doubt, this is needed. Ismet Cherif Vanly’s book, The Syrian Mein Kampf Against The Kurds (Amsterdam, 1968) has that title for good reason and is one of many sources I have used in my research for over four decades now and in the writing of my book which includes this subject in depth and detail (http://q4j-middle-east.com).
In many ways, however, Syrian and Iraqi Arabs merely copied a page from the Turks’ own book.
Among other things, besides the imprisonments, massacres, and other violence, the Kurds’ language and culture were outlawed to Arabize them as Ankara did likewise to Turkify them–to the point of renaming the Kurds “Mountain Turks” instead. The PKK, mentioned in the above excerpts, was sired by Ankara’s subjugation of almost one half of the entire Kurdish population of the world (some 35-40 million truly stateless people) who remained within its post-World War I borders.
Recall that Iraqi Arabs gassed and slaughtered some two hundred thousand Kurds during the Anfal Campaign in the 1980s–and many others prior to that.
With the breakup of the age-old Ottoman Turkish Empire after World War I, and prior to the League of Nations’ Mosul Decision in 1925, Kurds had been promised independence in at least part of the Mandate of Mesopotamia. After 1925, a collusion of British petroleum politics and Arab nationalism secured the entire Mandate solely for the Arabs’ interests instead.
Caught between a reinvigorated, if constricted, nation of the Turks due to Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) and his Iranian counterpart, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Kurds’ best chance at independence in the new nationalist age was thus reduced to Mesopotamia–and the Brits nipped that in the bud. Keep in mind that Kurdish population is double that of Syria’s.
Almost a century later, we are living with the tragic consequences of this earlier treachery today, as witnessed by the Turkish Foreign Minister’s comments.
But, I’ve detoured a bit. The main focus of this analysis has to do with Turkey and the comments Ankara’s Foreign Minister recently made about the Kurds. So let’s get back on track.
It’s always easier to point fingers elsewhere, but there really is much wisdom in the saying that those who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones.
It’s great that the Turks now express alleged positive concern about Syria’s three million Kurds–but what about the plight of some17-20 million of these same people in Ankara’s own southeastern provinces? Had the Turks’ subjugation of these folks not existed, there would be no PKK nor support for it.
Speaking of glass houses…
Ankara organizes “relief” flotillas to support Hamas in Gaza–an Arab group totally dedicated to murder Jews and their sole, tiny state–but expects no one anywhere to give sympathy to the cause of the PKK.
Unlike Hamas, the PKK does not seek the destruction of Turkey–just political and cultural rights for the Kurdish people. And while Arabs already have almost two dozen states–including one, Jordan, formed from almost 80% of the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine, Kurds still have no state at all.
Related to this mathematical reality, let’s next consider the following…
The CIA’s Fact Book on Israel shows it to have a population of roughly 7. 5 million people, of whom about 20% are Arab. Among the latter are some very hostile elements. Israel’s territory is about 20,770 sq Km.
Turkey has a population of about 80 million people, of whom about 20% are Kurds. Turkey’s territory is about 780,580 sq Km.
About thirty-eight Israels would fit into Turkey.
Despite Israel’s minuscule size, Ankara (and its friends elsewhere–like the American State Department ) has no problem demanding that Israel allow the creation of another Arab state, dedicated to its destruction, right in the Jews’ backyard. The Turks simply ignore proclamations by even so-called Arab “moderates” that all negotiations and other such “peace initiatives” are but Trojan Horses, steps along the way in the Arabs’ post-’67 destruction in phases strategy for Israel.
Now, how will the one-fifth of Israel’s population that is Arab react to this adjacent potential hostile development which the Turks insist upon? And how will the majority of Hashemite Jordan, which is also mostly Palestinian Arab (however you define that since many, if not most, “Palestinians” entered the Mandate of Palestine after 1920 from elsewhere in the region ), react to this?
The Arafatians had already tried a takeover of Jordan in 1970. They were crushed in King Hussein’s “Black September.” And Israel’s mobilization in the north sent a message to the PLO’s Syrian allies at the time as well. Yet, neither the Turks, nor hardly anyone else, seem to be worried about any destablizing effects that the creation of a Hamastan or Fatahland will likely cause.
But, more to the point, the same Turkish hypocrites now crying crocodile tears for Syrian Kurds, and who declare that Israel must grossly endanger itself so that yet another Arab state might be born, insist that Kurds must remain forever stateless because of some problems that their freedom might cause to a Turkey nearly forty times Israel’s size in territory and about eleven times its size in population–and with the same roughly 80% to 20% mix of potential “headaches.”
Recall Davutoğlu’s earlier comment to the Kurds, “what we oppose is the threat of terrorism and the possibility of one of you claiming possession of somewhere.”
Keep in mind that, besides Turkey, Turkic peoples have about another half dozen states in Central Asia, but how dare some forty million Kurds–who pre-date both Arabs and Turks in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey by millennia–dream to have a nation of their own.
In the wake of the Islamist and so-called Arab Spring, a new Middle East must be born…one in which all of its diverse peoples finally get a slice of the relative justice pie. And that’s precisely what is meant by the subtitle of my own book, The Quest For Justice In The Middle East…The Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective.
It’s that greater perspective, you see, that’s far too often deliberately ignored…and not only by the Turks.
by Gerald A. Honigman