Archive for the 'PKK' Category

HIRISE

The ‘new’ HIRISE developments in Libya point to the spread of the complex region wide wars that are now a permanent state in our current era of a slow motion great depression. Egyptian thug ruler al Sisi has just threatened to intervene if the Libyan government continue their offensive saying “Sirte and Jufra are the red line.” so naturally there has been a response from the Libyan government

I don’t think a major war is imminent but if a major war eventually breaks out, after the years of slaughter in Syria, it wouldn’t surprise very many in the region. I wonder how many Marxists it would surprise?

No doubt ½ theorists are all aware that penniless Putin-not-quite-Tsar of all the Russians, has sent a small ‘mercenary’ (Wagner group) air force contingent to a Libyan base and that those aircraft have overflown Sirte.

Then a couple of days ago the Egyptian coup leader Sisi declared this Jufra air base right at the center of Libya part of his ‘red line’ Club Med Protectorate. This coalition of the willing anti-democrats includes the UAE as a banker for the project and has both Saudi and even French support. This coalition is defying the UN arms embargo, and the UN recognized government, protected as it is by Turkey (backed by Italy).

Having lost the fight for the whole of Libya another enclave ‘solution’ is being established with a foundation of Russian air power. The inland air base and the city of Sirte on the coast splits the country. Libya is currently being broken into chunks -like Syria, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have been from previous renditions of the Putin playbook.

In the 21stC, long after it was well known that ‘countries want independence’, the democratic revolution for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is being vigorously resisted by the fascists. Predictably, that other side is fighting back so that gangsterism is preserved in these 5 countries just as it is being extended across the world in Hong Kong. Push is at shove and western leadership is not up to the task of effectively resisting the gangster regimes, so western interests that start with the spread of the democratic revolution will suffer. Sanctions are virtually all they are using to push back.  The ‘west’ is a headless chook.

Putin started his rule by turning the Chechnyan capital of Grozny to rubble; and then running the whole region as a gangster region. He couldn’t hold all of the Ukraine so he simply invaded and took what ‘Russian sectors’ he could get hold of. He did the same earlier with Georgia when the Georgians wanted to stop gangsters operating in their country. It’s what he has done in Syria where he has run up against an immovable opponent in democratic Turkey. Putin can’t put in the effort that the democratic Turks can and do so thankfully this ‘problem’ of the democracy seeking Syrian peoples now with a people’s army backstopped by Turkey won’t go away. But Putin can make sure that they do have to put in that huge effort for every square kilometre.

Putin thinks he’s a world scale map maker. He isn’t. He’s a slow acting poison that’s destroying the Russian economy. He makes enemies on every border and has distant but unstable ‘friends’. Eventually, Europe WILL accept the burden that is required for it’s clear self interest and step up to the task of effectively helping Turkey as it continues pushing back and squeezing Russia. Eventually, so the theory goes, no respectable country will do business with the Russians and a repeat of the collapse of the USSR will unfold. But how long that takes is an unknown known. How many ‘non-respectable’ countries will do the required business is a relevant factor. How long can the fascists in countries like Egypt and Iran keep their people terrorized and prevent them achieving democratic norms? Syria has shown the world what preventing democracy looks like as a direct comparison to enabling democracy in Iraq. Democratic revolution for the MENA is underway and will not be stopped. Draining this swamp is the big picture.

‘In late May, USAFRICOM reported that at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s were flown from Russia to Syria, their Russian markings were painted over to camouflage their Russian origin! These aircraft were then flown into Libya in direct violation of the United Nations arms embargo.’ https://www.africom.mil/pressrelease/32941/new-evidence-of-russian-aircraft-active-in-li

This is a textbook Russian deployment to oppose democracy. These airplanes are more than ‘ trip wire’ platforms and they will be at work soon enough killing the advancing revolutionaries. The Russian and the Egyptian fascists know they will be fighting soon. When they eventually start their attacks the danger of a clash with the Turks-or the US-is very real. This is push and shove enclave building! If something does go wrong what then? Would this spread a consequence back to Syria? Who knows, but very often ‘from little things big things grow’.  So we will all watch this space with more than just a little interest.

I for one hope something does ‘go wrong’ because it’s better to fight now than to let the Russians and the Egyptians take over half of Libya (and the oil rich half at that).

It seems that the Turkish ‘push’ in defense of democracy has brought on the anti-democratic shove back and the big picture for the MENA is all moving along as not much more than another front to the Syrian adventure for Russia. All just another logical step for the Russian military adventurers. But in 2020 NATO is split and the US is openly in LA LA land with a self obsessed POTUS. The prize for Russia could be seen or imagined to be potentially very big and the UAE and even the KSA is footing the bill no less. That thinking is a total illusion but look at the track record of Russian war making since Putin took charge. His type rather obviously sees the world very differently than I do.

At this point (4 years into the ‘Wagner’ meddling in Libya) it resembles a rerun of the Syrian play of almost 5 years ago. So it looks like Putin is a reasonably predictable gangster and this time he has huge numbers of allied ‘infantry’ from Egypt ready to occupy. This time Russia is fully backed by the neighborhood power who has made everything crystal clear. This time it ALSO includes the KSA and the UAE and has French and even some US support -sort of- yet it’s almost the same beast that has rubbleised Syria’,and Russia is still central to the whole coalition project. Russia is a massive arms dealer! What could be better than another display and the constant rat-a-tat use of the expensive ammo? Not to mention some blood for the oil that Libya is full of, and boy are the Russian and Egyptians keen on that black ‘gold’ issue.

It’s not really a major escalation to this part of this region’s wars at all. It’s as predictable as reminding everyone that Sisi and Putin are world class gangsters. It very effectively lays a godfather’s claim to dominating not just ½ the country of Libya but as time goes on it must be expected to build and eventually present a size 14 footprint in Africa where Russia is already, according to a US report ‘… the number one arms dealer in Africa. Russia continues to profit from violence and instability across the continent. Russian government backed PMCs, such as the Wagner Group, are active in sixteen countries across Africa. It is estimated that there are about 2,000 Wagner Group personnel in Libya.’ !

These Russian aircraft are being run by so-called mercenaries! Please…the Russian state even orders the murder of people on the streets of England! They have given the US a chance with silly denial to go to war against ‘mercenaries’ but they are dealing with Obama’s replacement, so that is no problem for them. The Russians will get away with this! The Club Med stop over in Syria now has a further purpose for transit movements even further south.

Now you would expect that if say Bolton, were POTUS, he would crush this move right now but HE was on the wrong horse from where he would have had to back flip, and anyway despite Bolton’s errors, alas Trump is POTUS. Macron and Trump! How bad can this get? The world still has 6 months of this farce and then we get Joe Alzheimer!

Speaking of Joe, why NOT select Michelle Obama for VP, and let Mr Charming loose on the Corona restrained campaign trail? After all Bill and Hillary almost pulled it off and there is this big Black Lives Matter movement to exploit. Every 4 years like clockwork, out comes the Democrat race card and they have played it early this time. Now given how much I despise his 8 long years of ‘anti-war’ Syria policies – of turning away from mass murder- I can’t say I’m keen for another dose in the form of Bumbling Joe and Mrs O. I am however fully prepared for it.

2 years into his term Joe Biden might even hand over the baton! Reagan didn’t though and they got through that. I’m keen to see what’s going to unfold over in LA LA land. We will all just have to wait to see the morning come when all these gifts to humanity have been unwrapped. How exciting for the hysterical anti-Trumpers. I expect even more idiocy from the US in the face of aggressive Chinese and Russian fascism. I expect nothing sensible from Boris and the Euro in-breds for a few years yet.  In short, the government I expect to carry the burden is headed by Erdogan as has been the case for the last 4 years.

Anyway; so everyone currently knows what is going on in Libya and yet…silence.

The Egyptians are now standing up as a senior member of the messy HI-RISE cow.

The US military in the region are furious but so what? The US military leadership are not happy they don’t want advanced Russian weapons systems targeting them from Libya! Trump’s military advisors may even think like Bolton and even be able to execute the back flip, but given Trump’s current anti-war stand they would be very slow to get any progress with him. I’m sure Trump could care less about a major point of conflict developing in Club Med land. He’ll easily resist getting drawn in and is to the extent that he would understand it, opposed to drain the swamp theory because he likes the old policies of backing strongmen. People that he thinks he can understand and do business with! His moves with Israel are the antithesis of a sensible retreat from the failed war for Greater Israel. Trump would rather go with the old policies that kept thugs like al Sisi in power, though even Sisi knows it’s against the US interests as famously spelt out by Condoleezza Rice in Cairo no less.

Something very dramatic would have to happen for Trump to win re-election from here. The only thing he has going for him is that he is up against Biden. But on the assumption that nothing that dramatic unfolds AND that Biden doesn’t just implode in some manner (and that can’t be ruled out) I’m calling Trump gone! Trump’s presidency will have ended before anything dramatic happens unless somebody spectacularly miscalculates and events run well ahead of all expectations.

Unfortunately as far as the next 2-3 year period is concerned this next 4 months is crucial for the MENA’s democratic revolution. Turkey is now carrying a huge load, and Egypt in throwing it’s ‘reserve’ strength on the scale is bound to bring on a cautious next step from Turkey. Actually, Erdogan has always danced this revolution backwards, while the HIRISE take the lead in direct opposition to the masses striving for the ‘Arab Spring’. He’s a conservative and has always behaved like one. No doubt with the rear view mirror he would have done things differently but so would ½ theorists! The real issue is how do we all stand now?

In this global supply chain era, the catastrophic disruption of this interestingly inconsistent pandemic has brought on an inevitable long term economic ‘unwinding’. That’s simply because capitalism in recession is musical chairs and the music has stopped; consequently who owns what is an international issue that is resolved right at the top of countries like Russia and China; just as is on display right now in Syria with their massive falling out at the top of the dung heap. It will take some time, and currently no one knows where this depression is headed off to; but as this all attempts to work through over the next few years the one clear issue that we can predict is that it just can’t be good news for the people’s in countries like Iran, Egypt, Syria etc. They are held in blatant open bondage while mass poverty now spreads in all directions. Once the sullen masses are on the streets again all bets will be off. But these ruling Cabals have focused their minds on how the Syrian tyranny has clung to power, as the alternative is a grim prospect for them. In the end these countries are ‘giants with feet of clay’.

The current gold medal of hanging onto power is the Syrian model. The anti-democrats around the world have learned by this example to resort to mass murder as rapidly and savagely as the Assad regime. Terror is now the first and only choice for Egypt and Iran and similar places. And they need a Godfather gangster supply chain like Russia has been!

A great example of the shrinking Russian play pond is the behavior of the thug leader of Belarus who has just arrested his political opponent prior to upcoming elections. They move on their opponents because they are worried! Police state Russia is rapidly heading in the same direction as Egypt and Iran.

Meanwhile al Sisi has simultaneously drawn a clear and blood red line that divides the ‘former’ country of Libya and denies the right of the current.Libyan government to recover the rebellious east! Given the history of Obama and his Syrian red line – that turned out to be no line at al,l there ought to be no mistake about what this statement is about. Turkey is standing firm but, without the US and a united NATO, is I think a little overstretched. If Egypt intervenes in a really big way, and I think that they have then Turkey will be stretched in just recovering Sirte. Uniting the entire country is beyond them at this stage. So without the US and Europe, Russia is now putting down it’s footprint!

Egypt and Russia (funded by the UAE) have in a business as usual manner for Putin effectively divided Libya with a small military force and the threat of a much larger one – all while talking about a political settlement. They are (on this front as they are in Yemen once again supported by the Saudi regime that is (or were) at one and the same time opposed to their Syrian HIRISE developments. Welcome to the MENA. HIRISE have established either a ‘state of war OR enclave’s; take your pick!’ This is the situation in another ‘civil war’ that they have been meddling in for 4 years. The Turks had turned up some months back and undone the situation and this is the response to that reversal.

From a revolutionary democrat POV (and in this region that means an Islamist POV) HIRISE elements can’t be permitted to get away with this if the revolution is to make any progress! But note this; the Islamists in the Libyan regime are so infiltrated with Al Qaeda sorts, that the Macron led French are stupidly collaborating with the Russians and the Egyptian thug regimes. Macron in this practice does not accept the drain the swamp theory! This is particularly confusing to me as the French have been involved with fighting Islamofascists all around Libya for some years now, with the Mali intervention being only perhaps the most public.

The Italians are on side with the Turks so NATO is thus divided! Unfortunately the latest nutter attack in England is from a young man with Libyan background! That is going to colour public attitudes to Islamist led governments. Erdogan has got a hard row to hoe and is currently (because they are still at war) intervening against the PKK in Iraq. There are however good signs that the Kurds in Turkey want this war ended and the democratic developments they were enjoying under Erdogan resumed. I for one hope the PKK leadership wake up to themselves and stop their collaboration with Assad and return to the productive ceasefire that existed prior to the Syrian war destroying that better situation. The Kurdish peoples’ of the region have much to gain from the democratic revolution and nothing to gain from Assad style tyranny continuing to exist.

Assad

Erdogan now the most important political leader in the world.

A long time ago I put that heading up and then shrugged my shoulders and didn’t write anything under it – but given all the current drama I had better spell out, just for the record, what I think is underway now.

4 years after the Russian intervention the world is now watching as a VERY large mechanized army is being inserted in part of what was Syria. They are on the opposite side to those Russians! Many people have failed to notice that this is the biggest picture in this complex development. Most yabbering in the MSM notice only that the Kurds have a big problem and forget that the whole picture of the region must be considered.

What I have termed HIRISE (Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, Iraq (Shia militias) Syria (undemocratic Assad), and Egypt (undemocratic militarists) is going to be the big loser when all this settles down and it will settle down with a FSA Islamist footprint.

The PKK/SDF do not have to join with Assad and his HIRISE suporters. They don’t have to go up against the Turks and the FSA. They have had choices for many years and they have not been willing to make those choices in the interests of genuine democracy. They have not shared power with the FSA but worked willingly with the root of all problems Assad. It is they who have been ethnically cleansing areas and not sharing power with the FSA so this fight was bound to come to them. People should remember that they are as often as not young ‘Turks’ and ‘Iraqi’ Kurds. They are very often non Syrian players just as they demonstrably were not when the Peshmerga turned up to fight ISIS in Kobani. They were correct to show up then and they would do well not to fight now. They are Kurds from the region being given the chance to join with the FSA and stand united against the undemocratic Assad supporting HIRISE. The region is at war.

The Turks for their part are going to continue to make a bigger footprint in Syria and that footprint will resemble current Turkey (a place that has genuine democracy and consequently naturally an Islamist government that is at war with a) islamofascists and b) Kurdish nationalists/separatists. The current Turkish government did not start either war and they have no real choice but to be at war with this Kurdish movement and no choice but to make war to end the HIRISE footprint. The genuine peace effort (despite the coup attempt and historical ill will across Turkey that can be wound back by more democractic practice) can be resumed. Kurdish oppression is still apparent in large parts of the population but change was underway and can be resumed with good will and an end to the armed struggle. I think that good will is on offer in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey and ought to be grabbed with both hands by the Kurd leadership but I think that it will not be and there will be yet another setback.

The refusal to remove themselves to the east of the Euphrates and allow the FSA to occupy that Arab territory was the indicator of what this would lead to. The young Kurds have been very badly led and sadly they will pay a terrible price for that poor leadership. It is very sad to see this slaughter of people I so admire and instinctively side with. But the Kurdish nation can not be liberated at the expense of the Arab peoples that constitute the vast bulk of the Syrian peoples. They must deal with the FSA not Assad.

There is even now a way forward for the Kurds and that is with a genuine democratic process and that process genuinely is being regionally led by Erdogan who is clearly opposite to HIRISE and the PKK in all its forms including as the SDF. The Kurds are not democratic yet but I hope that they will take that turn. The same turn that is required of the masses in Iran and in Egypt and so on. The region requires democratic revolution rather than nationalist border wars that the Kurds must back down from. The YPG etc and the SDF is just a PKK ruse. The SDF ought be made real.

The SDF has made war on the FSA just as the HIRISE troops have. They have collaborated with the HIRISE and are scrambling to do so now but it won’t work. The Turks are moving too fast for the HIRISE and are prepared to spread the war out from Idlib if they start being attacked by them so this is a push and shove moment.

We could say ‘I don’t blame the Kurds at the moment’ but the long term problem is that there can be zero democracy while millions of Syrian’s are displaced and not permitted to return to a safe country and that must be a democratic country. They can’t return if ‘Assad’ remains. HIRISE is no solution and is a fascist preserving enclave that has to be overthrown. It is a long term project.

Only Turkey and NATO who, apart from Trump (and who can tell with ga ga Trump) do not yet support the Turks, can do that liberation in anything like a realistic time frame. But with Russians involved that timeframe is not short.

The Turks have upped their involvement just as I said they would be eventually forced to do. They have taken this next move at about the right time and the people who will benefit from it are the returning Syrians who can only return to democracy. They have shown that they can take control of Islamist Syria and control the Islamofascists. They can’t however return people to paddocks and little towns so big cities must come on the agenda next.

The Kurds are not very happy but they have played their side and are still sitting in Manbij so they have given zero ground and now want to invite Assad and the Russians into Manbij. It ain’t going to happen.

The Kurds ought to have pulled out years ago and made some other substantial consessions to the Turks and re-established a genuine peace process that had been underway till the Syrian Civil war brought it back from deaths door.

This advance into Syria is the Free Syrian Army backed by democratic Islamists!

The Turkish military are under the control of the genuinely democratic and elected government of Turkey and they are the best in a rotten region.

The Islamist revolutionary fighters can best be controlled by this force.

What makes this a great problem for the HIRISE is that the US military is STILL very much around and in great demand now apparently. This lurking force is not going to let any significant territory fall to ‘Assad’.

HIRISE is the big loser from this.

This move forward is going to shake things up and despite the ABC/BBC commentary stability is not to be hoped for.

Syrian Links

Drop any links that you think may be useful for getting to grips with ‘Syrian issues’ in this thread.

Here is a sample .

 

 

 

PKK commander threatens to resume war

Cemil Bayik, the PKK’s top field commander, is interviewed by Al-Monitor in the Kandil Mountains, September 2014. (photo by Amberin Zaman)

Exclusive: From

On Sept. 24, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) issued a highly critical statement. In a nutshell, it said that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had “eliminated” the conditions of a mutually observed 18-month cease-fire between the PKK and the Turkish army. It said that, in response to “the AKP’s war against our people, our leadership council has decided to step up its struggle in every area and by all possible means.” I had heard similar words on Sept. 21 from Cemil Bayik, the top PKK commander in the field, during a three-hour meeting I had with him in a tent in the Kandil Mountains.

In an exclusive interview, the Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) top military commander, Cemil Bayik, says that Turkey has sabotaged the peace process and the PKK is ready to resume open conflict.
Author Amberin Zaman Posted September 25, 2014

“We may resume our war at the end of September. We have the authority to resume the war,” Bayik said.

“What of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan?” I asked.

“We have a division of labor. Our leader has the authority to make peace,” he replied.

I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you sure?” I asked repeatedly, because his words could have profound consequences for Turkey and its government.

Bayik responded positively: “We will be making a statement to this effect,” he said.

I thus decided to wait for the PKK to make its statement before publishing this interview. I did not want to be the first to impart the gloomy news. Because in the repressive climate that is gripping Turkey, I might have been accused of warmongering. So, is there a real risk that the insurgency will resume? Won’t Ocalan have the final say? Is the PKK’s statement no more than a tactical move aimed at putting pressure on the government? I would say yes to both questions. That said, with every passing day that the AKP government fails to take concrete steps to solve the Kurdish problem, the risk of the cease-fire’s ending grows. I raised all of these issues with Bayik, who hasn’t set foot in Turkey since 2000.

The following are the highlights of the interview he gave to Al-Monitor:

Al-Monitor: How is the Islamic State [IS] onslaught against Kobani [the Syrian Kurdish-majority town of Ayn al-Arab on the Turkish border] affecting the peace process in Turkey?

Bayik: The attacks by Daesh [the initials of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham] against Kobani helped elucidate two things. One was whether Turkey’s collaboration with Daesh is continuing or not. The other is whether the peace process is continuing in the north [i.e., Turkey] or not. What emerged is that Turkey is continuing its relations with Daesh and that Turkey will not solve the Kurdish problem in the north. Because a Turkey that supports Daesh’s attacks against Kobani, that seeks to depopulate Kobani and lobbies for the establishment of a buffer zone cannot sever its ties with Daesh. Because if it did so Daesh would expose all of Turkey’s dirty laundry, and document the links between them.

Al-Monitor: Are you able to prove that these links exist?

Bayik: Before Daesh attacked Kobani, Turkish officials contacted the YPG [the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units] official responsible for Kobani. They warned him that should the YPG attack the Shah tomb [the Ottoman Tomb of Suleiman Shah inside Syria, which is guarded by Turkish troops and considered Turkish territory] that Turkey would retaliate in kind. I repeat, they said this before we were aware that Daesh would attack. Isn’t this strange?

Second, two days after the campaign against Kobani started, a Turkish train stopped at an Arab village near [the IS-controlled] Tell Abyad border gate and unloaded weapons and ammunition that were taken by Daesh. There are eyewitnesses to this transfer. And during this period the [Turkish] hostages [held by IS in Mosul] affair is supposedly resolved. These events are all interlinked. Turkey then opens the Mursitpinar border gate with Kobani just as Daesh fires Katyusha rockets at Kobani and surrounding villages to sow panic among the people. Turkey opens the border gate on the third day of the attack so that the people can flee to Turkey. This is what Daesh wants as well. This proves the collusion between them. Because Turkey has long wanted the establishment of a buffer zone. Its aim is to prevent the Kurds in Rojava [Syrian Kurdish areas in western Kurdistan] from winning a formal status. By emptying Kobani and provoking a mass exodus of people, Turkey can then claim before the international community that its own security is at stake and set about establishing a buffer zone.

Al-Monitor: Very senior Iraqi Kurdish officials told me that Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s national spy agency [MIT], had as recently as last week offered to mediate between the Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party [PYD]. Doesn’t this contradict your claims?

Bayik: Not at all. Turkey always supported the KDP against the PYD. Now they [the Turks] are supposedly trying to drive a wedge between the PKK and the PYD and to draw the PYD into an alliance with groups that are close to [the Turks] and to bring them in line with their own [Turks’] Syria policy. There are thousands of Syrian Kurds within the PKK. During the war [against Turkey] 1,500 Syrian Kurds were martyred. Many Syrian Kurd commanders from the PKK went over to Rojava to train YPG forces and to help them in the fight against Daesh. Such matters do not always work the way Turkey intends them to through money and weapons. And there is no friction between the YPG and the PKK as claimed. They are acting together in the south [Iraqi Kurdistan] in Kirkuk, in Shengal, in Rabiya. The only force to defend Rojava is the PKK.

Al-Monitor: IS has some very modern weapons. Aren’t you having trouble combating them?

Bayik: Yes, they have modern American weapons they seized in Mosul. Our own weapons aren’t effective against the American tanks that they use. Besides, we are used to fighting in mountainous terrain and now we are forced to do so in open plains. But we are a movement that adapts quickly to new circumstances.

Al-Monitor: Getting back to the peace process, you say that you have realized that the AKP will not solve the Kurdish problem

Bayik: We realized this a while back. There is tremendous pressure on our leader [Ocalan] and a very ugly psychological war that is being waged against him. Propaganda is being spread to demean him in the eyes of the people.

Al-Monitor: To the contrary, what we see is that Ocalan has been legitimized before the public as never before.

Bayik: You may not see this, but there are those who know and it’s reached all the way to us. I am telling you openly: Turkey must immediately stop these psychological ops tactics and end its pressure on our leader.

Al-Monitor: Can you be more explicit. What kind of pressure?

Bayik: I do not want to share all the details. It may not be appropriate at this time. But there is no improvement in the internment conditions of our leader. Recently, his sister and nephew visited him and they were put in a room where nobody could breathe. The nephew protested to the prison guards, saying they were aware of our leader’s breathing difficulties. Their response was that they would have to meet there and that was all. Moreover, they forced the meeting to end before the allotted time. The new government is trying to force our leader to roll back his demands by applying pressure on him. This applies especially to the negotiating points. But as they know he won’t back down, they are going to use this as an excuse to set the stage for war.

Al-Monitor: Are you saying that Turkey wants to resume the war?

Bayik: Absolutely. If this were not so, they would have worked harder at solving the problem. They would have improved the internment conditions of our leader. They would have accepted the presence of third-party observers in the peace talks. And they would have allowed the negotiating sides to carry equal weight. All they have done is to pass a bill to “end terrorism” in the parliament [legislation that effectively formalized the talks without actually referring to their substance]. And they did so kicking and screaming. We are concerned with actions, not words. The negotiations have still not started. They want to keep the talks on a dialogue level. They want to deceive our people. We have been in dialogue for years. We went back and forth to Oslo for years [the secret Oslo talks that ended in 2009].

Al-Monitor: Did you go to Oslo?

Bayik: No.

Al-Monitor: Have you had contact with any Turkish officials over the phone?

Bayik: No. I haven’t touched a phone since 2003 for personal security reasons.

Al-Monitor: During the presidential campaign of [the left-wing People’s Democracy Party (HDP) Kurdish candidate] Selahattin Demirtas the Kurdish political movement gained a lot of ground. Demirtas won support from most unexpected quarters. By talking in this manner, aren’t you undermining peaceful politics?

Bayik: As we are at the center of this process, if we say there is no progress in the peace progress, that means there is no progress because there is no one better placed to assess this. We have paid a very heavy price during 40 years of conflict. Thousands of our fighters and cadres were martyred. Thousand of Kurdish villages were burned and destroyed. Thousands of our people fell victim to extrajudicial killings. And now we see that the numbers of village guards [a state-paid anti-PKK Kurdish militia] are growing. Army garrisons are being built, together with supply roads. We are sticking to the cease-fire but they are not. And they took advantage of the cease-fire to launch a war against Rojava. We gave them time. We said they had until the end of September to take certain steps. We said that unless they do so by the end of September the war would resume.

Al-Monitor: Did you say “we will resume” or “may resume”?

Bayik: “May resume.”

Al-Monitor: But don’t you need Ocalan’s authorization for this?

Bayik: We decide on war. The authority to end the cease-fire lies with us. But our leader Apo [as Ocalan is often called by his followers] decides on peace, on the continuation of the peace process. His role is different from ours. We are complementary.

Al-Monitor: But if Apo says peace must prevail, you won’t be able to decide on war. Thus, the final decision rests with Apo.

Bayik: Ocalan is our leader. We are a movement that obeys its leader. We are loyal to our leader. But unless Turkey takes some steps, how can our leader say, “No, do not fight?” We are having trouble restraining our fighters as it is.

Al-Monitor: What are your demands from Turkey?

Bayik: The internment conditions of our leader need to be improved. We cannot negotiate in his present conditions. Third-party observers must be allowed to take part in the negotiations. They can be from civil society, from the parliament or from an international organization. It can also be a foreign power. And the support being given to Daesh against Rojava must end. Rojava is part of the peace process. This is clear.

Al-Monitor: Just as you have won plaudits for your role in helping the Yazidis in Sinjar and for your prowess in combating IS, and just as the international community is debating delisting the PKK and American cooperation with the YPG, would you not be throwing this all away by attacking Turkey, a NATO member?

Bayik: No. We are a legal movement. And nobody can blame the PKK. Until now we have declared nine unilateral cease-fires since 1993. In 2013, on the occasion of Nowruz [the Kurdish New Year], we freed all our prisoners. We ended the war and began to withdraw our fighters from Turkey. We are not eyeing anyone’s territory. We are not seeking independence. All we want is to live freely with our own identity, culture and values in democratic conditions.

Al-Monitor: But is it not risky to open a second front against Turkey when you are fighting IS in Rojava?

Bayik: We have been fighting for 40 years. If need be, we shall fight for many more years. We are fighting because we are being forced to do so. We are not going to surrender after 40 years. No power can implement its strategies in the Middle East without taking the PKK into account.

Al-Monitor: You speak of democracy but in recent days a group that calls itself the PKK’s youth wing has been burning down schools in the southeast of Turkey. Do such actions have any place in a democracy?

Bayik: Burning schools is wrong. But our people built schools there with their own means. They want to study in the Kurdish language, so why is the state forbidding this? There is a great deal of anger among our youth. Even we are having trouble restraining them. When we ask them why they burn schools, they respond, “Why are our schools being shut down?” There is a lot of alienation. The number of people joining our ranks last month has exceeded that in 1993. In 1993, around 1,000 people would join every month. Last month, 1,200 people joined.

Al-Monitor: The Turkish government spokesman Huseyin Celik said that we can now talk with Kandil [the PKK leadership]. No sooner did Ahmet Davutoglu become prime minister, he made very positive statements about the peace process. For the first time, a government is talking directly to Ocalan and announcing this to the public. It has done more than any of its predecessors to solve the Kurdish problem. Does none of this mean anything? Besides, why would the government want to go to war before the elections?

Bayik: Yes, the government continues to speak positively about the peace process. And the pro-government media is helping to propagate this upbeat mood. This is a delaying tactic, a deception. They are trying to portray Apo as being optimistic when in fact he continually criticizes the AKP during the talks. They want to drain the process of all its substance and they want to manage it at their whim. What was their aim? To win the [March 2014] local elections and then the [August 2014] presidential elections. And now they want to win the 2015 [parliamentary] elections.

It’s true that they would not want to resume the war before the elections. They want the cease-fire to continue, but they want it to continue without making any concessions, save for a few unimportant gestures. After the 2015 elections, their position may change.
Amberin Zaman
Columnist

Amberin Zaman is an Istanbul-based writer who has covered Turkey for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Voice of America. A frequent commentator on Turkish television, she is currently Turkey correspondent for The Economist, a position she has retained since 1999. On Twitter: @amberinzaman
Original Al-Monitor Translations
Türkçe okuyun

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-pkk-commander-bayik-threatens-resume-war.html#ixzz3Ef8umk6J

Why is the PKK siding with the AKP in the AKP-Gulen conflict?

On Feb. 2, the Turkish daily Vatan published an interview with Cemil Bayik, one of the leading “commanders” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The interviewer, Rusen Cakir, is a prominent Turkish journalist known for his expertise on the Kurdish issue, political Islam and the current political battle between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gulen movement. No wonder Bayik addressed this hot topic in Turkish politics. At the PKK headquarters in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains, the guerrilla leader shared various views about Turkish politics, but the bottom line was the Vatan headline: “Behind the [Gulen] community, there is America; they want to get rid of Erdogan.”

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) may believe that the enemy of my friend is my enemy.

From

Author Mustafa Akyol Posted February 3, 2014

Translator Ezgi Akin

This was perfectly in line with the AKP government’s explanations of the recent corruption probe: a foreign-backed conspiracy — if not “coup attempt” — by the pro-Gulen “parallel state” within the Turkish state. Bayik’s statement was, in other words, music to AKP ears.

In fact, it was not just Bayik but also the very leader of the PKK, the jailed Abdullah Ocalan, who recently took a stance supportive of the AKP against Gulen followers. From his prison cell on Imrali Island, he spoke against “those who want to set our country ablaze once again with the fire of a coup.” This was interpreted in the Turkish media as support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No wonder AKP deputy Mehmet Metiner, an Erdogan loyalist, publicly commended Ocalan for his stance.

But why is the PKK — a terrorist group, by Turkish and most international definitions — sympathetic to the AKP in Turkey’s new power struggle? And why does this matter?

The first question has a simple answer: The PKK sees the AKP government, especially Erdogan, as its partner for “peace.” The organization has fought the Turkish state relentlessly since 1984 with a guerilla war that has claimed more than 40,000 lives, but the “political solution” that liberals have been advocating became possible only under Erdogan. In late 2012, a “resolution process” began based on covert talks between the Turkish government and Ocalan, and the conflict has been silent ever since. Both sides complain that the other is too timid to take the promised steps, but both sides seem willing to keep the peace as well.

On the other hand, the Gulen movement is known to be skeptical of this peace process. In fact, the AKP has accused the Gulen movement’s “parallel state” within the police and judiciary of trying to “sabotage the peace process.” The “Turkish National Intelligence Organization crisis” of February 2012 is interpreted as one of the earliest signs of this intention. Since then, it has been whispered in Ankara, and lately exposed in the press, that the Gulen community is against peace with the PKK.

One wonders why. The movement is globally known for moderation and pacifism, and Fethullah Gulen publicly praised “peace” when the deal with the PKK first went public. However, journalists close to the movement have repeatedly raised concerns about how the AKP government is “fooled” by the PKK. (I wrote in May 2013 for Al-Monitor that “the Gulen movement is not against the peace process, but is skeptical of its success and critical of its methods.”) Since then, such criticisms of the peace process have only increased in the pro-Gulen media.

These days, the pro-Erdogan camp, in its usual conspiratorial tone, explains the uneasiness of the Gulen movement with the peace process as a sign of its “high treason.” Accordingly, the peace process disturbs “the powers that want to weaken Turkey,” and since the Gulen movement is a puppet for those evil powers, they treacherously sabotage what is good for Turkey. However, using Occam’s razor, one can find a simpler explanation: The Gulen movement considers the PKK a threat, specifically to the movement’s facilities in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey, including a wide network of schools, dormitories and charities. The PKK has targeted these institutions over the years, saying they “steal Kurdish children” from being PKK militants and make them followers of the pro-Turkish teachings of Gulen.

Gulen himself noted this tension recently in a rare interview, given to the BBC. Gulen said Ocalan was “uneasy with what we were doing with the Kurdish people” in reference to the extension of Hizmet schools deep in Kurdish territory. “They didn’t want our activities to prevent young people joining the militants in the mountains. Their politics is to keep enmity between Kurdish and Turkish people.”

This should explain why there is a conflict between the Gulen movement and the PKK, and why the latter supports the AKP, its “peace partner,” against the movement. How this will influence Turkish politics is a separate matter.

The PKK is loathed by the majority of Turkish society, so its support will not be of much help there for the government. Only the left-wing liberals who ardently support the peace process see it as a reason to stand by the AKP. However, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has 26 seats in parliament and some 6% to 8% of the votes, according to various polls. This political bloc may be an ally for Erdogan in the coming months, even in the presidential elections of next summer, where Erdogan, if he runs, will need the majority of all votes.

In short, the PKK has taken a clear side in the AKP-Gulen conflict in favor of the AKP, and this has an understandable logic. Instead of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic, it’s the other way around: “The enemy of my friend is my enemy.”

Mustafa Akyol
Columnist

Mustafa Akyol is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse and a columnist for Turkish Hurriyet Daily News and Star. His articles have also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. He is the author of Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty. On Twitter: @AkyolinEnglish

Original Al-Monitor Translations
Türkçe okuyun
Translated with Google
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