Archive for the 'Turkey/Kurds' Category

Run!

No choice but to run for their lives.

Artillery is for destroying a military opponent or any ‘legitimate target of war’ and I’m always glad to hear of any people running away from artillery directed at military forces operating near them. Naturally directing such fire at civilians is a war crime and so is systematically bombing hospitals from the air. When that bombing is the reality, plausible denial is sought. Putin is a criminal perpetrator and is bombing hospitals as policy. This has been a continuation of Assad’s policies. Yet even reckless aerial bombing really is the same as directing artillery fire at civilians. The HIRISE coalition doesn’t have any credibility remaining over refugee making issues like hospital bombing. Quite simply Putin is a war criminal assisting Assad who is another war criminal and Steve obviously knows this just as well as I do. So my question is; what is the plan to stop these criminals from committing their ongoing crimes? It can’t possibly be to declare that the criminally conducted war is over and that these criminals won! Any declaration that the war is over just permits a return to their smaller scale, day by day normal crimes. It’s no plan to stop the war criminals.

So what is or ought to be the ‘western’ plan to stop them committing crimes? After all, even people like Steve are not opposed to revolution or so he proudly says; and we are to understand by that, not opposed to a revolution for democracy, meaning very broadly, almost across the political and cultural swamp of the middle east. So we are to understand that Steve is all for the draining of that swamp, that is to say, the changing of the politics and culture from brute tyranny to liberal democracy at some stage 1 level. (whatever that exactly means for their region). The west had to start somewhere and so will they. It won’t look like the current west anymore than a trip back in time would take us to some good old days.

What such ‘support’ for revolution means (at a minimum) is acceptance of democratic elections under a constitution that protects the minority from the oppression of a majority in the manner of the Iraqi constitution, and then the ongoing struggle to make those words a living functioning reality. All pretty basic stuff for people who say ‘And this doesnt mean I’m against communism or against revolution it just means Im against stupid.’ sic We all remember that Jefferson owned slaves, and there are demonstrations, riots and killing in Iraq right now!

Now I have often objected to actions from people who while nominally on my side do things that are ‘stupid’, one only has to go back a couple of days and see how deadly and obviously harmful such rotten actions can be. I called it out straight away but that didn’t stop Steve from making use of the same crime to attack the whole war. Democrats are opposed to all such crimes but we can’t forget those bigger crimes that set the stage for these other crimes. Those bigger crimes have driven ½ the population of Syria out of their homes and they haven’t stopped yet! Ultimately 500,000 deaths stem from the crime of a tyranny holding on to power when the peaceful revolution made its clear demands. And what have NATO leaders been doing to end the big HIRISE crimes? Other than killing ISIS not much!

Now having killed enough ISIS thugs Trump would like to take his troops and go home but his military advisors have told him that he actually has to go back in and so now the whole world hasn’t got a clue what will happen next. This is a very confusing period for anyone.

But the PKK ought to know that their old strategy is now in tatters, even if their western cheer squad has (as usual) no clue what is happening and wait to be told what to think. ISIS has worked out the same thing for its strategy, and Al Qaeda, who told them from the start that they would fail with their adventurous land grab strategy, can now shake their heads as they themselves go deeper underground to continue to hide among the good Muslims! That has always been their method for Syria and it is very sound. What the pseudo-left can’t deny is that there is such a thing as good Muslims and that they constitute the current majority in all the countries of the Middle East that is going to go through any democratic revolution. These good muslims must come to power from any such democratic process. So consequently there will be deep Islamofascist sleepers within these political formations. That really can’t be stopped and must be constantly countered. That is just how the world works. People very often pretend one thing and work towards another just look at al Sisi saluting his political leader not long before he staged a coup and arrested him!

The enemy fights back and that is why such a democratic revolution is protracted despite any wish that it were not so. They have often won in the past and will always have a fightback of some sort.

Now, what of the Turkish, Erdogan style Islamists? These people have waged a struggle for democracy against exactly the enemy coup type militarists etc., for decades. Just what are these Islamists up to?

They have to work to keep the good Muslims from further radicalising, while fully understanding that they are committed to Islamic norms; and that includes some notion of Jihad because that is the culture that they are in.

Now this is when it gets complicated and westerners have to look to what Erdogan has done at home as an indication of what his intentions are next door. He ordered the Army in for this 4th occasion and so that is now both a very big footprint of territory and a large army. The Turks have on every occasion they deployed made a great show of the number of troops being sent in! The great size of these deployments is almost right out there on full display. A bit like Mao along the lines of if you need 10 send 20 or 30 and quite unlike the Rumsfeld method. Not quite as plain, but for a keen observer like me something like the demonstrations breaking out in Lebanon that are now on show. Don’t go asking for proof that they are the biggest army, because it is just an assertion that I make with no intention of proving.

Rather than Erdogan, it is Putin who is the well-known liar that once even ½ fooled the ½ theorists that used to post their thinking about Syria at this site. They gave up posting about Syria and I gave up annoying them about their foolishness. But now Steve is making the assertion that the very big military forces commanded by Erdogan are in a coalition with Islamofascists. He wants me to ‘…recognise that Turkey and IS were in an informal alliance.’ He is asserting that perhaps the vilest style of Islamofascist that we have seen since well…ever really, and that is up against some stiff competition – and Erdogan are mates! This accusation is commonly made by ‘the usual suspects’ and to be expected even from the MSM and I have an answer.

We,that is everyone that has ever been positively contributing to this site have opposed such vile creatures that we term Islamofascists since well before 9/11. We have ALSO always stood up in opposition to all those pseudo-leftist ‘stop the war coalitions’ and all their ‘hands off’ and never unite lines. The track record is now over a very long time. All of us have supported armed revolution to overthrow oppressors.

I have always had consistent ‘rotten’ Maoist politics that are founded on support for the underlying democratic revolution. We have often argued that one can’t be a communist without first being a revolutionary democrat and I have never stopped learning about and thinking about Syria even though I haven’t posted much recently. From my studies, it is apparent that HIRISE is the issue the western world has to overcome in order to stop the crimes that Steve ought to call first line ‘stupid’, rather than focus on the second tier crimes that will eventuate even as we try our best to ensure they do not.

The second tier will nevertheless happen because there are weak link allies on the democrat side and also enemies concealed within. That is the nature of not just our war but all revolutionary war. What the Assad-HIRISE has been up to for all these years is not an accident and near miss collateral damage but targeted terror bombing. HIRISE is waging a terror war and driving off the Syrian people who wanted to live free of the current undemocratic tyranny. Refugees and Rubblestan were both obviously created as policy! The second tier crimes that happen from the democrats side are not in the interests of the Islamist democrat types that Erdogan has shown himself to be over decades of struggle. That is the answer.

Back in 2011 Syrian soldiers who would not fire on their own people formed the FSA and ran for their lives for the protection of the Turkish border and the other borders as well. But Turkey is where they are principally based. Then they started to fight back and that is why the animation looks as it does. The first green territory was very often right on the border. It was the ‘green team’ because it was never just soldiers that ran for their lives who formed the FSA and then fought back. It was the masses that came out from Friday prayers who were subsequently shot down in their peaceful demonstrations who formed the majority of those that fought back. They didn’t just accept orders from any FSA, composed as it was of former regime soldiers anyway! They stood up separately and made their own revolution. They have negotiated from their own POV and relative strength and not just accepted orders. Civil war complications from the very start were the reality for Syria and understood to be so from the very start of the resistance by any experienced western observer.

By 2019 however; through a protracted and massive struggle, Turkey has helped build (shelter, equip and train) a force with sufficient discipline that now has the ‘mass’ to pull in to its orbit many other smaller rebel groups as it goes forward under that Turkish protection with Turkish supplied arms etc.. This force is now called the Syrian National Army and that name spells out what it is designed to do in the future rather than what it is doing now.

What the SNA is doing now is taking shelter from HIRISE bombing under the protection of a massive mechanised army that is very capable of defeating the HIRISE professionals it faces off against. In reality, HIRISE is most assuredly battle-hardened but still not comparable to the fully integrated Turkish armed forces it faces. Turkey is a better fighting force in all respects in my opinion and no one ought to doubt, up to whatever task might come its way and also is strategically placed to quickly throw the Assad backing Syrian Arab Army (SAA) out of Aleppo for just one example of what it could do if all this goes pear-shaped.

Arthur has long held the Russion deployment in contempt and I have always agreed with that view in the strategic sense. A paper tiger that Mao depicts. Tactically though it is still a real tiger. But I don’t doubt this puffed up bunch of terror bombers will become that paper tiger and in the not too distant future.

The Syrian rebels that are going to defeat Putin were once mostly reluctant freedom fighters; they were mostly everyday Islamic believers who had no choice but to organise with the only people they could trust, and just as often could not trust – because Syria was a terror police state with spies and informants everywhere! As often as not trust could only be established when under fire when your real comrades are fighting for their lives with you. That is the reality of civil war generally. It is a universal truism that applies from Ireland to China and everywhere in between.

The conclusion is that people have to learn how to make a revolution on the job and with the raw materials that they have to hand and in Syria they have and are, learning the most with the Turkish government!

Erdogan knows he faces a facist warmongering coalition led not by Assad who he holds in obvious utter contempt, but now by Putin who is a puffed up fascist and not much more than a strategic incompetent destroying relations with all his neighbors in a vain attempt to turn back the clock to the old era of Russian superpower status. He is well overstretched and Turkey is just stepping up to its task and that task is to help the Syrian peoples make revolution against the Putin led HIRISE troops.

Over the last couple of weeks, this running away from artillery has been happening in an enclave in the Nth East of what used to be Syria. The media has presented this advance as an attack on the Kurds, but Erdogan has explained for years that this territory is run by the PKK, and the western world has long designated them as a terrorist organization – which the Turks have every right to protect themselves from and continue their war against.

The history of the PKK is not now at issue, nor the former practices of the Turkish terror regimes of the past.

Today the issues and solutions are not what they were when the PKK formed up to fight all those decades ago. The new reality must be correctly identified or the whole war will be misunderstood and progressive westerners will not know what is going to happen next.

For several years now this enclave has been colored yellow on maps and has been expanding. It is essentially controlled by the PKK, with only an SDF fig leaf for plausible denial. The Turkish government and Syrian National Army they back are not buying this cover story. This ‘Rojava’ had also contained 3 smaller Assad enclaves colored pink. The pink is now spreading and butting up against SNA green and there is shooting between them. So now, with the Turkish led action the whole enclave is ‘in play’, and there are currently reports of at least one small Russian force coming under direct fire, from which they withdrew and then told the world it never happened, but it was caught on film!

So what is likely to happen? Will Assad get back control of all this Yellow territory (including the oil) or will the Syrian National Army under the protective wing of the Turkish military steadily take over at least most of it and then another period of regrouping drag on?

These are fundamental questions. How will the democratic revolution make progress in Syria if Assad makes the gains that the HIRISE forces are currently enabling. Turkey is a democracy and so is led by a reasonably conservative islamist party. Almost every county in this region would be if the democratic revolution is underway to that stage 1 level, and that Steve is what I am advocating as a supporter of democratic revolution.

Fascists are making war and I really want to know how they are to be defeated by democrats.

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.

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