Kurdish women with photo of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan
The Turkish state constantly declares its objection against the Kurds in Rojava, Syria, under the pretext of the "affiliation" between the People's and Women's Defence Units (YPG/YPJ) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). However, a brief overview of Turkish officials' statements and behavior in a certain span of time might reveal a new understanding.
On 27 January 2015, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated: "Turkey won't allow the establishment of any kind of Kurdish entity in northern Syria like it did in northern Iraq, this error won't be repeated again." This proclamation came at a time Erdogan was deeply involved in the 'solution process' with the PKK and had very good military, political and most importantly economic relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
In September 2014, Turkey not only turned a blind eye to the Islamic State's comprehensive assault on Kobane, but also facilitated the attack through its border for groups of IS fighters to penetrate into the city. Not to mention that Ankara during the attack on Kobane expressed its satisfaction with the reasoning that the YPG/YPJ are actually the PKK, which is in itself a terrible pretext for allowing IS to Turkey's borders.
During the cease-fire with the PKK - a gain of the 'solution process' between 2013 and summer 2015 - Turkey, according to reports and solid evidence, transferred its fight against Kurds in Turkey (Northern Kurdistan) into Rojava. Apart from helping the IS group by facilitating the movement of foreign fighters into Syria Turkey also bought crude oil from the terrorist organisation and provided them with different types of weapons and missiles, including sophisticated ones in order to cease Kurdish advancement in the north of Syria (Western Kurdistan).
These examples in the past two years can be multiplied to include incidents throughout the history of the Turkish state, including before the PKK was even formed. Think of 1925 Sheikh Said or 1938 Dersim. In other words Turkey has been fighting the Kurds and trying to destroy Kurdish ambitions since the establishment of the Turkish state in 1923. Therefore the PKK isn't the reason behind this war and the discourse of hatred against Kurds, but is just a by-product of the historical accumulation. Fighting the PKK by escalating the situation in Syria and trying to export an internal question into Syria will only complicate the situation; the more Ankara will try to go inside Syria, the more serious its dilemma will be.
Turkey should try to find new means - other than war - to approach the Kurds, especially after the Kurdish administration in Syria took some steps to mitigate the ties with Ankara through announcing that they aren't an offshoot of the PKK. The Rojava administration is ready to cooperate with Turkey on the basis of mutual understanding and respect with the aim of fighting IS. A new phase characterised by good relations can begin to revive the peace process. This process will not only help Turkey overcome the increasing political isolation it faces today but also help its economy recover and pave the way for an end to the decades-war between the Kurds and the Turkish state.
- Qusay Sheikho
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