Friday, July 25, 2008

Footnote to the preceding, Lest We Forget Div.

(Cross-posted from Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time.)

Turkish officials stated that their warplanes bombed 13 "rebel targets" in northern Iraq on Wednesday, AP reported.

Turkey has conducted frequent air raids on suspected positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq. Earlier this year, it also launched a weeklong ground offensive there. ...

The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1984. The violence has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

The rebels use bases in Iraq as a staging ground for cross-border attacks on Turkish targets.

The military said it was determined to press ahead with anti-rebel operations both inside Turkey and across the border in Iraq "according to military needs."
It needs to be mentioned here that Turkey's battle with the PKK is largely of its own making, having viciously repressed the Kurds, who make up nearly 20% of Turkey's population, in the wake of the 1980 military coup - even for eight years banning the use of the Kurdish language in an effort to deny their cultural identity, an effort which continues today.

The result, almost a predictable one, has been to create a new, more radicalized generation, "the children of serhildan," (intifada, uprising) in the words of anthropologist Hisyar Ozsoy. It's a generation raised in poverty and schooled on
endless tales of family and friends burnt out of their villages in the hills and decanted into the slums of [the eastern city of] Diyarbakir
as part of a deliberate scorched earth policy undertaken by the Turkish military during an intense period of fighting in the early 1990s. A generation more prepared for more violence than their elders. A generation created by war whose existence promises more of it.

This is by no means to say the PKK is innocent; it has in years past been willing to kill those it regarded as "traitors" and has attacked civilians. Still, beyond a few examples such as suspected PKK bombing in Ankara in May 2007, actual cases of attacks on civilians as opposed to military targets and armed police have proved hard to come by, and most of the sources for those were Turkish, which necessarily raises issues of possible bias.

But again, this is not to say the PKK is innocent. It is, however, to say that if Turkey really wants to solve its "Kurdish problem" rather than, as it has in the past, temporarily suppress it, it will need to learn, as governments over history have learned, that "what goes around, comes around," and dropping bombs in not the way to do it. A. J. Muste was much closer to the mark:

"There is no way to peace - peace is the way."

Footnote to the Footnote: The US, among others, regards the PKK as a terrorist organization. According to Seymour Hersh, however, that has not kept the US and Israel from
working together in support of a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan. The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran, I was told by a government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon civilian leadership, as “part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.”
The Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK,
emerged this decade as an Iranian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK....

Former members say PEJAK was meant to circumvent Western restrictions on contacts with the PKK, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union.
Both the US and Israel deny any support for PEJAK, but given the choice between the US government, the Israeli government, and Seymour Hersh, I damn well know which one I trust.