Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Once Again, the Kurdish People Are being Tossed Aside

The 40-60 million Kurds of the world have a simple dream: Independence. The history of the past century shows the Kurdish people regularly tossed aside, if not betrayed, by diplomacy and the Great Powers. The Turkish Sultans were a spent force before World War I. The Young Turks, Djemel Pasha, Enver Pasha, and Talaat Pasha, had seized control. They tossed out the existing sultan and replaced him with a figurehead. The Three Pashas made the disastrous decision to join the German side in the war. The Ottoman Empire, “The Sick Man of Europe,” which once spanned three continents, was shrinking for decades. It collapsed as the Ottomans were on the losing side in World War I. The victorious Allies agreed to carve up the Ottoman Empire. Even Turkey proper was to be cut into pieces. There was to be no Turkey! Greece was most avaricious and covetous against one of its historic enemies. Iraq, Lebanon, Syria emerged from the detritus of the Empire, but no Kurdistan.. The Ottomans may have been defeated, but not the Turkish people. They found a hero, Ataturk, and waged the successful Turkish War of Independence resulting in an independent Turkey, consisting of Thrace and Anatolia. Alas for the Kurds. The Allies agreed during the war to create an independent Kurdistan, carving comprising southwest Turkey, northern Iraq and Syria, and northwest Iran into Kurdistan. Ataturk’s victory in Turkey prevented the dismemberment of Turkey. There would be no independent Kurdistan. The Kurds unsuccessfully rebelled in 1925, 1930, and 1937-8. They were no match for Ataturk and the Turkey army. The Shah of Iran and Iraq engaged in a border dispute in 1970. The Shah with the backing of the United States encouraged the Iraqi Kurds to rebel against Iraq. The Kurds were supplied with arms and funds as they held their own against the larger Iraqi forces. Then in 1975 the Shah and Iraq reached a border agreement. The Kurds were abandoned, indeed betrayed, by the Shah and united States. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is famously known for a common quip he uttered after hearing of the Kurdish reaction to the “betrayal;“ Fuck the Kurds if they can’t take a joke.” Saddam Hussein retaliated against the Kurds, even using gas. The Allies, led by President George H. W. Bush, encouraged the people of Iraq to rebel against Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Saddam survived and he again struck out at the Kurds. The United States, which could have, but didn’t stop the Iraq attacks on the Kurds, stood by. Then came the quick ISIS conquest of much of Iraq and Turkey. The Kurds, the YPG fighters, provided the troops on the ground with United States backing to roll ISIS back into a small pocket in Syria. The Kurds currently occupy the historical Kurdish territories in Iraq and Syria, comprising half of the Kurdish lands. Turkish President Recip Erdogan is scared. He fears that the Kurdish enclaves in Iraq and Syria will form a safe haven and inspiration for the Turkish Kurds, the PKK (People’s Protection Units), fighting for independence in Turkey. Much of the area is leery of an independent Kurdistan. The Turks are using brutal, mostly unpublicized, tactics against the Turkish Kurds. President Erdogan said: “In the upcoming months, on the ground in Syria, we will follow a style of inclusion that eliminates both P.K.K.-Y.P.D. elements and remnants of Daesh. This should be known.” (Daesh is the Arab acronym and what President Obama referred to as ISIS.) The Kurds are threatening to release 1,000-2,000 captured ISIS fighters. President Erdogan made it clear; he intends to remove the Kurds from their base in Syria, seizing much of the Syrian oil fields in the process. The YPG has been protected to dare by 2,000 United States military soldiers in their territory. President trump announced a pullout of U.S. forces from Syria, thereby throwing the Kurds overboard, in essence betraying them – yet again. The presumption is that the Kurds will be no match for the Turkish planes, tanks, and artillery. If though the Kurds have a large stock of surface to air missiles and anti-tank weapons, it will be a very interesting, and bloody, contest. The Kurds are betrayed. Israel feels betrayed, and the Pentagon is apoplectic. Turkey’s Kurdish problem is of its own making. The Kurdish part of southeast Turkey was the historic Armenia. The Armenian Genocide created a vacuum in Southwest Turkey. The Kurds came down from the mountains and occupied the now virtually deserted lands. The Armenians were a peaceful people. The Kurds are fighters who yearn for independence.