A Turkish Schizophrenia

May 26, 2010

The people in Iraqi Kurdistan lost count of the times that Turkey and Iran, “in pursuit of PKK or PEJAK fighters”, bombed their villages and areas.
Every few weeks, we hear news of Turkish aircraft bombing border areas and Iranian artillery shelling the other side.
Hours later, we hear a few Kurdish condemnations, nothing from Baghdad or any other capital. A day later, we see many villagers whose homes were destroyed telling horror stories of the bombardment.
All of this happens and hardly any PKK or PEJAK casualty is reported.
The recent Turkish bombing and Iranian shelling of border areas of Iraqi Kurdistan is another episode in this endless soap opera.
This and the silence of Baghdad and other capitals should present an opportunity for the Kurdish leadership to review their policy and act accordingly towards their friends and foes.
While we hear the news of an intense debate inside Turkey on the role of the military and constitutional reforms, we see no reflection of that on the ground here. Especially, since most of the debate is sparked by the Kurdish issue and the “situation in northern Iraq”.
With all the talk of reforms and openness in Turkey, one would expect that these attacks be stopped. But they say one thing and do the other.
This clearly indicates that there are two Turkeys; one in Ankara and one on the border.
One that sends its ambassador to the president of the region and invites him to Ankara and another that bombs his region and probably still considers him a terrorist or at least a friend of them!
One that sends business people and another that sends soldiers.
This Turkish schizophrenia towards Kurdistan must stop. Turkey’s strength in the region is that it endeavors to be a democratic model in the Middle East. Their talk of openness and reform is setting Turkey in that direction.
Turkey’s regional peacemaking efforts, in conflicts that are not that different from that of its own, are also an indication of their will to assume a strong regional role.
Their behavior on the Iraqi border makes them no different to Iran, who is a master of saying one thing and doing the other.
Turkey must decide if this is a model they want to follow.
The grounds for putting an end to this issue are there.
The Kurds consistently say that they genuinely want to be friends with Turkey.
As a result, they say that they respect international borders and will not allow any attacks on Turkey, or Iran, from their land.
They have offered in the past the presence of observers along the border. This offer still stands.
While all of these offers are there, the Kurds say that in return Turkey should stop these futile attacks and incursions and act in accordance with the rhetoric used inside Turkey.
The Kurds also wonder if Turkey and Iran are testing the viability of the Iraqi state by these attacks.
This question should be answered by Baghdad and namely by the non-Kurdish political blocs who are now vying for power.
The blocs’ response to these attacks could be a decisive factor in who the Kurds should support in forming the government.
A Kurdish observer said that “we still remember the loud noise made by all when Iran seized the Fakka oil fields in the south of Iraq, where are these voices today?”
With every new attack, the people of Kurdistan are getting more and more convinced that the target of these operations is not the PKK or PEJAK. It is them and the rest who are supposed to be allies are watching.

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