Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Sorrows And Tears
By now you've probably seen that things are heating up again on the Turkish border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Fifteen Turkish soldiers were just killed by PKK militants, and the Turkish cabinet just gave the green light for "legal, economic and political preparations... including if necessary a cross-border operation" to end the PKK's presence in Iraq.
One of the problems with picking up a story mid-stream -- and Turkey has been battling PKK militants for 23 years -- is that it's easy to fall prey to the dominant narrative. And a lot of this sabre-rattling has always seemed to be for Turkish domestic consumption.So I thought I'd cite this passage written by Ilnur Cevik, a Turkish opinion columnist writing in The New Anatolian:
We call these people terrorists and we are frowned upon if we do not do so. However, it is time we all realized the facts and lived with realities instead of nationalist cliches.
What the PKK does in our cities is an act of terrorism. On Monday a bomb went off in Istanbul injuring five people. Recently two bombs went off in Izmir killing one student and injuring several people. This is an act of terrorism and it is most probably performed by the PKK terrorist organization militants.
However, what we see in eastern and southeastern Turkey is not terrorism. It is clearly some form of warfare which should be taken seriously and which should not be regarded as an act of terrorism.
If the PKK can roam around and survive for all these months in these areas which are supposed to be high security zones with such ease then they are getting help from some local people.
Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug has already admitted that the authorities have failed in preventing PKK recruiting from the local people... Why is this so?
It is time to look for solutions beyond the current military means. We have to reduce the PKK into a terrorist organization that has no local support.
To do this we first have to understand the needs and wishes of the people of southeastern Turkey. The area needs bread. People are feeling the pressures of poverty. There are no jobs and no means to sustain a family...
The reason why PKK can enlist people is not really because of Kurdish nationalist sentiments. The PKK recruits poor and hungry youths who do not see any future for themselves. There are also those who are fed up being pushed around by the authorities because everyone in the region is regarded a PKK sympathizer...
This is the puzzle our leaders have to solve. Or else will (sic) face more sorrows and tears.
Of course, one of the problems with citing foreign opinion writers you've just read for the first time is that you might be sending the Turkish equivalent of a Friedman Unit out through the tubes. But what the hell. It adds a little perspective.