This one is my column dated October 7, in TZ:
It is one of those “interesting” times, as the Chinese saying goes — indeed, so intense and worrisome that wherever one looks these days, one only sees trouble on the rise.
Celal Başlangıç is a colleague of mine who I have known for decades. He is one of the few real experts on the Kurdish issue, who has been following every development in the region since the early 1980s.
When President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a flash decided to discontinue the so-called “peace process” and the destructive violence flared up again, Başlangıç was on the field as a witness to all the events taking place.
Most recently, Başlangıç was busy following a European parliamentary delegation, whose attempts to enter the Kurdish town of Nusaybin were blocked by the Turkish authorities.
Here is how he described it:
”Everybody was a witness. It was as if a ‘theatre of horror’ was touring the region. It staged the same savage and bloody play in Cizre, Nusaybin, Bismil, Silvan and Varto. The other towns in the region anxiously wait and wonder when the ‘theatre of horror’ will visit them. There is a huge psychological warfare inherent in this play. Dead bodies dragged behind vehicles belonging to the special ops teams… The corpse of a female guerilla, who after being tortured, thrown out onto the street stark naked, whose pictures were later served into the social media… As we saw in Silvan, a 75-year-old woman killed by snipers while trying to help a wounded person… Locals in towns with populations of 100 or 150,000 kept inside their homes, without water or food, medicine or doctors, constantly fired at… After being witness to all of that, I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say: The AKP wants to drive all the Kurds to madness!”
These are the descriptions largely ignored by Turkey’s mainstream media, and all the others reporting on the horror do so at the risk of being declared as aiding and abetting terrorists. Yet, it comes to nobody’s mind to ask whether or not an election under those circumstances will bear any meaning at all for the continuity of what many daydreamers still want to see as “Turkish democracy.”
This completely erratic, self-destructive policy has taken the official Turkish mindset hostage and threatens to diminish all sorts of options for success in the envisaged warfare against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well.
”Turkey, which turned itself into a jihadi freeway in its determination to bring down the Assads,” reminded David Gardner in the Financial Times, “has in practice boiled down its Syria policy to a single issue: how to stop Syrian Kurds capturing more territory along its southern border.”
Patrick Cockburn, also agreeing in assessing all the risks inherent in this officially obsessive mindset, wrote in The Independent:
”Whatever Turkey’s intentions in Syria since the start of the uprising in 2011, it was not to see the Syrian Kurds gain control of a band of territory across its southern frontier. A Turkish ground invasion into Syria, though still a possibility, would now be riskier with Russian aircraft operating in areas where Turkey would be most likely to launch an incursion.’
”The danger for the Turks is that they now have two Kurdish quasi-states, one in Syria and one in Iraq, immediately to the south. Worse, the Syrian-Kurdish one, known to Kurds as Rojava, is run by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is effectively the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984. Any insurgency by the PKK in Kurdish areas in south-east Turkey in future will be strengthened by the fact that the PKK has a de facto state of its own.”
Now, with the entry of Russia as an antagonist, Turkey’s “zero problem neighborhood policy” is facing its final test, predicted already as a failure, to be buried for good.
Dialogue with most of the neighbors is either minimal or non-existent. With Iran recently and now Russia joining the non-friendly bulk around, one wonders if any of Turkey’s allies are aware what sort of consequences await an increasingly vulnerable, rudderless Turkey if hostilities escalate to new heights in the entire region.