REJOINDER to the Turkish Ambassador's response to “Erdogan's war and US myopia”
This is in response to the honourable Turkish Ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu's rejoinder (August 4, 2015) to my op-ed, "Erdogan's war and US myopia" (TDS, August 3, 2015). I find the rejoinder full of unsubstantiated and indefensible assertions. I cannot agree with him that my article "carries a number of false accusations as well as baseless propositions."
I find his portrayal of the Turkey/Iraq-based PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) as a "terrorist organisation" very gratuitous. While the whole world knows the PKK has been striving for preserving the cultural identity, political rights, and the rights of self-determination of the marginalised and stateless Kurdish minorities in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, the honourable Ambassador seems to be in a state of denial.
We know the Anglo-French colonial rulers, soon after the end of World War I, drastically changed the political geography of the entire region from North Africa to the Middle East. While they divided various Ottoman Turk provinces among themselves – Britain got Iraq, Palestine and Jordan; and France got Syria and Lebanon – Kurdistan somehow got divided into four parts among Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
Although the Kurds represent around 25 percent of the population in post-World War I Turkey, because of the Turkish government policies, the Kurds in Turkey until 2006, officially were not known as Kurds but as "Mountain Turks"; and there was no government-run schools with Kurdish as the medium of instruction. The Turkish government did not even allow playing Kurdish music on government run radio and television. The state-sponsored policies against the Kurds led to decades-long Kurdish resistance against the Turkish government, and the PKK played an important role in this resistance, often by violent means.
By only highlighting PKK's violent attacks on pipelines, railways, and electricity infrastructure in Turkey, he has justified attacking PKK targets as "an obligation". No platitude could be more superfluous and trite than the Ambassador's assumption that: "A terrorist organisation cannot be cleared from its terrorist nature, just because it is fighting another terrorist organisation."
It is difficult to accept Ambassador Müftüoğlu's assertion that Turkey has never been a safe haven for the ISIS. We all know how ISIS fighters (men and women) from various countries, including Bangladesh, used to enter Syria through Turkey to further destabilise Syria and the adjoining sub-regions, till the recent past. In view of this, it is not at all convincing that the ISIS has any reason to attack Turkey.
As I have argued in my posting, the PKK is the main bulwark against the ISIS marauders in northern Iraq. Thus, Turkey's attacking the PKK strongholds in northern Iraq is tantamount to helping the ISIS. It is simply unbelievable that Turkey, in the name of fighting the ISIS, is actually determined to destroy PKK strongholds in northern Iraq with a view to neutralising its counterparts in Turkey. I strongly believe the role of Turkey to contain and crush the ISIS has been counterproductive.
The writer teaches security studies at Austin Peay State University. Sage has recently published his latest book, Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year War Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.