Turkish “lawmakers voted 507 to 19 to give Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan permission to order strategic strikes or large-scale invasions of Iraq for a one-year period,” the Washington Post reported.
The Turkish government’s ruse for war-making is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The PKK are separatist rebels, who’ve waged a decades-old campaign of terror against Turkey. Essentially, Turkey is threatening to visit on Iraqi Kurdistan what Israel had no right to inflict on Lebanon: Level the country and kill hundreds of innocent civilians for the actions of a few militants, acting in defiance of the central government.
But why now? Why would Turkey disturb the détente, and threaten to destabilize the only stable region in Iraq?
The Turks are cross with Congress, which had planned on scheduling a vote to recognize as genocide the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a century ago. Contemporary Turkey is to Armenians as the Institute for Historical Review is to Jews: Holocaust deniers. Even though support for the symbolic vote has waned in Washington, Ankara has recalled its ambassador and seized the opportunity to do what it’s clearly been itching to do since the Iraqi Kurds gained autonomy: cut them down to size. For some time now, Turkey has also been shelling Southern Kurdistan.
Iraqi Kurds have cause for concern. The Armenians are not the only ethnic group to have suffered at the hands of the Turks. Turkey has waged systematic ethnocide against its Kurdish population as well. Although it has lifted bans on speaking Kurdish and wearing the traditional garb, Turkey still prohibits other forms of cultural expression by Turkish Kurds.
The Turks are not the only power to use and abuse the Kurds. Many a creative post hoc argument has been concocted to justify the unnecessary war the United States waged on a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, was no threat to us, and was certainly no match for us.
One such argument for the invasion of Iraq utilized the Kurds. Flaunting sham sympathies, unapologetic war apologists resurrected, In 2003, the Halabja massacre of 1988, during which “Chemical Ali,” then governor of Northern Iraq, released lethal gases on a Kurdish town. Over 5,000 men, women and children perished.
The hell Hussein unleashed on Halabja formed part of the genocidal Anfal campaign he initiated against the Kurds. Aside from convicting the Kurds for supporting Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Hussein coveted the oil-rich land around Kirkuk occupied by the Kurds. The area is crucial to the Iraqi economy. The Kurds, moreover, are a non-Arabic, if Muslim, people. To an Arab, that’s almost as incriminating as being an infidel. Ask the decidedly non-Halal victims of the Janjaweed in Darfur about Arab chauvinism! Over a 100,000 Kurds lost their lives during the Anfal onslaught, as Saddam razed hamlets, slaughtered their inhabitants, and scattered the survivors throughout Iraq.
Bush boosters now habitually use the fate of the Kurds, in 1988, as an excuse for their illegitimate 2003 invasion of Iraq. But back when images of Kurdish corpses on the streets of Halabja reached the West, the US opted to sit on the sidelines. Worse still: the US succored Saddam at his most monstrous, providing him with chemical and biological precursors, pesticides and poisonous compounds to carry out his deeds.
Before Halabja, the US had abandoned the Kurds to Iraq’s mercies in a 1975 covert operation involving Iran. After Halabja, the US forsook the Kurds in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Kurdish militia, the brave Peshmergas, rose up against the Ba’ath government, only to be jilted by George the First.
The Kurds are the only sect in Iraq that has been consistently loyal to America—the Peshmergas assisted American forces in the north during the invasion. Not one American soldier has been killed in that region. Kurds are also the only group to have made good on their newly found freedom. Monocultural Iraqi Kurdistan is an oasis in the democratic desert that is Iraq, “where business is booming and Americans are beloved.”
“When visiting Kurdistan,” enthused the CBS’s 60 Minutes, “one can see nation-building wherever one looks—Kurds are building their country day by day. There are more cranes here than minarets and there’s a run on cement.” No wonder the constructive Kurds want nothing to do with the destructive Iraqi Arabs, who’ve persecuted them in years past and have now turned on one another.
The Prince of Darkness, aka Robert Novak, has divulged that Bush authorized “a covert operation of U.S. Special Forces to help the Turks neutralize the PKK.” The King of Darkness may be planning to sell the Kurds down the Tigris to pacify the Turks.
© 2007 By Ilana Mercer