Turkish state condemns Israel but attacks Kurds

Turkish state condemns Israel but attacks Kurds

As a result of the Israeli attack on the Flotilla to Gaza, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists and injuries to many more, there were protests throughout the region and the rest of world, and Turkish flags were carried alongside Palestinian flags as a symbol of resistance and freedom.

In the face of popular protests within Turkey itself, and needing to assuage the religious right, Turkey threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Israel. It had no choice, particularly if it is to assert itself as a regional power. Recently, as its applications to join the European Union have continually fallen on deaf ears, Turkey has reorientated itself, in terms of political alliances, towards Iran, Syria and further east.

However, it should be remembered that prior to the attacks, Turkey was one of the few Muslim countries with which Israel has had a strategic military relationship. In 2008 Turkey’s imports from Israel rose 36% to $1.4bn, with defence making up $850m of trade between the two countries.

While any isolation and pressure on the Zionist state is to be welcomed, this does not now mean that Turkey is capable of playing a progressive role within the Middle East, as its recent attacks on the Kurdish population following the local elections in June make abundantly clear. In the elections, the legal Kurdish organisation BDP (Party of Peace and Democracy) gained overwhelming support from the Kurdish population. Following this victory, a group of guerrillas from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) entered the region through the Iraqi border to a welcome by hundreds of thousands of people. One and a half million people attended a PKK rally in Diyarbakir. Turkey responded by arresting the Kurdish mayors, activists and children who attended the demonstrations up and down Kurdistan. 21 PKK fighters were killed in a fight along the border, their bodies dismembered and burned by Turkish soldiers.

Turkey has no right to give lectures on democracy while denying statehood and identity to the Kurdish people, who do not even have the right to education in their own language. Its condemnation of Israel’s action against the Flotilla was a necessary but opportunist step and should not be allowed to mask its own murderous operations against the Kurds.

Ertan Yeldiren

FRFI 216 August/September 2010

 

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