Turkish troops out of Kurdistan!

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FRFI 175 October / November 2003

On 4 July, US troops detained some Turkish soldiers in Suleymaniya, a city in northern Iraq, opening a rift between old friends. The US raid targeted a building of the Turkman Front and a nearby Turkish government liaison office. 24 people were arrested, including 11 members of the Turkish Special Forces. US troops beat up the Special Forces soldiers when they tried to talk to them, put plastic bags over their heads, threw them into the street and then onto some trucks. The mighty Turkish army has never been humiliated like this before.

In reprisal for the detentions, Turkey shut the Habur frontier gate, the only crossing between Turkey and Iraq, to lorries carrying supply materials to US troops. It remained open to other traffic, such as lorries carrying United Nations humanitarian aid. The Turkish Special Force was on its way to assassinate the Kurdish Mayor in the oil rich city of Kirkuk and to bomb Iranian and Syrian interests in the region. The aim was to stir up the region as a pretext for sending more troops into south Kurdistan to pursue Turkish interests.

Turkey has enjoyed close ties with the US for a long time because of its geo-strategic importance in the Middle East. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Turkey was the only member of NATO in the region; afterwards it remained important because it borders Iraq. However, relations with the US deteriorated after the Turkish Parliament voted against allowing the deployment of 60,000 US troops within Turkey to invade Iraq. This was for fear that the outcome would have been independence for Kurds in northern Iraq. This would inevitably affect the 25 million Kurds who live on the other side of the border (in Turkey). Turkish fascism has always completely denied the existence of a Kurdish people, refusing even to recognise their language: it regards them as Turkish. It has never hesitated to endanger its relationship with imperialism if there has been a threat to its colonisation of Kurdistan.

However, more recently, there have been discussions between Turkey and the US about deploying up to 12,000 Turkish army conscripts in Iraq. Why has there been an apparent change of heart? The reason is straightforward. In return for despatching troops, Turkey is demanding that the US rid the mountains in the far north of Iraq of 5,000 Kurdish guerrillas. For now the US has turned down the deal because it still needs the Iraqi Kurds as allies to its invasion force. The US must avoid a war between Turkey and Kurdish liberation fighters.

Down with fascism!
Victory to Kurdistan!

Mehmet Tekin