Thursday, October 06, 2011

Turkish Parliament votes for more bombings, more war

Throughout most of the Iraq War, the Turkish military has bombed northern Iraq. The latest wave of attacks began August 17th. For years now, the Turkish government has decided that's the way to handle a problem they created through their own actions of suppression, discrimination and violence. The PKK is one of many Kurdish groups which supports and fights for a Kurdish homeland. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described them in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk." The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been a concern to Turkey because they fear that if it ever moves from semi-autonomous to fully independent -- such as if Iraq was to break up into three regions -- then that would encourage the Kurdish population in Turkey. For that reason, Turkey is overly interested in all things Iraq. So much so that they signed an agreement with the US government in 2007 to share intelligence which the Turkish military has been using when launching bomb raids. However, this has not prevented the loss of civilian life in northern Iraq. Aaron Hess noted, "The Turkish establishment sees growing Kurdish power in Iraq as one step down the road to a mass separatist movement of Kurds within Turkey itself, fighting to unify a greater Kurdistan. In late October 2007, Turkey's daily newspaper Hurriyet accused the prime minister of the KRG, Massoud Barzani, of turning the 'Kurdish dream' into a 'Turkish nightmare'."

So year after year, the Turkish military terrorizes northern Iraq residents -- farmers, shepherds, villagers -- so they can tear up the countryside with bombs, leaving craters everywhere. This wave is displacing the region more than previous waves and turning many residents into refugees. In addition, though the Turkish government attempts to deny it to this day, the bombings in this wave have also resulted in many deaths of non-PKK.

Some had hoped that a break -- not an end -- might be in sight because the measure approving the latest wave would expire at the start of this month. Yesterday the vote on whether to extend the motion or not took place. Goksel Bozkurt (Hurriyet Daily News) reports:

The BDP, Turkey's biggest Kurdish political force, voiced harsh objections to the move, sparking heated exchanges in Parliament.
BDP deputy group chairman Hasip Kaplan called the vote "a declaration of war," while fellow lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder said four major cross-border operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the 1990s had proved the futility of military action.
Rhetoric on the other side ran high as well. Mehmet Şandır of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, said the state was taking measures "against terrorists shedding blood." MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli called for an immediate ground incursion "to destroy the murderers in their dens," during remarks in the southern province of Osmaniye earlier Wednesday.

Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert (CNN) report something gas bags on the issue should pay attention to but won't. The PKK is one of many groups. Stop saying every act taking place was the PKK. One attack last month was even claimed by another group (as AP reported in real time -- as only AP reported in real time) but gas bags in the US have continued to inist it was PKK. (Watson and Comert, "Last month, at least three people were killed by an explosion in the heart of the Turkish capital, Ankara. A Kurdish rebel splinter group later claimed responsibility for the attack.") The motion was renewed by the Turkish Parliament so the bombings continue. Fazel Hawramy (Guardian) observes:

In recent months, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been given a hero's welcome in the Middle East for standing up for the rights of downtrodden Arab people and promoting Turkish democracy as a model for Arab societies.

Back home, the civil rights of 20 million Kurds in Turkey have been gradually eroded. The EU acknowledges this is "a serious cause for concern" in a country where more than 3,000 Kurdish activists are in detention. The EU has called on Turkey this week to bring its justice system into line with international standards and amend its anti-terrorism legislation.

On Tuesday, under the same anti-terrorism legislation, more than 120 members of the BDP, including the party's deputy leader, were arrested.

So sensitive is Turkey to anyone acknowledging the plight of the Kurds that the novelist and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk was charged and tried for "public denigration of Turkish identity", after mentioning in a 2005 interview that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it".

The following community sites -- plus and Iraq Veterans Against the War -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Dave Hyland's "Tony Blair cashes in on the Iraq War" (WSWS):

Channel Four’s Dispatches documentary, “The Wonderful World of Tony Blair”, is a devastating exposé of the lavish life-style enjoyed by Blair, who has amassed more money since leaving office than any other former British prime minister.

Aired September 26, the documentary was the result of efforts by Peter Oborne—a journalist for the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail and Telegraph—to uncover the source of Blair’s wealth since he was forced to resign as Labour leader and prime minister in 2007.

Getting exact details of Blair’s wealth and business dealings was extremely difficult, Oborne said. But public speaking engagements alone had brought in £9 million for Blair, who was paid £240,000 for a single speech in China. In addition, just seven months after leaving office, Blair was hired as an advisor to the investment firm J.P. Morgan bank, for which he is paid £2 million per year, and has a number of other lucrative contracts.

Tony Blair Associates (TBA), an international consultancy set up by Blair with significant dealings in the Middle East, is calculated to have earned £13.8 million in three years.

The same day he left Downing Street, Blair was made envoy to the “Quartet”—the United Nations, United States, European Union, and Russia—supposedly tasked with “fostering peace between Israel and Palestine”. While this job is unpaid, it enjoys “substantial expenses” Oborne said, and is part-funded by British taxpayers.

In sum, Blair has lucrative contracts in the Middle East, while advising a major US bank with interests in the region. On the one hand, the former prime minister claims to be a man of “peace”, but on the other he is receiving millions from “one of the major autocracies in the region,” Dispatches charged. Oborne noted that, in Britain, the invasion of Iraq was the most “controversial act” of Blair’s premiership but it was excellent news for Kuwait. Blair enjoys much prestige in the country, which he regularly visits.

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