Peace and stability in Turkey, Kurdistan, the Middle East and the wider world: a personal perspective on the events of the year just gone and prospects for the future.
By David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, 1 January 2015
Peace and stability in Turkey, in Kurdistan, in the Middle East and in the wider world might seem extremely precarious and elusive prospects in the light of the descent into chaos in Syria and Iraq witnessed in 2014, but there is never an option to entirely give up hope if you believe in life and it is a natural instinct for all living creatures to desire to continue to live in a state of comfort where basic wants for food, sustenance and love are satisfied. Thousands of years of human progress, enlightenment, ingenuity, creativity and inventiveness cannot simply be wiped out by the wars, wanton destruction and genocide endured in the recent period. It may seem that the world has entered a new dark age but the darkest forces that have emerged on the scene are being strenuously resisted and thus confidently we can predict that they can be eliminated by the forces of light and hope who are ultimately far stronger than their assailants for the simple reason that they offer greater prospects of a better life for more people. It is surely the shared values of socialism, cooperation, respect, tolerance, solidarity, that will continue to inspire and drive humanity forward creating a better world for men and women in equal measure. Harmony can assuredly triumph over discord through our combined human efforts. The alternative is simply too bleak to even imagine.
The year that has just run its course was one riven and scarred by major catastrophes which saw the emergence of a deadly force that appeared like a throwback to long gone dark times; this of course refers to ISIS which grew apparently overnight to threaten like a vicious beast prowling the Middle East devouring its prey. Its bloody orgy of head chopping, public executions, amputations, raping of girls, trading in human bodies and organs, sex slavery, destruction of ancient heritage, has utterly appalled human sensibilities, but nevertheless it still managed somehow to inspire disaffected youth from many alienated communities around the world. The group’s values and ideology if they can be dignified in such terms are nothing less than those of cave dwellers, its methods those of invading marauders. As a result of its brutish activities, human blood gushes forth in rivers and vast quantities not seen since the Crusades. The catalogue of atrocities will continue to grow in 2015 unless the forces of decent humanity combine determinedly to eliminate it. The big problem though is that many of those ostensibly ranged against ISIS, namely the imperial powers in the US-led Coalition, have a deeply flawed record of intervention in the region, to put it mildly, and that local progressive forces are divided and weak. Those forces that have stood out against the onslaught have shown exceptional courage: in this I mean the people of Kobane and the strategic brilliance of the Kurdish resistance. The Kurdish women who have taken up arms, throwing off archaic gender restrictions in the process, have inspired people everywhere by their courage and resilience.
It is however a glaring contradiction and increasing anomaly that one of the largest organisations of the Kurds, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is still deemed to be a terrorist group by Washington, Brussels and London; yet it is hard to believe that they can continue to contend that the main party resisting ISIS – which really does pose so unambiguously a terror threat – is placed on an equal footing and branded a terrorist too. Not only is this absurd, it actually impedes the struggle against ISIS. What is needed is a kind of popular front against ISIS which is a threat equivalent to that represented by the Nazis and fascism in Europe a generation ago. So it is high time for governments to act swiftly.
It is pertinent also to add that the ban on the PKK acts as an obstacle to the protracted peace process between Kurds and Turks as the AKP government in Turkey is able to filibuster and delay the onset genuine negotiations with Kurdish representatives using the ban as a convenient pretext. Only really substantial talks with the adoption of a truly transparent process and an agreed agenda of reform can heal the deeply embedded wounds and structural divisions in Turkey’s conflict ridden society. All encouragement should therefore be given to this process to ensure that it has a chance of success given that there are many vested interests who would love to see it all collapse and fail. They simply cannot be allowed to do that. The risks are too immense and the consequences appalling to contemplate for the country and region.
While priority number one must be to redouble the fight against ISIS, governments cannot be allowed to use the panic of the occasion to introduce more draconian anti-terror laws and impose new curbs on civil rights because these illiberal measures have undermined democracy and led to the growing alienation that has been exploited by groups like ISIS in the first place. In reality, ISIS is the aberrant creation of decades of meddlesome injustices and callous exploitative interventions. The by-product of a terrible history of imperialism has been the ever widening divisions between peoples which have bred racism and irrational hatreds. These hatreds in turn have been sustained by the attempt to control at all costs and secure a profoundly unjust world economic order irrespective of the suffering engendered around the world. It is hard to see that this can go on indefinitely but it is an intractable problem that cannot be easily dislodged. Something has got to give eventually before the world is brought to the brink of annihilation. For its adherents ISIS may represent a perverse form of resistance to Western indifference to injustice, but the shadowy organisation is easily able to become used as a tool manipulated to provoke even more chaos and divisions which act to strengthen that same unjust system it is supposedly doing battle against. The genuine resistance of course lies elsewhere.