Right after the 11 September attack on the US, Turkey demanded that the Turkish Kurds led by the PKK, (nowadays called KADEK, that is, "Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan") not be spared from the Western campaign against "terrorism" under article 5 of the NATO constitution and did not fail to point out that all human rights violations it had been mildly and hypocritically reproached for in the past could now be regarded as retrospectively legitimized. (2) In the days following the 11 September attack, Mesut Yilmaz, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of the ANAP, ("Motherland Party") the main pro-European party stated:
Right after the events of 11 September, Turkish ruling classes offered their services to the US imperialists for the pacification of Afghanistan. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit declared the US aggression against Afghanistan as an "operation launched... in the interests of all humanity" and stated that Turkey was ready to provide military support. In a letter to USA President Bush on September 22nd, Ecevit confirmed that:
Expecting a fierce and dogged resistance from the Taleban and concerned over the prospect of the broadening of the US "war on terrorism" to Iraq, Turkish generals were sounding a cautious note at the beginning of the Afghan operation. They were especially alarmed by American intentions to topple the bloodthirsty Baath regime, which could trigger the break up of Iraq and bring on "dangerous consequences for the security of Turkey." So, on September 27th, General Hurshit Tolon, head of the Aegean Army cautioned that:
The first factor is the economic crisis Turkey is passing through and her financial bankruptcy, which makes it extremely vulnerable to US pressure exercised through the IMF as well as its even heavier dependence on the US (and to a lesser extent on EU countries and Israel) both for her ambitious weapons acquisition plans and maintenance of its bulky military-bureaucratic apparatus.
Therefore, on the eve of his visit to Washington in January 2002, Prime Minister Ecevit was sounding a somewhat different note:
The second factor is related to the strategic orientation of Turkish reactionaries to further extend their already considerable ties and influence in Caucasia and Central Asia and therefore play a greater role in the American grand strategy of dominating Eurasia. A Turkish daily discussing the dispatch of Turkish troops to Afghanistan referred to Ecevit:
After deliberations, hesitations and haggling beginning in February 2002 and lasting several months, Turkish military sent a 270-strong contingent to the troubled country to form part of the ISAF, the task of which was essentially to act, together with American Special Forces, as the bodyguard of US-puppet Hamit Karzai and his "government." In June 2002, Turkey took over the command of the ISAF from the British and gradually increased the number of is troops from 270 to 1400.
Here, it is necessary to remind the reader, that the collapse of the reactionary Taleban regime, cannot be taken to mean the end of Afghan people's resistance to US-led occupation. Notwithstanding the exhaustion of the people and devastation of the country as a result of nearly 25 years of incessant wars, economic breakdown and semi-hunger, notwithstanding the vicious bombardment of US imperialists that began on October 7th, 2001, the support of the so-called Northern Alliance forces for the foreign invaders and the presence of tens of thousands of foreign troops etc., -- true to their historical traditions, Afghan people have not capitulated and will not do so.
Several armed confrontations, as well as the recent wailing of US and British imperialists' about the "ongoing insecurity and growth of banditry" and their proposals to broaden the mandate of the ISAF to other cities, than Kabul, testifies to the fact that the Afghan resistance is far from over and will probably continue and strengthen in the near future. The 5 September attempt to assassinate the puppet president Hamit Karzai and the explosion in Kabul killing around 25 people and wounding 150 the same day, only confirm what has been said above. The Turkish fascists, as well as their American bosses shall have to live through the experience of the British colonialists in the second half of the 19th and that of the Russian social-imperialists in the second half of the 20th century: It is relatively easy to enter Afghanistan; but it is very difficult to get out.
These aims of the Turkish ruling class can be summarized as follows:
On October 14th, 1998, Strobe Talbott, US Deputy Secretary of State made a speech at The Washington Institute For Near East Policy. After praising "farsightedness" and "devotion to the Western values" of the pro-US late Turkish president Turgut Ozal to the skies, he related to the audience, the interview he had made with the former World Bank functionary back in 1991:
This was mainly
due to a relative weakening of the economic and military position
of its neighbors and the collapse of Soviet social-imperialism.
While Iran and Iraq, Turkey's two powerful neighbors, exhausted
themselves through the First Gulf War of 1980-88, Russian imperialists
were fighting a losing war in Afghanistan, which would contribute
to the weakening and final demise of the New Tsars. Despite its difficulties,
the Turkish economy grew substantially during the 1980s and 1990s. Between
1980 and 1997 Turkish GDP rose from 58 billion to 187 billion US dollars,
while Turkey's exports rose from 2.9 billion to 26.8 billion US dollars.
This translated into the expansion and modernization of the Turkish armed forces. Between 1985 and 1995 military expenditures of Turkey rose -in constant 1995 dollars- from 3.1 billion to 6.6 billion US dollars. During the same period, military expenditure of NATO countries declined or remained steady. Between 1985 and 1995, total NATO figures declined from 560 billion to 470 billion US dollars. The upward trend in Turkish military expenditures has continued in the post-1995 period, despite the growing difficulties facing the economy since 1997 and the onset of an economic crisis at the end of 2000. The Turkish military has begun a massive modernization project, which was expected to cost over 30 billion US dollars, between 2000-2008.
Roughly from the beginning of the 1990s, both in the Middle East and Caucasia/Central Asia, Turkey embarked on a more "active" and aggressive policy and assumed an important role in the "New Great Game" to dominate the heart of Eurasia. It actively supported the aggression of US-led coalition during the Second Gulf War of 1991 against Iraq, without contributing troops; it supported the anti-Iraqi "Operation Provide Comfort" (later called "Operation Northern Watch"), supposedly to protect the Kurdish people from the atrocities of Iraqi fascists, contributed to the enforcement of "no-fly zone" in Southern Kurdistan and has hosted American and British planes which have been bombing Iraqi civilian and military targets for the last 12 years. Since 1993, Turkish troops participated in numerous so-called peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Bosnia, Albania, Georgia, Al-Khalil (Hebron), Kuwait, Kosovo, Macedonia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Now, let's take a closer look at two most important regions, where Turkish big bourgeoisie focuses its interest and attention.
Throughout 1970s and 1980s, though not enthusiastically, Turkey had been traditionally backing the Palestine Liberation Organisation PLO and trying not to offend the Arab world. However, prompted by US imperialists, Turkish reactionaries had also been maintaining a somewhat low-keyed, but systematic relation with Israel, especially in the field of intelligence. Indeed, until the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979, there existed a close cooperation between the intelligence organizations of Turkey, Israel and Iran, the three main props of US influence in the Middle East.
After the military coup in September 1980, for different reasons (to counter the widespread influence of revolutionary ideas among the masses, to undermine the appeal of the PKK among the Kurdish people, to upgrade its economic relations with Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, to adjust its position internationally towards US-sponsored reactionary Islamism and to counter its isolation from the Western European countries) it had to underline and strengthen its important economic, political and cultural ties to the Arab world. This trend would inevitably have its influence on Turkish-Israeli relations, which were downgraded to the level consistent with only a second secretary. However, relations between two pro-US and reactionary states did continue.
In 1989, Turkey was among the first states to recognize the declaration of statehood of Palestine.
After the signing of the Oslo agreement in September 1993, the first ever Turkish foreign ministerial visit to Israel took place. Since then, Turkish-Israeli relations have grown by leaps and bounds. Several high-level visits of military and civilian officials, including those of prime ministers, foreign ministers and chiefs of staff have taken place. In 1996 Turkey and Israel signed three major agreements. The first was a military training and cooperation agreement, the second a defense industrial cooperation agreement and the third a free trade agreement. Notwithstanding the unpopularity of the rapprochement with the Zionist state, especially in the face of the vicious repression carried out in Palestine, the main body of Turkish ruling classes do not show any sign of backtracking. On the contrary, in the climate of post-11 September world, where counter-revolutionary initiative of imperialism has acquired an anti-Islamic and pseudo-secularist tinge, Turkish-Israeli cooperation seems to be hardening even further.
The very significant role US imperialists have played in this event, however, cannot be overlooked. They have always been very much concerned with the security of their Zionist satellite and shall remain so in the foreseeable future. It would, of course, be simplistic to explain the drawing closer of Turkey and Israel only or even mainly by the influence of Washington. Both these countries do have pretensions to become and/or remain important regional powers. Both have been isolated to a certain extent in their region, due to their aggressive policies, not only against the Kurdish and Palestinian peoples, but against the Arab peoples in general. Under these circumstances, it is not unnatural to see Turkish fascists and Israeli Zionists having significant expectations from an increased cooperation.
Here it should be noted that, the growing decay of the pro-imperialist ruling cliques in Arab countries, which has led to a general stagnation of the Arab world and the relative decline in the energy dependence of major countries on Arab oil (and hence the lessening of the role of the OPEC), has further facilitated the realization of Turkish-Israeli rapprochement.
The rise of tensions between Turkey and Iran, recognized by Israel as a strategic threat, has contributed to this process as well. The victory of the Islamic revolution of 1979, the message of militant Islam emanating from this country, which has had some effect in Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s, stirring of national consciousness among the sizable Azeri minority in Iran after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ongoing competition between these two countries to gain influence in Central Asia etc. have helped US imperialists and Israeli Zionists to push the Turkish ruling classes towards a more anti-Iranian position.
Despite the deepening of their isolation from the Arab and the wider Islamic world, Turkish ruling classes have reaped some dividends from their cooperation with the Zionist state. In October 1998, they have been able to demand and secure the expulsion of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK from Syria through military threat and massing of their troops on the common border. (The Syrian reactionaries would not have complied with the demands of their Turkish counterparts, had it not been for the indirect threat posed by the Israeli-Turkish alliance.) They have also been able to modernize part of their military equipment with the help of sophisticated Israeli military expertise and technology. Turkish reactionaries also hope to obtain the support of powerful Jewish lobbies in the US, to neutralize the influence of Greek and Armenian lobbies (for the purpose of easing the pressure on Turkey with regard to the ongoing occupation of Cyprus and the issue of Armenian genocide), to embellish their brutal and tarnished image and to facilitate the flow of arms to their overgrown armed forces.
The support of these Zionist institutions, however, is conditional upon the behavior of Turkish fascists vis-a-vis Israel and it definitely comes at a price.
One section of the Turkish ruling classes had always nurtured a traditional reactionary-romantic attachment to the so-called Central Asian origins of the Turkish nation and had dreamed of founding a Turan, a pan-Turkic empire extending from Anatolia in the west to Western China in the east and comprising all Turkic peoples. Such Turanist or pan-Turkist ideas, initially arose during the first decade of the 20th century, as an expression of the ideology of new-born Turkish nationalism. Prior to the World War I, this reactionary-romantic ideology was approved and supported by German imperialists, who were for the re-partitioning of the colonies in general and undermining British (and French) influence in particular. Enver Pasha, Turkish commander-in-chief and strongman, who was instrumental in the participation of the dying Ottoman Empire in the World War I side by side with Imperial Germany, was himself guided by such adventurist dreams. After the defeat of Turkey in the war, this war criminal died in Turkestan fighting the Bolsheviks for the same cause. Nazi Germany too encouraged pan-Turkist ideas and policies to a certain extent before and during the World War II, especially with an eye to the dismemberment of the Soviet Union.
The US imperialists took over the tradition of fostering pan-Turkic tendencies from Imperial and Nazi Germany and tried to utilize it during the "Cold War", with the aim of destabilizing the Soviet Union. Turkish fascists working hand in glove with US intelligence agencies, were advocating "the liberation of the enslaved Turkic peoples" and the re-establishment of Turan. This ultra-reactionary nostalgia trumpeted for decades by only a small part of the Turkish establishment was once again revived at the beginning of the 1990s and gained wide recognition, though in a much more diluted form. With the beginning of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to prattle about the emerging "Turkic world extending from the Adriatic Sea to the Chinese Wall" became a fashion among bourgeois politicians. Even before the formal disintegration of the revisionist Soviet empire, Turkey had recognized all the former Turkic republics that had declared their independence.
Now, however, pan-Turkism had to shed its extreme and nostalgic aspects and acquire a much more pragmatic content and form. Turkey, especially took care to constructing its own ties to Turkic republics by establishing air routes from Istanbul, beaming television broadcasts to the region, initiating an annual Turkic summit, opening tens of schools and mosques in the region, providing thousands of students with scholarships, training Central Asian and Azeri diplomats and bureaucrats, promoting commercial relations, starting military training programs and siding with Azerbaijan in its dispute and war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish reactionaries also tried to meddle with the internal affairs of former Turkic republics and influence the home and foreign policies of these states. They were even known to have gone so far as getting involved in coup attempts (particularly in Azerbaijan in March 1995 and in Uzbekistan in February 1999) in the region.
There is another important reason for Turkish ruling classes to fix their greedy gaze on the Caucasus and Central Asia. The region is known to be rich in petroleum and natural gas and Turkish reactionaries have been imploring their Azeri "brothers" to support their bid for the infamous Baku-Jeyhan, or rather Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan pipeline. However, it is the big oil companies and the US government, who have the last say in deciding whether this or that pipeline shall be preferred. And it is here, that conflicting interests of various states and oil giants, shifts in the policy of the US, as well as the factors of cost and security play their role. Despite several pledges made by members of Clinton administration and by Clinton himself in the past, there has been no real and significant progress on the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan line, which apart from its prohibitively high cost, presents security problems due to its course traversing Chechnya and Northern Kurdistan. (6)
Apart from these two vital regions, throughout the 1990s and later, Turkey has been quite active in the Balkans as well. Turkey established close relations with almost all states of former Yugoslavia, especially with Bosnia-Herzegovina, which they supported during the civil war both for home and foreign policy purposes and with Macedonia. Turkey has contributed to the military training of Albanian forces and taken part in the KFOR (Kosovo Stabilization Force). Upon Turkish initiative, in September 1998, several Balkan states set up a Balkan Peacekeeping Force, which may be deployed in NATO operations. This force is the first regional military formation to comprise both the NATO and former Warsaw Pact members. Turkey has also eagerly supported the eastward expansion of the NATO.
However, Turkey itself seems to be experiencing the growing tensions within the structure of the NATO and the Western alliance. These tensions overlap with the frictions between Turkish ruling classes and imperialist system in general. Now, let's take a look at one aspect of this problem.
do the Turkish ruling classes stand in this equation?
There is no simple answer to this question. However, despite existing numerous and growing economic, political, and military, not to mention historical and cultural ties drawing Turkey nearer to Europe, Turkish ruling classes feel alienated from Europe for several reasons. Yet more than 50 percent of the foreign trade of Turkey is with Western Europe; Turkish big business has very close and extensive relations with European monopolies and TUSIAD, the association of big employers, has been long advocating and striving for Turkey's membership in the EU.
Part of the problem is related to Greek-Turkish tensions, which put further obstacles in the way of Turkish membership in the EU. Turkey has been tenaciously maintaining its occupation of northern Cyprus and supporting the internationally unrecognized puppet-state ("Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus") through the presence of more than 30,000 Turkish troops there. The accession of the Republic of Cyprus (of Greek Cypriots) to the EU in 2004, will leave Turkey in the position of an invader of part of the territory of the EU.
On the other hand, siding with the US, Turkey has been blocking the way forward for the European army, the so-called Rapid Reaction Force. European imperialists have been for Turkey's participation at the force; but not for its taking part in the decision making mechanism of the European army in general, since Turkey is not a EU member. They are concerned about Turkey acting as a Trojan horse for the US and import a further element of chaos and discord into the emerging European superpower. American insistence and pressure over Turkey's accession into the EU, only helps to increase these concerns.
Then there are several other factors, which would make the integration of Turkey into Europe very difficult. Among these are, the decisive role of the military in the structure of the state, economic backwardness of the country compared to Europe, lack of basic democratic rights in Turkey, including the absence of the national rights of the Kurdish people. These factors contribute to Europe's anxiety over the difficult problem of assimilating a 70 million-strong country, with a culturally different and rapidly growing population.
Over the last year the Turkish parliament has amended several articles of the Constitution, which was the handiwork of generals in the wake of the September 1980 coup d'etat; it also has enacted some harmonization laws in August 2002, in the hope of obtaining a date from Brussels to begin accession negotiations. Among them are the lifting of death penalty, except in time of war, legalization of Kurdish language broadcasts and education and reduction of restrictions on the freedom of assembly. And even these extremely limited reforms have been enacted in the face of strong opposition from the MHP and some sections of the military. It is obvious that they will drag their feet in implementing even these very limited steps. They are known to have signed several international conventions, which they do not apply. Both the deep roots of political reaction and the present atmosphere of "war on terrorism" shall combine to ensure the cosmetic character of these so-called democratic steps. In any case, EU imperialists themselves are in no hurry to open the doors of Europe to Turkish reactionaries.
Since 1996 Turkey is in the European Customs Union and is therefore bound to open its markets to EU produce like any full EU member. Yet it does not receive any of the subsidies the poorer members of the EU receive. Moreover, it does not benefit from external trade deals of the EU with other countries, such as the US or North African countries. Western European monopolies have greatly benefited from the entry of Turkey into the Customs Union without becoming a member of the EU. Since 1996, Turkey has run a growing deficit in its foreign trade with Europe. Taking advantage of the weakness of the Turkish Lira and the last economic crisis, several European monopoly firms have dug their claws even more deeply into the Turkish economy. Hundreds of Turkish firms have been sold to foreign (mostly European) monopolies and foreign firms have increased their shares in joint enterprises.
Understandably, the EU imperialists, who are not very much united on this issue, (as they are not over many others!) do not feel they need to shoulder the burdens and complications a full membership of Turkey would bring. On the other hand, they do not want to alienate the Turkish ruling classes and definitely do not want to see a Turkey totally subject to US dictates either. Therefore, they are vacillating, trying to buy time and in the meantime, striving to furnish pretexts to keep Turkey at an arm's length, without disrupting their economic and military ties to them.
The Turkish reactionaries and especially the Turkish military, deeply suspicious of European intentions have been disposed to force their way into the EU. They've been trying to use the so-called geopolitical importance of their country and the real and assumed value EU imperialists attribute to the "services" Turkish armed forces may provide them. Therefore, they've been and still are very reluctant to meet the political criteria for EU membership and even have tried to portray demands to realize those criteria as an attempt to meddle into the internal affairs of Turkey. (7) The reaction of Major General Tunjer Kilinch in March 2002, who is the Secretary-General of the National Security Council, the real center of power, reflected, though in a somewhat exaggerated style, the feeling of wide sections of the Turkish ruling classes. After listening to an anti-EU speech at Ankara's War Academy, he said:
If one leaves aside the Eastern or Iranian Kurdistan, the land of approximately 30 million-strong Kurdish people has been divided, since the demise of the Ottoman Empire after the World War I, between Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The majority of Kurds, probably more than 15 millions, reside in Turkey, mostly in the Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia, that is Northern Kurdistan.
With the defeat of Iraq in 1991 by the US-led imperialist coalition, Washington had imposed two so-called "safe havens" or "no-fly zones" in the North and South of the country, through a UN decision, Taken with the connivance of other imperialist powers, this decision has effectively banned the Iraqi state from exercising its authority in these two zones; that is it has openly denied and violated Iraq's sovereignty over part of its territory.
So, since the end of the war or rather since 1992, two internationally unrecognized Kurdish statelets have come into existence in Southern Kurdistan. One of these statelets is led by Massoud Barzani of the PDK ("Kurdistan Democratic Party") and the other is led by Jalal Talabani of the YNK ("Patriotic Union of Kurdistan").
Neither the PDK, not the YNK are modern bourgeois parties; rather they can be described as "parties" based on the semi-feudal authority of warlords and represent the traditional leaderships of different and often feuding clans and tribes, who speak different dialects of the Kurdish language. Officially, these two "parties" have all along been rejecting the break-up of the Iraqi state and demanding autonomy inside the borders of "a democratic and federal Iraq"; citing the unfavorable balance of forces as a reason, they both have rejected the right of Kurdish nation to secede and form an independent state.
Reflecting the demands and aspirations of semi-feudal Kurdish landlords and bourgeoisie, rather than those of workers and peasants, these "parties" have almost incessantly fought against each other. Furthermore, largely, with the instigation of the Turkish military, they have fought against PKK forces, which since the 1980s and especially in the wake of the start of guerilla warfare in Turkish (that is, Northern) Kurdistan in 1984 have been taking refuge in Southern Kurdistan and have some bases and mass support there. (8)
More than 3,000 people are thought to have died during the PDK-YNK infighting between 1993 and 1997 and thousands more in the attacks on PKK fighters and sympathizers during the 1980s and 1990s. The constantly shifting alliances of the PDK and YNK have made them "comrades-in-arms" with Turkey, Iran, Iraq, the US and Britain and at times even with the PKK! In 1998, there were further clashes, when YNK and PKK forces attacked PDK territory. After some initial success, the YNK received an ultimatum from the Turkish army, which had been in alliance with the PDK. (At the moment however, there is a PDK-PKK rapprochement in Southern Kurdistan.) In 1998, the two parties concluded a cease-fire and an agreement was reached in Washington, under the auspices of US imperialists.
Since then there has existed an uneasy peace between the two parties, which have blamed each other for the stalled normalization talks, which are supposed to lead to a reunified Kurdistan. For the time being, there are two statelets led by Barzani and Talabani, each with its own army, intelligence service, government and flag!
Apart from the incessant warfare between Barzani and Talabani factions, which came to an end in 1998, this zone has also been the scene of imperialist and reactionary intrigues, where intelligence agencies of several countries and hundreds of so-called NGO’s operate, allegedly to provide "humanitarian assistance" to the Iraqi Kurds.
At the moment, the PDK and YNK rightfully fear the negative consequences of a possible American-Turkish action against Iraq and therefore are vacillating.
They know that, whatever the result of such an operation, it will greatly endanger their own position because, it will bring death and destruction to peoples of Iraq, including Kurdish people, encourage permanent Turkish occupation of at least part of their territory and lead to the radicalization of the Kurdish masses.
Therefore, the PDK and YNK want international guarantees to join the war on the side of the US. Apart from being manipulated and repressed by Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian ruling classes, they have been repeatedly betrayed by US imperialists. They, especially are anxious about a possible Iraqi reprisal, as well as the aggression of Turkish expansionists
In the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, the PDK led by Molla Mustafa Barzani, father of Massoud, was fighting the Iraqi government. The PDK, which was the only significant force in Iraqi Kurdistan at the time, had the support of Shah Pahlavi's Iran and that of the CIA. The latter supplied military aid to Kurds in the hope of weakening the left nationalist Baath regime, with close ties to the Soviet Union. However, when, Iraq and Iran came to an agreement in March 1975 at an OPEC meeting in Algiers, with the approval of the US, American and Iranian military aid to the PDK came to an abrupt end and Iranian fascists closed the borders.
The Kurdish fighters were left to fend for themselves in the face of the advancing Iraqi army. More than 20,000 Kurdish fighters and civilians and around 7,000 Iraqi soldiers are estimated to have lost their lives during the ensuing clashes and around 600,000 Kurds became refugees. Despite desperate appeals by Kurds, the US refused to intercede with the Shah, prompting Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's infamous, but typical expression that "covert action should not be mistaken for missionary work." Molla Mustafa was forced to flee to the US, where he died in 1979. In a letter he wrote to then-President Carter in early 1977 the ailing leader said:
So, the Kurds (and Shiites) were once again left in the lurch and made victims of imperialist manauvers. In the end Bush Sr. and Co. did not let their old friend and lackey Saddam Hussein down. The uprisings were crushed. Fearing a chemical attack, similar to the one that happened in 1988 at Halabjah, more than one million Kurds fled to Turkey and Iran.
And yet, at this moment we are witnessing another alliance between the Kurdish factions (not excluding the PKK/KADEK) and the US, or rather the subjection of the former to American strategy.
Cooperation of this or that particular Kurdish faction with the US for the dismemberment of Iraq would not only be unacceptable in principle; it would be a very short-sided act from the point of view of the true interests of the Kurdish people as a whole. Whatever the results of the present US campaign, this would further strain the relations between Arab and Kurdish peoples, who shall be seen as "American outposts". It would render an alliance of the just struggles of Palestinian and Kurdish peoples, much more difficult. In the present circumstances of the US-led imperialist crusade against Islamic peoples, Kurdish people cannot risk being portrayed as part of an "imperialist-Zionist campaign to weaken the Arab nation". As to the US or international "guarantees", they have never been worth the paper they are written on anyway.
International guarantees cannot help Kurdish people or any other oppressed nation. As the historical experience has abundantly shown, only through an alliance of workers and toilers of the oppressed and oppressing nations and through relying on the masses, under the leadership of the revolutionary vanguard of the working class, can oppressed nations realize their democratic and national aspirations.
If the PDK and YNK leaderships continue to tread the treacherous road of alliance with or rather servility to imperialism, they will lead their nation once more to a defeat, calamity and massacre.
As the Iraqi operation approaches, the relations of the Turkish militarists with PDK and YNK too, get more tense.
Aware of the presence of Turkish troops on their territory and of Turkish aims, Barzani and Talabani have begun to voice their concerns more loudly than ever. They, rightfully, are worried about Turkish aims to annex part of Northern Iraq on the pretext of supporting the US drive to overthrow the Saddam Hussein clique. Recently Massoud Barzani has openly warned Ankara of the undesirable consequences of a Turkish military action against Southern Kurdistan in case of a US operation and has criticized Turkish expansionists over their intentions to seize Kurdish lands and especially oil-rich Kirkuk province, presently under Iraqi jurisdiction.
In an interview he gave to German journal Die Zeit, on September 5th, 2002, Barzani was asked about their position over Kirkuk and Turkey's antagonism to the possible emergence of a Kurdish state. He said:
Marxist-Leninists and all consistent democrats are against the interference of the imperialist powers in the internal affairs of other and weaker countries and entirely reject their attempts at changing the regimes and frontiers of these countries, under the pretext of assisting oppressed nations or minorities. They oppose the ongoing criminal trade embargo and imposition of so-called no-fly zones on Iraq and the bombing of this country by the US and British bandits with impunity. They also oppose the dispatch of the UN weapons inspectors and definitely reject all US plans to attack Iraq, break it up, depose its government and install a puppet regime there.
On the other hand, they defend the right of long-suffering Kurdish nation to self-determination, that is the right of Kurdish people to secede from Iraq, Turkey etc. and to establish their own state. They can never approve or legitimize the brutal and bloodthirsty military-fascist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein clique and former Iraqi governments, which have systematically oppressed Kurdish people and other minorities. Nor can they defend the immutability of the frontiers of states based on national oppression, such as Iraq and Turkey, on the pretext of struggle against imperialism led by American neo-fascists. Lenin said:
The only truly and consistent democratic solution to the Kurdish and Iraqi questions is through the advance of the independent struggle of Kurdish, Arabic, Shiite, Turkoman etc. workers and toilers not only against Saddam Hussein fascist clique, but also against the US and other imperialists, Turkish expansionists etc. This is the only way, to foil the war plans of US imperialists and ensure the success of the national and social liberation struggles of workers and toilers of all nationalities. This is also the only way, to truly defend the sovereignty of Iraq in the face of imperialist aggression and to contribute to the struggles of workers and peoples of the world against world finance capital led by Yankee imperialists. Neither thugs like Saddam Hussein, who have served imperialist powers for decades, nor reactionary semi-feudal warlords, such as Barzani and Talabani can acomplish this task.
After the loss of the Mosul and Kirkuk provinces during the World War I, it was initially in 1987 and 1988, that is, towards the end of the eight-year long war between Iran and Iraq, that there was some talk in Ankara of regaining "the lost territories," on the pretext of saving the Turkomans. The Turkomans are a Turkic people who reside mostly in and around the predominantly Kurdish Kirkuk and Mosul provinces in the north of Iraq. At present, they are estimated to comprise less than 5 percent of Iraq's total 24 million population, while Kurds comprise about 20 percent.
The war had exhausted both countries and Iraq seemed in no position to be able to stop a Turkish incursion into the oil-rich region. But, the internal conditions of Turkey, (a conjuncture of rising working class and Kurdish national struggle and lack of military and psychological readiness on the part of the ruling classes) as well as the balance of forces in the region (ongoing existence of the Soviet Union as a superpower and its alliance with Iraq and Syria and possible Arab reaction) did not allow the realization of such an aggressive move.
During the Second Gulf War of 1991, a section of Turkish ruling classes led by the then-president Turgut Ozal were once again devising plans to incorporate Northern Iraq into a greater Turkey and in the meantime grant a limited autonomy to both Northern and Southern Kurds. Through this initiative, the Ozal clique expected to weaken the appeal of the militant Kurdish insurgency led by the PKK, reduce Turkey's dependence on foreign energy resources and project Turkey as a powerful regional state. This adventurist posture was supported and probably inspired by a section of the American establishment. However, at the time, the main body of the Turkish ruling classes was against pursuing such an adventurist line, due to the insurmountable difficulties and uncertainties it involved.
The annexation of Northern Iraq or part of it would have increased the military burden of Turkish armed forces, raised the tension in the region and placed Turkey on a collision course, not only with Iraq, but with the Arab world and Iran as well; yet without necessarily ensuring the loyalty of Kurdish people in view of the fact that, at the time, the PKK was conducting a successful guerilla warfare against Turkish forces. Again, such a move carried the additional risk of heightening the already high level of militancy of the Turkish workers, further sharpening the contradictions between the working class and other toilers and the fascist dictatorship of the ruling classes and moreover further worsening the already not very good relations with the EU, heighten the already great dependence of Turkey on the US. (12)
So, it was rejected and shelved for the moment.
This same scenario was revived by US imperialists some time after the events of 11 September. In an article published in New York Times, William Safire, reflecting the opinions of the more aggressive sections of US finance capital, argued for Turkish annexation of Southern Kurdistan. There, the writer, had an imaginary conversation with the late US president Richard Nixon, who was made to say this ‘converstaion’:
As the American neo-fascists get ready to play the "Turkish card", Turkish fascists following on the footsteps of their bosses get ready to play the "Turkoman card."
On August 26th, 2002, Turkish press reported about a statement made by the Turkoman Front, with regard to the military preparations involving the Turkoman minority. The statement asserted that, as of January 2002, the Turkoman minority had decided to arm and form a 10,000-strong force to protect their people from the encroachments of the PDK forces led by Barzani. While there may be some truth in this allegation and conceding the right of Turkoman minority de defend their national and democratic rights, it is obvious that Turkish reactionaries are instrumental in the taking of this step. And they are doing it as a preparation for the break up and Balkanization of Iraq. Of course, they don't lack "historical" arguments to back their case.
His statement came as a response to a question about the alleged plans by the PDK and YNK running Northern Iraq, to extend their control over regions of oil-rich Mosul and Kirkuk, that are mainly populated by Kurds, but also have a Turkoman minority as well. Referring to the presence of Turkomans in this region, Chakmakoglu went so far as describing Mosul and Kirkuk, as "Turkish soil!" He conveniently forgot the fact that, neither over 400 years of Ottoman domination of the region, nor the existence of a Turkoman minority there was sufficient to make it "Turkish soil".
After the defeat of the Iraq by US-led imperialist coalition in 1991, the Turkish ruling classes had established fresh ties with the Turkoman minority, which had suffered under various Iraqi governments and had been a target of their Arabization efforts. By this time, the Turkish fascists have strengthened these ties and have tried to manipulate Turkomans for their expansionist purposes. Ankara has also tried to use these increased ties to counter-balance the activities and influence of the PKK, PDK and YNK.
As has been discussed above, the Turkish ruling classes have for years been reiterating their commitment to the inviolability of the borders of Iraq and voicing their concerns over the "destabilizing" effects an American attempt to topple the bloodthirsty Saddam Hussein clique would have. They still do that. They have also been loudly complaining for years about their financial losses amounting to tens of billions dollars since the beginning of US-inspired UN embargo on Iraq. However, the main concern of the Turkish fascists, still, is the possible dangers they would face as a result of the formation of an internationally recognized Kurdish state; this definitely would rekindle the very alive national aspirations of nearly 15 million Kurds in Turkish (that is, Northern) Kurdistan. Here we also find an area of clash of interests between Turkey and the US, as Alan Makovsky says:
The relatively easy victory they won in this war, as a result of the shameful capitulation of PKK leadership and especially of Abdullah Ocalan has enhanced their self-confidence somewhat and whetted their appetite. (16).
Coupled with their strengthened military posture, partly due to their strategic alliance with Israel and the ongoing uncertainty and instability in Iraq, Turkish militarists have readjusted their traditional stance.
Convinced of the determination of American neo-fascists to topple Saddam Hussein and to redesign the map of Iraq, they are getting ready to join the feast and grab a few slices for themselves.
Apart from these concerns and anxieties, Turkish bandits are also concerned over and need to neutralize the discontent of workers and toilers, who are in no mood to support an American aggression against a fellow Muslim people and country. So, the Turkish hyena tries to play the role of the lamb, to the world. While getting ready for the feast, the ruling classes do not neglect to continue to voice their "disapproval" of such an operation. They are aware of the fact that, a US aggression against Iraq will still further raise the already heightened tension throughout the country, which has been rising due to the growing poverty of the masses, their anger at the discredited reactionary Ankara regime, manifold degeneration of the public life and massacres perpetrated against Palestinian people. But, in the end, despite expressing their reservations with regard to US plans to attack Iraq and their vacillations as to the possible consequences of such an action, they have long been getting ready for such an eventuality.
In his article, Ferruh Demirmen pointed out the vacillations of Turkish expansionists:
Their problem was not restricted with the risk of the emergence of a Kurdish entity in Southern Kurdistan and the prospect of the renewal of the 15 year-old guerilla warfare in Northern Kurdistan. The already battered Turkish economy would badly suffer as a result of the war. Apart from the financial burden of conducting such a war and maintaining tens of thousands of troops in Northern Iraq, Turkey would have to forsake its expectations to reopen the Kirkuk-Yumutalik pipeline, which had been closed since 1991 as a result of the UN embargo and would have to forget restarting the cross-border trade. Turkey could also be deprived of the illegal flow of oil from Iraq, which is far from insignificant. (18)
Moreover, Turkey's efforts for the restoration of quite important Turkish-Iraqi trade and economic relations would come to naught; the multi-billion dollar Turkish tourism sector, playing a vital role in the maintenance of the faltering Turkish economy would be dealt a mortal blow and foreign investors would be discouraged. (19) Last, but not least, Turkish reactionaries are afraid of a new wave of Kurdish war refugees, which could contribute to the "deterioration of security situation" in Northern Kurdistan.
However, despite the great the economic and financial problems they would face as a result of such an American aggression, these do not constitute the main worry of Turkish ruling classes; they are still mainly concerned about the negative political repercussions of such a war, which, from a Turkish perspective may last years and even decades.
Their experience tells them that, they cannot bear the revival of a united, militant and much more powerful Kurdish national movement based in both Northern and Southern Kurdistan and its fallout on the rest of the country, where the suppressed discontent and anger of workers and toilers can explode any moment.
Moreover, such a war would lead to the worsening of the already not very good relations of Turkey with the Arab and the wider Islamic world, as well as with the EU; Turkish ruling classes would become even more isolated especially in view of the growing opposition and resistance against US imperialism in general and American designs over Iraq in particular.
In fact, the Turkish reactionaries want to have the best of both worlds. On the one hand, they continue to exchange delegations with Iraq, maintain their relations with the Baghdad butchers, try to broker a solution between Iraq and the US and try to induce the former to accept the return of UN weapons inspectors. On the other hand, they already take part in the war of aggression against Iraq and get ready to extract some territorial gains from the break-up of that country.
"We don't want to come into disagreement with the US, but we also do not want war in our region."
Provided that their concerns are addressed and their interests are taken into account.
US imperialists seem to have promised Turkish reactionaries that;
Anyway, the Turkish preparations for a war of aggression are going on at full speed.
At the beginning of August 2002, Turkish press reported about a plan Turkish General Staff had presented to the Prime Minister, where different eventualities with regard to an American operation against Iraq had been taken into account. According to the plan, with the start of the hostilities Turkish military would move 80,000 troops into Northern Iraq and invade an at least 40 km wide territory. The plan concedes the fact that thousands of Turkish troops have already been stationed in Southern Kurdistan for the last five years. Turkish General Staff also concedes the fact that they have tank formations in the region to prevent PKK/KADEK guerillas from assembling.
On August 8th, 2002 Turkish daily Hurriyet too, reported the presence of about 5,000 Turkish crack troops in Northern Iraq. The daily reported that these troops had long been working in coordination with US special forces, in the region; they had recently carried out an attack on Bamerni airport and captured it after defeating the Iraqi forces there. In the meantime, US and British warplanes had been hitting some targets in Northern and Southern Iraq. This means only one thing: the war has already begun.
This has been one of the cornerstones of US imperialist policy in the post-1991 war period.
In fact, for several years Washington had been following a policy of "dual containment", which entailed the subjugation of both Iraq and Iran to Yankee rule. This policy was expected to increase the control of US imperialists over the oil and natural gas resources of the region on the one hand and strengthen the position and security of their Zionist clients, armed with all sorts of "weapons of mass destruction", including nuclear bombs on the other.
After the failure of the short-lived joint PDK-YNK government, that was founded in 1992, there existed a chaotic situation in Southern Kurdistan. This was a period of intense and regular Turkish military incursions against the forces and bases of the PKK, which had grown to become a real threat to Turkish colonialists. This period was also characterized by the greater penetration of the region by Turkish, Iranian, Israeli and Iraqi intelligence services, INC elements, as well as American and British intelligence operatives, some of whom were there under the cover of NGOs on humanitarian missions.
Southern Kurdistan was the only place in Iraq, where the opponents of Saddam Hussein could organize and operate with a measure of freedom.
In 1996, an attempt at insurrection by the CIA-led Iraqi National Congress was crushed by the Iraqi authorities, with the open support of Barzani faction and the tacit approval of Turkish reactionaries. In the event, Iraqi forces had succeeded in entering the city of Erbil, in violation of the UN-imposed ban, executing around 100 local CIA agents and detaining and punishing hundreds them. Thousands of such local CIA agents had to be evacuated through Turkey. The US could do nothing but to launch a couple of Cruise and Tomahawk missiles at some Iraqi military installations to the south of Baghdad to avenge its tactical defeat.
In October 1998, the US Congress passed the "the Iraq Liberation Act", and allocated 97 million US dollars to the training of anti-Baath guerrilla groups. However, despite regular bombing of Iraqi targets and continuation of a barbaric embargo, amounting to a silent genocide, US imperialists could not make any real headway in overthrowing the Iraqi government.
These plans have been revived with the more aggressive stance, the US neo-fascists have adopted in the wake of the events of 11 September. (20)
George W. Bush, in a sense, reiterated his commitment to the policy of "dual containment" in his speech, when he characterized Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "Axis of Evil". Bush and Co. have openly advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein regime (and of all regimes not to their liking for that matter) in open violation of bourgeois international law and the Charter of the United Nations. (21)
Around that time, US imperialists had begun to concentrate their forces for an attack on Iraq. Eric Schmitt and James Dao, two New York Times reporters summarized the state of American preparation in an article in February:
According to Israeli sources, in Southern Kurdistan, US army engineers have been building airstrips for warplanes and helicopters for months. The US Special Forces there, are training and equipping Kurdish militias, as well as those of Turkoman militias, with the support of Turkish forces.
They have wider aims, which contrary to the conventional wisdom, cannot be described as the special policy of a particular US administration, or worse still, special policies in line with the interests of this or that sector of US business, such as oil companies; despite differences with regard to the details and secondary directions of their policies, all sections of US finance capital are agreed on the domination of Eurasia and the world.
To ensure the implementation of their counter-revolutionary aims, they have to or rather feel themselves compelled to frighten workers, toilers and all revolutionary forces into submission. (23) They also feel themselves compelled to threaten other imperialist powers, including potential candidates for superpower status. That's the reason why, they accuse all who are not with them of being "against them", charge around like a wounded bull and get ready to apply even greater white terror all over the world. Needless to tell, all these counter-revolutionary strategies and tactics will not be sufficient to save either US imperialism in particular and/or world capitalism in general. What the whole world is compelled to see more and more clearly, after the events of 11 September, is the utter decay and degeneration of US finance capital and entirely reactionary class nature of its general policy.
More clarity means fewer illusions, which definitely helps and will help the workers and toilers the world over to better perceive capitalism and imperialism. And that in turn will facilitate the organization of workers and toilers along revolutionary lines and under the banner of Marxism-Leninism.
Control over energy resources is a very important component of this "New Great Game", through which the US plans to gain further competitive edge over its imperialist rivals, such as the EU, Japan, China and Russia, to prevent them from achieving superpower status or form alliances against Washington in the hope of counterbalancing the sole superpower and thus perpetuate its dominant position.
In fact, the US had made its strategic aims public, in a Pentagon document, released on May 30th, 2000, that is more than 15 months before the events of 11 September.
In this document referred to as "Joint Vision 2020", a US Department of "Defense" plan, the earlier version of which was prepared more than eight years ago, it is explicitly stated that the strategic aim of the US is "full-spectrum dominance."
One can see nothing surprising here provided that he/she knows the basics of Marxism-Leninism and Leninist theory over imperialism and is informed of the historical experience of the US. Reflecting the true face of imperialism, the above-mentioned document states:
There is another major reason for the concentration of US land, air and naval forces in and around the Middle East and Central Asia: Washington neo-fascists are anxious and frightened over the prospect of the growing resistance of the workers and toilers of this vast region to the overt and covert American aggression; a resistance which is in its initial stages yet.
If they, together with their allies and lackeys cannot cope with the struggle of Palestinian and Afghan peoples today, despite the absence of truly revolutionary leadership of the working class in these countries, how will they manage to hold the line, when the whole region will explode in a series of uprisings, guerilla warfare, strikes and other mass actions?
Tactically, US imperialists are strong. They possess a formidable range of weapons and the strongest armed forces the world has ever seen. That, however, will not be sufficient for the preservation of the degenerate capitalist-imperialist system based on exploitation and oppression. They are surrounded with the growing rage, anger and resistance of the workers and peoples of the world, at the forefront of which stand the workers and peoples in Arab and Islamic countries. (26) And where do Kurdish and Turkish workers and toilers stand in this gigantic struggle?
Now, I shall take a very brief look at the situation in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan before I finish this paper.
This foreign policy is naturally, an extension of their pro-imperialist, reactionary, chauvinist and anti-popular home policy. We cannot, however, forget the fact that, countries such as Turkey, do not and cannot conduct their (home or) foreign policies in isolation from the wider world. They all constitute a link in the imperialist chain, which has been binding them to international finance capital even more tightly with the spread of neo-liberal policies and growth of the power of transnational monopolies. Therefore, apart from the home policies and relative economic and military strength of such countries, the needs of imperialist powers and inter-imperialist correlation of forces as well, do play their part in the formation and direction of their foreign policies.
A cursory look at the state of affairs in Turkey might shed some light on the factors which drive Turkish ruling classes to follow a more aggressive foreign policy.
According to official statistics, at the end of July 2002, Turkey's debts totalled 204.4 billion US dollars; this figure included an internal debt burden of 86.9 billion dollars and an external debt burden of 117.5 billion dollars. As of the end of the 2001, the sum total of Turkish debt was about 135 percent of the country's GDP, whereas the ratio of total external debt to the GDP was around 77.6 percent. The budget is almost entirely devoted to paying Turkey's debt service. The total amount of tax revenue is not sufficient to cover the debt service.
It is the workers and toilers who bear the burden of enormous debts acquired by Turkish big bourgeoisie and the state apparatus.
According to the data provided by the World Bank, at the end of 2000, Turkey had the 22nd biggest economy among 207 countries. One year later, Turkey fell to the 27th place; in 2001, Turkish economy shrank by 10 percent and GDP dropped from 200 billion US dollars in 2000, to 148 billion US dollars in 2001. In the meantime, national income per capita receded from around 3000 US dollars to 2160 US dollars. If one also takes into account the abyss between poorer and richer classes of the society with regard to the distribution of national income, one can understand the grim situation under which workers and toilers have been obliged to live.
The purchasing power of the ordinary people has receded more than 50 percent since the beginning of the last economic crisis in November 2000.
In a country of nearly 70 million, about 30 percent of the workforce is estimated to be unemployed, while the great majority of those employed have to be content with meager wages and with almost no job security. (The minimum monthly wage in Turkey is about 100 US dollars.) More than 2 million workers are estimated to have lost their jobs since the beginning of the November economic crisis. Several tens of thousands, if not more, small traders and handicraftsmen had to close their shops and workplaces and join the industrial reserve army. The overall situation has greatly exacerbated class contradictions and increased tensions in the country.
In June 2001, the National Security Council, the real source of power, which is dominated by leading generals, presented a secret report at a meeting. According to Istanbul newspapers, the paper warned that the growing impoverishment of the broad strata of the population would lead to a 'social explosion.'
The Turkish generals are aware of the increasing frustration and anger of the masses. They know that, this frustration and anger is further exacerbated by the sense of national humiliation the masses of people feel as a result of the capitulation of the government and almost all political parties to the dictates of international capital and its instruments, the IMF and the World Bank. Further worrying the generals, is the known complicity of the ruling classes with the aggression Israeli Zionists on Palestinian people and of US imperialists on Afghan and other Islamic peoples.
It is under these circumstances, that the Turkish establishment tries to deflect the discontent of the masses by inciting reactionary nationalism and chauvinism and lulling them with dreams of military glory and expansionism.
Since the general elections of April 1999, Turkey is being governed by a three party coalition led by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's DSP ("Democratic Left Party"). This is a party, which despite its pretensions to social democracy, is a nationalist reactionary and expansionist party. The second party is, Devlet Bahceli's MHP ("Nationalist Action Party"), a classical fascist party, whose hands are stained with the blood of tens of thousands of Kurdish and Turkish revolutionary and progressive people, a party in opposition to even the most cursory and hypocritical attempts at democratic reform. The third party is Mesut Yilmaz's ANAP, which at the moment reflects the views of pro-EU sections of the big bourgeoisie. ANAP poses as a liberal party and has been pressing for Turkey's candidate membership in the EU.
In reality, for quite some time, distinctions between various bourgeois parties have been all but obliterated.
All of the government parties (and almost all "opposition" parties) advocate and follow more or less the same line and try to "rule" the country under the very close supervision of generals. All obediently follow the IMF prescriptions and act as tax collectors of world finance capital. All are for the vicious exploitation of workers and toilers, for the national oppression of Kurdish people and for the maintenance of a brutal semi-military dictatorship over the masses. Almost all are tainted with corruption and financial scandals.
All are for a militarist and expansionist foreign policy, mainly in line with the interests of the US.
And all are subservient to the powerful military clique, closely associated with Washington neo-fascists. As a result, none of the bourgeois parties, including "opposition" parties, with the possible exception of Tayyip Erdoïgan's AKP (Justice and Development Party) are left with any real electoral support.
Especially, the three coalition partners, that is DSP, MHP and ANAP are very much discredited in the eyes of the masses.
That's why, in recent months, there has been efforts, orchestrated from behind the scenes by big capital and the General Staff to form a respectable "center party" out of the remnants and elements of the old dilapidated bourgeois parties. But, so far, these efforts have come to naught. Only a few of the bourgeois parties are expected to top the required 10 percent threshold to be represented in the parliament at the coming elections on November 3rd, 2002.
The AKP and the SP (Contentment Party), the two "moderate" Islamist parties, the offspring of two banned Islamic parties, that is, Welfare Party and Virtue Party, led by Nejmettin Erbakan, still are considered beyond the pale by the oversensitive General Staff. They have not yet been able to gain the trust of the generals by shedding their hypocritical anti-Western rhetoric and their mild criticism of the NATO, the IMF and the EU.
The drawing closer of these reactionary Islamist parties toward the political center and the gradual reduction in the tension between the Islamist and "secularist" wings of the bourgeoisie is another factor objectively favoring the revolutionary and the Kurdish national movement, especially amid the protracted period of economic and political crisis Turkey is living through.
Neither, however, are in a position to exploit the lack of any credible political alternative to the brutal fascist dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie, though for somewhat different reasons.
The line of reformism and compromise followed by the Kurdish national liberation movement led by the PKK had further deepened in the wake of the capture of its autocratic leader Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999 and evolved into a line of capitulation and alliance with imperialism and Turkish reaction.
Unfortunately, the pro-Kurdish HADEP ("People's Democracy Party"), which is very close to the PKK/KADEK, has been following a similar line of collaboration with Turkish reaction and imperialism, despite being systematically snubbed, humiliated and persecuted by the former. HADEP has been campaigning for the membership of Turkey in the EU and trying to present this course as the panacea for all the economic and political problems Kurdish and Turkish workers and toilers have been facing.
As to the question of Iraq, the PKK leadership has been trying to manufacture consent among the Kurdish masses for two counter-revolutionary, but at the same time somewhat contradictory aims of US imperialists and Turkish militarists.
For instance, the declaration of the 5th Plenum of the Party Assembly of the PKK (held in late January 2002) told:
In an article published in the July 2002 issue of the central organ of the organization, PKK/KADEK leadership defended an American intervention in the region as a whole and went so far as criticizing the YNK and the PDK for not giving full and whole-hearted support for an imperialist war against Iraq:
On the other hand, it is doubtful, whether the PKK/KADEK, which has been losing the trust of Kurdish people, could gain the trust of imperialism and reaction by preaching such an extremely disgraceful and disgusting stand.
The Turkish revolutionary movement is also passing through a very difficult period.
The shameful capitulation and treason of PKK/KADEK leadership, has still further exacerbated the difficult situation, the Turkish revolutionary movement has found itself in.
For over 35 years, the main body of this movement has been characterized by the absence of real and permanent ties to the working class and by petty-bourgeois radicalism.
Even the most advanced sections of the movement have not been able to shed practical burdens and habits¸ of their petty-bourgeois past, despite some advances made on the theoretical front. One of the foremost problems facing this movement has been and still is the failure to close distance between its own agenda and the agenda of the masses. (30)
For the last 2.5-3 years, almost all the groups comprising the Turkish movement have focused their attention on the struggle for the defense of political prisoners.
The fascist regime was, for months, getting ready to carry out an all-out attack on political prisoners, to tighten its control over the prisons. On 19 December 2000, Turkish "security" forces conducted a major raid on several prisons and massacred 32 political prisoners in cold blood and forcibly transferred them into cell-type maximum security prisons.
In response to this aggression, almost all political prisoners began a hunger strike, which lasted until May 2002. At this date, the hunger strike was ended by all groups save two.
Political prisoners have displayed great heroism and defended their convictions against the regime at the cost of more than 90 martyrs and hundreds of physically and mentally incapacitated.
This resistance, true to the traditions of Turkish revolutionary movement, has been a showdown between the revolutionary vanguard and the repressive apparatus of the big bourgeoisie.
Over this period, when revolutionary groups were busy or felt themselves to be occupied mainly with the resistance against cell-type prisons, several events deeply affecting the lives of ordinary workers and toilers were happening:
Moreover, in response to the terrible pressure of the devastating economic crisis, workers and toilers were taking to the streets.
For instance, in July-August 1999, just before the earthquake which destroyed Northeastern Anatolia, one of the most industrialized parts of the country and led to the death of more than 25,000 people, 500,000 workers were demonstrating against IMF-imposed policies. In April 2001, around 150,000 small workers, youth, shopkeepers, and unemployed conducted militant demonstrations against the IMF and the government in a string of cities, including capital Ankara; demonstrators chanting anti-IMF and anti-government slogans - clashed with the police and repelled them.
Since 1999, Kurdish people, braving the batons and guns of the police have come to the streets and demonstrated times and again for their democratic and national rights despite the capitulation and treason of PKK leadership.
For years, tens and hundreds of thousands of workers, public servants and youth have been celebrating the Labor Day, all over Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, despite government repression and the sabotage of trade-union bureaucrats.
After the events of 11 September and especially in the wake of the beginning of US aggression against Afghan people, there have been several smaller demonstrations in support of Palestinian and Afghan peoples. The list can be lengthened by citing tens of less spectacular mass actions, such as strikes, demonstrations of workers, youth, public employees, campaigns of anti-war and human rights activists and supporters of political prisoners.
Unfortunately, revolutionary groups have closed this stormy chapter of the history of our country in a weaker position than ever.
While workers and toilers were fighting for their economic and political demands and urgent needs, the revolutionary movement could do next to nothing and remained almost entirely isolated from the masses. It contented itself with conducting routine propaganda and agitation. It kept on calling on them to support the struggle of political prisoners and "to learn from the struggle in prisons!"
And what is more unfortunate, this has happened, at a period of most acute economic and political crisis, when there was a real chance to mobilize the Kurdish and Turkish workers and toilers on a massive scale for national and social liberation and to build strong ties and bridges between the masses and the revolutionary movement.
The inability to learn from its own 35 year-long experience has condemned the revolutionary movement to a position of marginal significance and to greater isolation from the masses and the mass movement.
At the root of this perennial problem lies the petty-bourgeois class character and habits of the revolutionary movement. Without a genuine and deep grasp of Marxism-Leninism and a genuine understanding of the decisive role of the working class, as well as of revolutionary strategy and tactics, Turkish revolutionary movement cannot go any further.
Therefore, construction of a militant vanguard of the working class of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan armed not only with Marxism-Leninism and the universal historical experience of the working class, but also with a deep and all-round understanding of the concrete conditions of our country remains a burning task.
Only under the leadership of such a party, workers and toilers of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan shall be able to break their chains, deal a death blow to fascism, national oppression, militarism and capitalism and thus contribute to the liberation of the oppressed and exploited masses of the world. 1-12 September 2002
On the other hand, one should also concede the fact that, a too powerful Turkey with pretensions to regional superpower status, is definitely, not in the interests of imperialism in general and EU imperialists in particular. Therefore, the ravings of Turkish reaction cannot be dismissed as totally baseless and irrational. The old principle of "divide and rule", one of the cornerstones of colonialism and modern imperialism, is very much alive. Two further points need to be added. First of all, this general tendency of imperialism, not to allow dependent countries to accumulate too much economic and political power and strive to conduct a policy of "divide and rule" in their relations with such countries, is a general one; it does not target Turkey or the Middle East, in particular. Secondly, entirely reactionary tendency of imperialist powers to control and dominate dependent countries, does not and cannot in any way justify the repressive and anti-popular policies of the pro-imperialist ruling elites and classes in power.
(2) The PKK (or KADEK) has followed a policy of overt capitulation vis-a-vis Turkish reaction after the capture of its leader Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999 and especially during and after his trial in June of the same year. Since then it has stopped its armed struggle or rather any struggle against Turkish fascism and colonialism and renounced its political line of resistance against national oppression. It has renounced almost all its national-democratic demands, save the recognition of Kurdish national identity and the right to use Kurdish language. This contemptible line of appeasement and capitulation, however, has not produced any "positive" response on the part of Turkish reaction and therefore has left Kurdish masses as angry and distrustful of their oppressors as ever. So, for the moment the PKK/KADEK does not pose any real threat for Turkish ruling classes. But, everything could change as a result of a US operation against Iraq, where thousands of armed PKK/KADEK guerillas are stationed. Turkish ruling classes and military are right in being afraid of the "destabilizing" results of such an operation, which might provide Kurdish masses of the Northern and Southern Kurdistan with the opportunity to come together under a more militant leadership and rise once more for national liberation and an independent state.
(3) When making such comments and complaining of the tragic results of terrorism, Turkish reactionaries in an underhand manner try to shift the blame on the PKK and Kurdish national movement for what has happened in Turkey, especially during the last 20 or so years. Actually, it was Turkish ruling classes and armed forces and all its extensions (Special Teams, "Village Guards", police and counter-insurgency forces) under the command of the Turkish General Staff, who have committed the most inhuman and grave crimes against Kurdish and Turkish people and progressive forces. It is they, who have killed more than 40,000 people, evacuated more than 4,000 villages and hamlets and burned a great majority of them and turned the country into a gigantic torture and an open air prison.
(4) Hurriyet, 1 March 2002.
(5) In the aftermath of the events of 11 September, US and Russian imperialists seem to have entered a period of honeymoon. Russia has helped the US in its aggression against Afghanistan; it has provided the US with intelligence and with the opportunity to use Russian military airfields. It has not raised any objections to the US penetration of Uzbekistan, Kyrghistan, Georgia etc. There is also growing cooperation between two sides in the exploitation of Caspian Sea energy resources and transportation of oil and natural gas to Western and other markets. In return, US and its Western European allies have stopped their hypocritical criticism of the massacres and crimes committed in Chechnya and even admitted Russia into the NATO, though under a special status. These developments, however, cannot and will not change the essentially antagonistic character of relations between the present superpower (the US) and much weakened Russian imperialism in the medium run. Notwithstanding the overlapping of their interests in the struggle against workers and toilers in general and Muslim peoples in particular, counter-revolutionary strategies of American and Russian (and Chinese, not to mention Western European and Japanese) imperialists are bound to clash. The US is keen on keeping Eurasia under its control. It is obvious that, much more than Afghanistan is at stake here. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's former national security adviser, argued that Eurasia contained:
As to the grand ambitions of the US imperialists to conquer Eurasiai, in the end, it will prove to be a pipe-dream. It can definitely be said that American neo-fascists will not be able to subjugate the workers and peoples of Eurasia and dominate the world. They will end up in utter failure and will only come nearer to defeat as they increase their aggression and dissipate their forces all around the world. However, for the moment and in the near future, they will continue to bring death and destruction to the peoples of the region and the world.
(6) In his article, "Turkey and Caucasus: Pipeline Politics Play Their Course", Dr. Hooman Peimani wrote:
(8) Beginning from the mid-1980s, Southern Kurdistan has witnessed countless Turkish incursions in the name of pursuing PKK fighters and destroying PKK bases there. Some of these incursions have taken the proportions of a regular war, where up to 40,000 Turkish troops, warplanes, helicopters, tanks and heavy artillery were brought into the picture. In most of these incursions, either the PDK or the YNK or sometimes both have provided active or passive support to Turkish invaders. This, however, has not made them any more trustworthy in the eyes of Ankara.
(9) Needless to say, this stance of theirs has not precluded them from maintaining a military presence in Southern Kurdistan attacking PKK fighters and bases and bombing Kurdish villages there. Nor has it precluded them from colluding with the PDK and/or the YNK and from arming and financing them with an eye to contain the PKK. Further, they have played host to American and British planes based in Turkey, which have been bombing Iraqi targets since 1991, have allowed intelligence operatives of the US and Britain to enter Northern Iraq for the purpose of "destabilizing" the country, have had their own designs on Iraqi soil and been making preparations to annex part of it. For that purpose, they have also been planting their intelligence operatives both among the Kurds and the Turkomans of the region and arming and training Turkoman militias. According to the distorted logic of Turkish fascists, to act in this manner is not in contradiction with their so-called defense of "the territorial integrity of Iraq" at all!
(10) "Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination", Selected Works, Vol. 5, pp. 271-72, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1936.
(11) "The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up", Collected Works, Vol. 22, p. 341, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974.
(12) After years of silence imposed by the junta in the wake of the military coup of September 1980, mass movement in Turkey proper, especially of workers and student youth once more began to rise, beginning from the end of 1986, with the protest actions of university students in 1985 and 1986 and the impressive months-long strike of NETASH workers in Istanbul. The revival of mass struggles of workers, student youth and public servants would rise throughout the rest of the 1980s and culminate in the determined struggle of Zonguldak coal mine workers in 1990-91 and the aborted general strike in 1991. These struggles and the growth of the successful armed struggle led by the PKK created a more favorable climate for the reconstruction and reorganization of revolutionary parties and groups in Turkey. At the time, the accumulated reaction of the people against three year long military rule and its semi-military aftermath had pushed the ruling classes to a defensive mood and position.
(13) William Safire, "The Turkey Card", The New York Times, November 5th, 2001.
(14) R. James Woolsey, "Objective Democracy", The Washington Post, November 27, 2001.
(15) The Jordan Times, August 23-24, 2002.
(16) The comparatively easy victory won by the Turkish military was mainly due to the capitulationist tendencies of PKK leadership led by Abdullah Ocalan, who openly betrayed the Kurdish cause after his capture. Despite an overwhelming superiority in military terms, the arrogant Turkish army had not been able to defeat the PKK during the guerilla campaign lasting from 1984 to 1999, despite its massacres, systematic use of torture and extra-judicial executions, burning of villages, bombing and destruction of several towns and deportation of millions of peasants from their land.
(17) "Turkey should stay out of Iraq", The Turkish Daily News, 7 December 2001.
(18) "Though Iraq is under UN sanctions limiting its oil exports, it bypasses the restrictions by smuggling oil to its neighbor in full view of the international community. And even as the US threatens war on Iraq, Washington turns a blind eye to the illicit trade through Turkey-a key US ally." wrote Seljan Hajaloglu of Associated Press on August 31, 2002. He said:
(19) In fact, the Ecevit government, which has been in office since April 1999, has done a lot to restore trade and economic ties to and intensify the dialogue with Baghdad. These initiatives, which have been supported by the main body of the ruling classes, have included visits by Turkish cabinet ministers, as well as numerous businessmen and high-level Turkish bureaucrats.
For instance, in March 2000, a 200-strong Turkish delegation led by State Minister E. Safter Gaydali and Undersecretary of Trade K. Tuzmen visited Baghdad for the second meeting of Turkey-Iraq Joint Economic Commission.
On October 9, 2000, Turkey announced its intention to return an ambassador to Baghdad and dispatched several chartered planes with food, medicine and other materials. Turkish authorities insisted that the deliveries are not a retaliatory gesture, since the UN had previously approved the aid. Ankara also announced that it is considering allowing Iraq to increase its oil exports through Turkey, previously restricted to one million barrels per day through the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline as part of the UN's "oil for food" program.
In July 2001, the Iraqi energy minister, Amir Muhammed Rasheed, was warmly received by Ecevit.
Ecevit met Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri during the February 2002 Istanbul summit aimed at improving relations between Muslim and Christian countries. On September 6th, 2002, Turkish Health Minister, O. Durmush and around 100 officials and businessmen visited Iraq in defiance of US calls for the isolation and overthrow of Iraqi regime. "At a time when Washington believes Baghdad is building chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, many pro-Turkish Americans see Turkey's enthusiasm to help Saddam's government as a slap in the face of America." said Michael Rubin, an expert at Washington's American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.
(20) It should be stressed that, the US ruling classes themselves, are not unanimous about whether such an operation would be in their interests and those of their clients in the region or not. These circles share some or most of the concerns of Turkish, Egyptian and Saudi reactionaries. At least a section of Israeli Zionists too, who regards Iran as the real strategic enemy, share some of these concerns. According to these counter-revolutionary "pacifists", comprising among others Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, Wesley Clark etc., a strike against the Saddam Hussein regime may,
(22) "Top US Military Commanders Are Transferred Closer to the War Zone", The New York Times, February 4, 2002.
(23) Kissinger, whose hands are stained with the blood of peoples of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Chile, Kurdistan, Iran among others, understood and defended the necessity of threatening the workers and toilers with the "big stick", that is, showing the world, what he euphemistically termed "America's determination". In his article, published in ("Phase II and Iraq") The Washington Post, on January 13th, 2002, he advised Bush and Co.:
(25) Mo Mowlam, "The Real Goal is the Seizure of Saudi Oil", The Guardian, September 5, 2002.
(26) One of the most important conclusions to be drawn from the present political conjuncture is the utmost necessity of the fight against the bogey of "Islamic fundamentalism" blown out of all proportion by the imperialist bourgeoisie. To a certain extent, such a danger does exist; that however, shall not and should not deter true revolutionaries and consistent democrats from assessing and trying to mobilize the immense revolutionary potential of workers and peoples in Arab and Islamic countries, who are targeted by imperialism, the main enemy of workers and oppressed peoples. In his "Foundations of Leninism", Stalin said:
(27) "The Foreign Policy of the Russian Revolution", Collected Works, Vol. 25, p. 85, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964.
(28) Ozgur Politika, 6 February 2002, italics mine.
(29) "At the Root of the Impasse in Middle East Stand the Exhausted Regimes", Serxwebun ("Independence"), July 2002.
(30) In his article, "Urgent Tasks of Our Movement", Lenin said: