Turkish army tanks manoeuver as Turkish Kurds watch over the Syrian town of Kobani.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One widely accepted global definition of terrorism defines it as: “The unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” Every terrorist group has goals and aims. The whole world is affected by this terrorism, especially Iraq and the Kurdish region, which is affected by the brutal Islamic State (ISIS). Groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida have goals based on ideology and they target specific geographical areas.
In Turkey the group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons or TAK aims to kill Turks and is seen as an breakaway group of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Eventually groups like this end up hurting their own nation and ethnic group more than their enemies.
Al-Qaida’s main goal is destroying the Western and Iranian involvement in the Middle East. It has targeted the United States to accomplish this, especially after US involvement in Iraq. However this hurt Sunni Arabs more than it did foreigners or Shi’ite groups backed by Iran. Even though al-Qaida claims to fight on behalf of Sunni jihadism, its main victims are Sunnis, especially in places like Baghdad.
ISIS on the other hand claimed to be fighting the Shi’ites as one of its main goals initially. However its campaign did not benefit Sunnis in the long run. It influenced many Sunni Muslims throughout the world to join the group and those volunteers ended up being killed.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s military force, called the Peshmerga, have been fighting ISIS on behalf of the world with the support of the US-led coalition since 2014. In Syria the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been the main force fighting ISIS. The volunteers in the YPG and SDF are Sunnis. All of those villages destroyed in fighting ISIS have been Sunni areas. The long-term effect of ISIS has been to empower the Shi’ite-dominated government in Iraq and spread Iranian influence in the region. This is especially true with regard to the involvement of Shi’ite militias such as Hashd al-Sha’abi who are fighting ISIS. The brutality of ISIS also made many Sunnis internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout Iraq, especially in the Kurdish region.
The TAK, which is local to Turkey, has carried out numerous terrorist attacks. Like al-Qaida and ISIS, it uses youth as suicide bombers and brainwashes recruits.
For instance, several months ago a bus transporting Kurdish police in Istanbul was targeted by a suicide bomber who was 14 years old. TAK has caused the death of Kurdish activists, politicians, workers and shop owners, and people living in rural areas.
On November 3 there was a bombing in Diyarbakir, which is generally considered the capital of the Kurdish region in Turkey. Twelve people were killed, most of them shop owners, including a Kurdish activist. The TAK apologized for his death. The attack gave Turkey more excuses to crack down on Kurds and attack the entire neighborhood. Military forces were deployed in the Kurdish area.
The main Kurdish political party in Turkey, the HDP, had a good chance to work with the AKP and the government after it received a high number of votes in 2015 and secured 81 seats in the parliament. It could have worked to prevent the war in the Kurdish cities that the PKK launched, and worked toward peace. However the TAK sought to disrupt this peace process, killing police and starting a wave of terrorism.
This strengthened the AKP and allowed it to establish a government by itself without the opposition in parliament.
Kurdish seats in parliament were reduced from 80 to 51 in the next election.
Kurdish cities became a war zone as the PKK began a conflict with the Turkish government in 2015, using the cities as a base of operations. Attacks by TAK have made Erdogan more acceptable to Turks because people think he fights terrorism and this has resulted in the arrest of 11 Kurdish politicians from the HDP, including the co-chairs of the party.
The TAK and PKK must be blamed as much as Erdogan for this result.
“It is impossible to forgive those who target civilians randomly as ISIS does,” said one HDP member. One must ask whether Iran’s hand is behind some of this. Is it the Iranian agenda to sow instability in Turkey? While Kurds fight terrorists on behalf of the world in Iraq and Syria, what is happening in Turkey? Why do terrorist groups call themselves “Kurdish” in Turkey when they end up only hurting Kurds?