Kurdish terror is counterproductive

The Kurdish terror attacks on Turkish cities will not serve the people of South Kurdistan. Since the fighting has resumed between the Turkish government and the People’s Defence Force (PKK), many innocent people have been killed. Most of these deaths are ethnic Kurds, who have been murdered by Turkish security forces in South Kurdistan (South East Turkey). In response to these murders, the PKK and other Kurdish resistance groups have started with terror attacks, against police and civilians in major Turkish cities such as Ankara. Revolutionary socialists disagree with their tactics as it will only fuel Turkish nationalism and state-terrorism, against the Kurdish people in both Southern Kurdistan and Western Kurdistan (Rovaja – Syrian Kurdistan)! 

The peace progress between the PKK and Turks seemed to work, but with the Rojava Revolution things changed. Turkish president and soon-to-be-dictator; Recep Tayyip Erdogan feared that Rojava could become, what his people had tried to prevent for years; an independent Kurdish state on the ideals of PKK leader: Abdullah Öcalan. Erdogan came to power in 2002 on a capitalist conservative agenda. His Justice and Development Party (AK Party) challenged the secular Turkish elite, which was very suspicious of this conservative party. In Turkey it remains forbidden to build a political party based on religion. Most Islamic parties have been banned by the Turkish constitutional court. The AK Party claims not to be Islamic, but support most ideals which are common to Islam. Also the party is promoting Ottoman nationalism, Greater Turkish nationalism!

Erdogan has won every election since 2002. This is because his support comes from the rural lands of Turkey. His support in the big cities and tourist regions is minimal. But since most Turks live in the countryside, the AK Party wins their vote. Progressive Turks are secular and more democratic oriented, then the people living in rural Turkey. Most are small minded people, who vote for Erdogan because their family and local community support traditionalism and conservatism, much like Americans who vote for the Republican Party. However secular democratic minded Turks, fear the growing authoritarianism of president Erdogan!

After Syrian Kurdistan was able to become more or less independent from Damascus, Turkey’s worst nightmare seemed to be reality. The cantons of Rojava (Western Kurdistan) proved stable and willing to build a democratic confederalist society. Turkey does not like the idea that a independent Kurdish nation is able to grow, especially when it borders South Kurdistan which is Turkish land. So in secret the government in Ankara, started to support a religious fundamentalist group called the IS or Islamic State. Erdogan hoped that the IS would be able to destroy Rojava and end the Kurdish dreams of independence!

But with support from the Free Syrian Army (Arabs), the People’s Defence Force (PKK – Turkish Kurds) and the People’s Protection Units (PYD – Syrian Kurds), the Kurds were able to stop the offensive of the Islamic State in November 2014. Then they drove the islamists back, Erdogan’s hopes of destroying Rojava failed. Afterwards the Kurds joined forces with Arabs and Assyrians, Armenians and Turkmens to form the Syrian Democratic Forces. Together they fight the reactionary IS and were able to push them far away from the cantons by late 2015!

The struggle of the Turkish Kurds against the Ankara government (regime) has been a long one. It started in the late 1970’s after years of brutal fighting between left-wing guerrilla groups and the far-right who were supported by Ankara. During these chaotic years, a former Kurdish member of the Revolutionary Youth Federation of Turkey, founded the Kurdistan Workers Party in 1978. Abdullah Öcalan based his ideals on Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism) and Kurdish nationalism. His PKK would fight a guerrilla war against the Turks and their nationalist regime. After the collapse of the USSR and his capture by the Turkish MIT and American CIA in 1999, Öcalan abandoned his Stalinist ideals for democratic confederalism. A libertarian socialist idea, which is now attempted in Rojava!

For six years after its foundation, the PKK had no army of its own and lacked the means for major operations. However in 1984 with the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army of Kurdistan, the PKK-Ankara Conflict began. It would become a bloody war with over 45.000 people dying between 1984 and today. Turks call Abdullah Öcalan a ”terrorist”  because his guerrilla murdered both soldiers and civilians, who supported the Turkish government. However for many Kurds, the PKK is the only force capable of fighting for their rights. Basic human rights which the Ankara regime does not grand them!

Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to be different then the secular leaders and dictators before him. Unlike them he was willing to give the Kurdish people some rights. He started to talk with the PKK and this resulted in a ceasefire in 2012. For the first time the Kurds were allowed to call themselves Kurdish, could speak their own language and Turkish state television in South Kurdistan, started to broadcast in Kurdish. All these gains are now destroyed as Erdogan aims to destroy the PKK in his own nation and the Democratic Union Party in Syria. The PYD is the Syrian sister party of the Kurdistan Workers Party. Founded in 2003, it has been in opposition to the secular Arab nationalist regime of Bashar Al-Assad!

In the 1980’s the actions of the PKK were mostly based on revenge attacks. Like the terror attacks today, innocent civilians paid the price. Although revolutionary socialists can understand the frustration and anger over the brutality of Turkish imperialism. Revenge killings of the PKK only resulted in more state-terror. Over 3.000 Kurdish towns and villages were destroyed by the Turkish military in the 80’s and 90’s of the 20th century. After Erdogan started to attack PKK camps in both South Kurdistan and North Iraq, the Kurds realized that there would be no peace. On 13 March 2016, a bomb exploded in the capital Ankara, killing 37 and injuring over 120. The attack was carried out by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, a group that broke away from Öcalan’s workers party in 2004!

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) wishes to have a interdependent Kurdish state, which is no longer supported by the Kurdistan Workers Party. Öcalan has abandoned this idea which led the Freedom Falcons to split from the workers party. They carried out the bombing in the capital on 13 March, so it was not the work of the PKK. Recep Tayyip Erdogan was wrong in blaming Öcalan for the terror attacks, but that is his strategy. He wants to put all deaths caused by terrorism, on the Kurdish resistance. But the TAK are not part of the Group of Communities in Kurdistan and neither belong to the People’s Defence Force (PKK army). Still the terror attack will fuel Turkish nationalism among Turks who want to take revenge, for the death of their fathers, sons, mothers and daughters who were killed at the hands of the TAK!

For the same reasons the Kurdish youth join the PKK in South East Turkey and the PYD in North Syria. They want to fight oppressive forces, Turkey in South Kurdistan and the Islamic State in Western Kurdistan (Rojava). Many Kurdish groups have a strong female presence, which is unique to this region. Few woman take up arms to fight for a cause, but Kurdish woman are a exception. This is why the Woman Protection Units (YPJ) got a lot of western media attention, after young Kurdish woman took up the fight against the Islamic State for a free Rojava!

Although revolutionary socialists can understand why PKK and TAK militants want to take revenge against the Turks, their terrorist actions will only alienate them from the working class of Turkey. Because many Turkish soldiers are conscripts, forced into the army by law. These young men come from working class families. So when Kurdish militants kill them, they do not harm the state. Erdogan can spawn more soldiers from poor families and use them as canonfolder against the newly founded People’s United Revolutionary Movement!

With no hope of peace, the PKK has allied itself with nine illegal revolutionary leftist groups in Turkey. Together they call themselves the People’s United Revolutionary Movement. Members including the TKP/ML, THKP-C, MKP, TKEP/Leninist, TİKB, DKP, Devrimci Karargâh and MLKP. Their goal is to overthrown the Ankara regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan by guerrilla warfare. Revolutionary socialists disagree, only a unified class struggle of Turkish and Kurdish workers can end the regime. Guerrilla attacks and terrorist bombs will fuel the nationalist propaganda of Erdogan and strengthen the picture that Turkey is ”fighting terrorism”. The soon-to-be-dictator can use the conflict to limit democratic rights in the name of ”increasing security”!

Meanwhile,  Turkish artillery is shelling YPG troops in North Syria. Ankara wants to stop the troops of Rojava, from gaining more grounds. By now the Syrian Kurds control almost the whole north of the Syrian Arab Republic. Islamic State troops keep control over most of the desert and Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Aassad, remains in control of the western coastal cities. Turkey will do anything to stop the Rojava Revolution, shelling the YPG is only the first step. What will Ankara do? Invading Rojava? Destroying the cantons with brutal force, like the 3.000 Kurdish towns in the 1980’s and 1990’s? NATO has allowed it in the past, they will allow it now. Because Turkey is a loyal friend of western imperialism!

Revolutionary socialists call on Turkish and Kurdish workers to build a mass party of their own. We give critical support to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which tries to be a voice for both Turks and Kurds. The HDP can become a workers party if it adopts a clear socialist program, in favor of abolishing capitalism and building a Turkish Socialist Republic, with full minority rights for Kurds and Armenians. For this to work, the Turks need to abandon their nationalist thinking and the Kurds need to stop bombing targets in Turkey. Their common enemy is the capitalist system, which is supported by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Justice and Development Party, the European Union and the United States of America. If the PKK/PYD think that the west will support them they are wrong. For most European nations, the Kurdistan Workers Party is a ”terrorist” group. Therefore no compromises must be made with capitalist governments. Rojava needs to build its own democratic socialist society under control of all people. Kurdish, Arabic, Assyrian and Turkmen workers are needed for socialism to work!