This op-ed was originally published in Turkish by Gazete Sabro on 8 June 2020. The original can be found here. The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.
By Suphi Aksoy
In giving their own interests precedence, it appears that the ruling sovereign powers in the Middle East, together with international superpowers, have assigned the Kurds a new role. The seemingly new policies towards the Kurds, however, are a continuation of past policies; they are merely shaped by the powers according to today’s conditions and brought and consumed as if concerning a new approach.
If the Kurds act on these policies without realizing this dangerous underlying game, a major disaster is looming because it will potentially jeopardize and neutralize all other stateless and fragile peoples in the Middle East and put them on the brink of extinction. Some Kurdish political party executives do not hesitate to play their “new” role willingly and without restrained, as they see potential self-interests to gain from this game.
Neither historically nor contemporary, is there is a place for the Kurds in the prevailing status-quo state mentality of the regional powers Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and their institutions, but the whole world watches in amazement how some Kurds remain instrumental in the game as the new working role of the Kurds is shaped by the interests of Russia and the United States and regional states.
One day, the right to establish an independent state is on the verge of recognition. The next day it is a federation or autonomy. And the day after, the Kurds are deliberately left aside. The reality of the Kurds and their cause is transformed into a fairy tale. The matter however, is no fairy tale. It is an existential matter.
On varying issues of interest, Iran directs its dependents as its wishes, thanks to the tutelage it has established over some Kurds, especially the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Iraq. Turkey also economically and politically attaches itself to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq to meddle in the unity of the Kurds and keep internal conflicts on the agenda. The Iraqi and Syrian Arab regimes with their Baath mentality of Arabism see the Kurds as an ignorant society which should not be regarded as indigenous or as even a holder of an identity of their own. And even the USA, Russia, and the other regional sovereign states consider Kurds as potential for use in conflicts. For this, the Islamic State is used when needed as a source within the regional states’ territory when they see it appropriate to increase opposition brutality against regimes. Or make the opposition factions fight each other when they become too strong.
The worst and most painful case of all is that in 1915 the ruling powers courted the Kurds and made them partner in the Genocide on the Christian peoples. The Christian peoples, largely destroyed by the hands of the Kurds, are no longer a threat to the racist and monist states of the region. It is now the turn of the Kurds as these racist and monist states have now focused on the Kurds. The majority of Kurds however, still do not grasp the depth of this game and take no stance against involvement in new crimes.
Keeping Kurds close as a tool to be used against each other or against others continues to be an obstacle in the democratization of the region. Moreover, the sovereign powers carry out their dirty politics through Kurds and manage their crimes by having them carry them out. It is because of this that the struggle of the Kurdish people for freedom has been sabotaged over and over, and it is because of this collaboration with the status quo powers that the Kurds have not been able to achieve their fundamental rights. This ongoing mindset of hostility, extermination and backwardness continues to feed morbid collaborative politics. It is impossible to stop Kurds from hurting each other and fighting others, if this mindset does not stop and if democratic liberal culture is not strengthened.
Although the role of the Kurds changes according to the times and situations, their status has not changed much. It is up to the Kurds to determine their own destiny through their organized will and to prevent politicians from using them and frustrate their future. Kurds must draw lessons from history. They must expose the politics of the sovereign powers that pollute them and draw them in their crimes. The Kurds must admit how they got involved in the Genocide of 1915 and how they looked after their interests in the Genocide. They should come forward and explain why and how so many Syriacs and Armenians were killed by their forefathers in their own villages and cities, and how the property of the massacred was shared among one another. If they accept this truth, they accept this in court by stating the facts before the judiciary. Such a fundamental confrontation can also push the government of Turkey to move towards acceptance.
Kurds cannot protest the denial policy of states without accepting their own roles. Because this weapon of denial and destruction has now targeted the Kurds. And that is why it is time to turn a new page. It is time to get out of the grip of genocidal plans and to regain the trust of the Syriac and Armenian people. Simple apologies, superficial self-criticism or saying a few nice words do not make the problem go away.
Let the Kurds living today realize the fate of the Syriacs and Armenians who were collectively arrested and persecuted by Kurds in 1915 and compare those Syriacs and Armenians with the Kurdish politicians, intellectuals, and business people who were murdered by “unknown killers” in the 1990s. And let those living today compare what Syriacs and Armenians had to go through with what they themselves are experiencing today.
It will be revealed what they will encounter and what attitude they should take. Then it will be revealed to them what they need to do. Every Kurd needs to raise awareness about the persecutions and massacres that happened in their own village or town. And tell the world about the people involved in these crimes. Let the bloody and dirty politics of states be judged.
The biggest and most difficult task of humanity is its struggle to establish trust among individuals and peoples. The Kurds should not hesitate and act now, and not wait for any sovereign power to step in. And they should lead the struggle for peace between the peoples in the Middle East.