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Except for rare excep­tions, “observers”, “spe­cial­ists”, “assigned jour­nal­ists”, “con­nais­seurs” of the Mid­dle East and Turkey in par­tic­u­lar per­form con­tor­sions in order to write or speak of “events” that took place in Garê, and incrim­i­nate the PKK for them.

And here, I am only point­ing to these expres­sions in the French media.

While all-news media sta­tions omit talk­ing about it com­plete­ly, or do so in less than three sec­onds, so busy are they with the traps laid out sur­round­ing the ques­tion of Islam, anoth­er kind of press, writ­ten or radio­phon­ic, often finds its sources in the AA Turk­ish agency, via reprints from the AFP.

Thus we learn that “Turk­ish forces, dur­ing an anti-ter­ror­ist inter­ven­tion near the Ira­ki bor­der, dis­cov­ered in a cav­ern the bod­ies of 13 pris­on­ers rid­dled with bul­lets. Respon­s­abil­i­ty rests with the PKK, a par­ty con­sid­ered as ter­ror­ist by Turkey and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty.” Gen­er­al­ly, the “jour­nal­ist” then men­tions “the absence of an inde­pen­dent source to con­firm the facts.” Yet one will notice that this ver­sion “to be con­firmed” and which is the one pro­vid­ed by the Turk­ish gov­ern­men­tal agency, is the only one pre­sent­ed and broad­cast to this day.

Thus, the PKK would have exe­cut­ed in cold blood war pris­on­ers it had been hold­ing for over five years in some cas­es. And just at the moment when it was call­ing on said inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to hold back Turkey’s arm in its pro­ject­ed occu­pa­tion and “cleans­ing” of a part of Ira­ki Kur­dis­tan, along with sim­i­lar projects in Syr­i­an Kur­dis­tan. Right at the moment when deal­ings are occur­ring with the new Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tion, even lead­ing to fresh aid in mate­r­i­al. The PKK, “mur­der­er of women, chil­dren and babies” as the Turk­ish agency likes to men­tion on a reg­u­lar basis, would thus be total­ly devoid of a polit­i­cal strategy.

It would also ignore the loom­ing polit­i­cal cri­sis in Turkey, the author­i­ties’ relent­less­ness in wip­ing from the map the Peo­ples’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (HDP) and would con­sid­er it a pri­or­i­ty, in full pub­lic view, to dis­pose of bur­den­some hostages held in Siyanê in the Garê region. In oth­er words, the hawks would have tak­en over.

Such a crispy-crunchy good hypoth­e­sis. “The PKK is a hord of sav­ages worse than ISIS and that’s all.” Let us add that all those who have Kur­dish blood in small or large dos­es, in trans­fu­sion at the HDP, should be arrest­ed and impris­onned pre­ven­tive­ly. And, why not “hacked to pieces” by a janis­sary no doubt, as kind­ly sug­gest­ed by a Turk­ish min­is­ter con­cern­ing a polit­i­cal leader the Ira­ki oper­a­tion was sup­posed to “bring back.”

Pre­cise­ly, let’s get back to this “oper­a­tion” for which no one is lack­ing in sources since it has been bandied about by Erdo­gan for weeks, and was the object of pre­ven­tive bomb­ings added to the usu­al ones.

Turk­ish mil­i­tary oper­a­tions against PKK with­draw­al bases on the Ira­ki bor­der lim­its are noth­ing new. They have been ongo­ing for decades. We can also speak of war, in judi­cial terms, between the Turk­ish State and the armed Kur­dish move­ment. Call­ing things by their right­ful name allows to use the terms “com­bat­ants and sol­diers” and to speak of “war crimes”, “rights of war” and of their jurispru­dence among oth­ers, con­trary to the term “ter­ror­ism” which eras­es all lim­its and comprehension.

The oper­a­tion in ques­tion was in prepa­ra­tion since Octo­ber 2020 and is not, stricly speak­ing an “oper­a­tion to pro­tect the bor­der”. This is why it required some pre­cau­tions and agree­ments before Turkey could pro­ceed. All these attacks against the Kur­dish gueril­la have been con­cert­ed (and this even very recent­ly) with the Barzanist author­i­ties, man­agers of the Ira­ki Kur­dish enti­ty, and whose PDK par­ty col­lab­o­rates with Turkey against the PKK.

The Kur­dish move­ment balks at putting for­ward polit­i­cal divi­sions in its midst, and even more so in the midst of the Kur­dish peo­ple, and yet these run deep with the nation­al­ist Barzani clan, and have just as many impli­ca­tions in North­ern Syr­ia, as the var­i­ous games play­ing out.

Set­ting aside this aspect would mean not attempt­ing to under­stand what were the basic polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary inten­tions of Turkey in attak­ing near the Garê moun­tains. If the lib­er­a­tion of pris­on­ers was per­haps part of the project, it was not its main objec­tive as its long prepa­ra­tion demonstrates.

These pris­on­ers – details about which should be pro­vid­ed short­ly by the Turk­ish min­is­ters before the Asem­bly, are already known, for some. Just as the PKK itself had informed the fam­i­lies and Turk­ish author­i­ties about them for the past 5 years, as his­to­ry has now demon­strat­ed for oth­er cas­es dur­ing this war, Turk­ish State author­i­ties remained deaf to the the demands of fam­i­lies to open nego­ti­a­tions. This is an averred fact that only serves to rein­force ques­tions con­cern­ing the final fate of these pris­on­ers, when one knows that the Turk­ish author­i­ties were always more than reluc­tant to take them back.

And in the absence of direct tes­ti­mo­ny, it is impos­si­ble indeed to describe with cer­tain­ty the cir­cum­stances and fac­tu­al caus­es to the death of the 13 pris­on­ers. Sev­er­al bomb­ings and land com­bats caused vic­tims on both sides, Turk­ish com­man­dos were sent in then pulled back, all this belongs to facts of war, and yet Turkey was the first to speak of “hostage exe­cu­tions”, of “civil­ians” before falling back on the the­sis of “pris­on­ers exe­cut­ed by bul­lets”, which it claims it can prove.

Respon­si­bil­i­ty” would rest entire­ly with the PKK and every­one is called upon to speak accordingly.

And by pro­ceed­ing by asso­ci­a­tion, the car­tel hold­ing pow­er in Turkey can advance fur­ther the polit­i­cal dis­man­tling of the HDP, order­ing the recent arrests of hun­dred of per­sons “sus­pect­ed of ter­ror­ism”. Here again, the polit­i­cal process has been ongo­ing for a long time. And the “Garê” effect, accom­pa­nied by “funer­als for the sol­diers” is being used as was the failed coup d’é­tat in 2016. The PKK would have come to Erdo­gan’s assistance?

One only needs to have assist­ed to the ses­sion in Paris of the Peo­ple’s Tri­bunal devot­ed to Turkey and the Kurds to know that these “events” have been legion for decades, in this war oppos­ing the Kur­dish gueril­la and the State. As a reminder, the break­ing off of the peace process already dates back to 2015; the offer to reopen nego­ti­a­tions with the Kur­dish leader Öcalan, still in iso­la­tion, is con­stant­ly on the table. This is yet anoth­er rea­son to stay clear of the PKK “hostage exe­cu­tion” the­sis put for­ward by the agencies.

This type of “assas­si­na­tion” attrib­uted to the Kur­dish move­ment and lat­er “admit­ted” by lead­ers of Turk­ish State “ser­vices”, wish­ing to relieve their con­science on their death bed, is acknowl­edged, com­piled and archived. How­ev­er, we are still await­ing the recog­ni­tion of the numer­ous war crimes com­mit­ted in Kur­dis­tan in 2015/2016. And the “Sat­ur­day moth­ers” are still search­ing for the remains of their close ones.

In this con­text, cold­ly adher­ing to the con­dem­na­tion of “PKK ter­ror­ism” with­out ask­ing ques­tions and with­out a quak­ing of the soul is to par­tic­i­pate in a Turk­ish polit­i­cal operation.

And yet that is exact­ly what a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Euro­pean Union did, quick­ly and with­out the slight­est filter.

The Ger­man ambas­sador, Niko­laus Mey­er-Lan­drut, has been named as the new head of the EU del­e­ga­tion in Turkey. He was one of the most notable diplo­mats in Ger­many and served as advi­sor to the Chancelor Angela Merkel between 2006 and 2015. He “con­demned the PKK ter­ror­ist attack”. Accord­ing to this gen­tle­man, this would be the EU’s offi­cial posi­tion which was quick­ly fol­lowed by “con­do­lences” to the Turk­ish State.

The new Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tion did as much but… sus­pend­ing its appre­ci­a­tion to a less peremp­to­ry state­ment than that of the ambas­sador, “should evi­dence estab­lish the facts”. This did not keep Erdo­gan from protesting.

This is nei­ther the first nor the last time that Ger­man diplo­ma­cy dic­tates its Turk­ish pol­i­cy to the EU, includ­ing dur­ing the last cri­sis with France. Did it not recent­ly declare that it would be the first in line to talk invest­ments fol­low­ing the pandemic?

The cyn­i­cism and cow­ardice of neo-lib­er­al poli­cies remain the order of the day when deal­ing with Turkey. And of course, for exam­ple, Turkey will not appear on the Euro­pean Union’s “black list” of fis­cal par­adis­es. On Feb­ru­ary 15, it obtained a new delay from Brus­sels on this question.

Once again, the leg­endary “jour­nal­is­tic objec­tiv­i­ty” shows its lim­its. In the present case, it open­ly dis­plays its igno­rance. There is no need to sup­port or to fight the PKK in order to main­tain one’s dis­tances with the Turk­ish ver­sion. It is only nec­es­sary to attempt under­stand­ing his­to­ry through anoth­er prism that that of an accom­mo­dat­ing arrange­ment of ori­en­tal­ism with kemal­ism, at the ori­gin of many of Turkey’s ills, and to look square­ly at the true nature of the cur­rent regime. And this would not be the first time that the polit­i­cal instru­men­tal­iza­tion of facts of war would have con­se­quences even more dis­as­trous than the facts themselves.

In clos­ing when one returns to French media, the fact it indulges in navel gaz­ing to estab­lish if said navel responds to “Mus­lim or Repub­li­can val­ues” may be prefer­able to the fact that it seizes upon the ambas­sador’s posi­tion and broad­casts it widely.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…