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"America is about to betray the Kurds, again"

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 07:10 pm
Read this in the airplane today on the 'Editorial & Opinions' page of the International Herald Tribune. Made me think. Comments?

Nicholas D. Kristof: Kurds are about to be betrayed - again

Nicholas D. Kristof Saturday, March 15, 2003
http://www.iht.com/articles/89821.html

BATMAN, Turkey A middle-aged Kurd took me on a lonely hillside near here to point out the isolated police station in whose basement he had been beaten, subjected to electric shocks and sexually humiliated. We stood half a mile away as he recounted his tale, and then the police spotted us - and a tank rushed toward us.

I fled. But the Kurds in Turkey cannot flee, and many here worry that the war in Iraq will set off more of the savagery that marked the 1980s and 1990s in "Turkish Kurdistan" - a phrase that, if I were Turkish, might lead to my arrest. The world has turned its back on the Kurds more times than I can count, and there are signs that America is planning to betray them again.

The United States was so desperate to bribe Turkey into its coalition that it was willing to allow tens of thousands of Turkish troops into Iraq's Kurdish areas. And Washington still seems ready to acquiesce in this.

The Turks, having broken the back of Kurdish resistance within their borders, plan to expand their efforts and "disarm" Iraq's Kurds to block their control of oil fields. How can America allow this? Aside from the sheer immorality of presiding over what is in effect a Turkish invasion of peaceful Iraqi Kurdistan, such an incursion risks warfare between Kurds and Turks that could spill into Turkey as well.

"The Turkish government has been far worse to the Kurds than Saddam has," one well-educated Kurd said bitterly. His comment stunned me, for Turkey never used poison gas or conducted mass executions as Saddam did, but one Kurd after another said the same thing. They described past Turkish military techniques like raping wives in front of husbands, or assembling villagers to watch men being tied and dragged to their death behind tanks, and they noted that Turkey had been less tolerant of Kurdish language and culture than Saddam.

President George W. Bush is motivated to invade Iraq partly, I believe, by a deeply felt horror of Saddam's repression. But if American claims to be acting on behalf of the people of Iraq are to have credibility and moral legitimacy, Washington must try to stop Kurds from being slaughtered not only by its enemies in Baghdad, but also by itsfriends in Ankara. And America should certainly not acquiesce in such steps as a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq, which could trigger a new spiral of clashes and repression in Turkey.

How could a warm and friendly country like Turkey, which has made genuine progress on human rights and deserves a place in the European Union, be so harsh to its Kurds? Turkey's horror of a flourishing Kurdistan derives from its "Sèvres syndrome," named for the French city where Western powers tried to dismember Turkey after World War I. Ever since then, Turkey has seen accommodation as a slippery slope toward national disintegration. There had been progress toward reconciliation in recent years, but now the prospect of war in Iraq has revived old suspicions and hatreds.

While Bush has been eager to take note of Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds, the West has never been so outraged by similar Turkish atrocities. More than 30,000 people died during the years of fighting between the Turkish government and the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party; both sides were brutal, murdering civilians and engaging in torture and terrorism. Turkey also forced at least 500,000 Kurds to leave their villages at gunpoint. Excellent reports on Turkey by Human Rights Watch say that some refugees who have tried to return to their homes recently have been shot by government-armed thugs.

Southeast Turkey still feels like a police state. I traveled to one remote town to interview a Kurdish man who had been beaten by the police in front of neighbors, doused with gasoline and then set on fire - he survived. His family was so terrified to see a foreign reporter and risk another police nightmare that they sent me packing.

Only one Kurdish man was not afraid to be named: Abdurrahim Guler, 37, who has endured repeated bouts of torture and death threats. In one brutal session, he says, the commander called out, "Bring in the stick," used to rape men. "You can use your stick," Guler says he shouted back. "I still won't talk even if you use a minaret!"

Now something even grimmer is bearing down on the brave Kurds: Turkish tanks, like the one that sent me fleeing, but waves of them. I feel sick at the thought that America is about to betray the Kurds, again.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,191 • Replies: 25
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 08:15 pm
Makes me feel sick too.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 09:33 pm
in many ways the Kurds are like the Kashmir people lost in a nation that does not want them but wont let them be.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 09:37 pm
The Kurds are asked to accept that our future course in their regard will be disimilar to their experience of our previous practice. Their scepticism is fully warranted, IMHO.



timber
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cobalt
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 09:39 pm
Ah, you must be talking about "little people". We big-time American Republicans don't "do" little people.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 10:07 pm
There are so many examples of people being done this way all over the globe, that I can only express my anger and sorrow. America has a position unique in world history to be a rallying point for humanity to throw off the shackles, but there are no leaders of vision and no public drive to see any of it gets done.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 10:24 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
America has a position unique in world history to be a rallying point for humanity to throw off the shackles,


I don't believe this is all that unique an opportunity in America's History.
We can at least hope this one may be not squandered as have so many of its progenitors.

We have, sadly, a very poor track record in such things. It seems to me America is big on both noble intentions and general disappointments when it come to these things.

I will hope for the best. I will not count on it. I have been disappointed before, many times, and as have been many others.


Knowing history can be a burden.



timber
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2003 10:53 pm
Our last best chance was perhaps WWII, but only now are we truly a clossus who bestrides the narrow earth, with the kind of reach and influence we have. I am not well educated in the matter, and may stand to be corrected.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Mar, 2003 06:50 pm
dyslexia wrote:
people lost in a nation that does not want them but wont let them be.


that's a very succinct and striking summary of the sad fate that has struck so many peoples this past century. thx.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2003 05:31 pm
Came across this article while replying, in another thread, to cjhsa. He brought up the issue of Saddam gassing the Kurds in his defense of the war, but apparently didn't know when that had in fact happened, as he tried to blame Clinton for condoning it. (The chemical attacks on the Kurds took place in 1987-88, when Bush was president.)

Anyway, many of you will know the story already but this is a short, clear summary of what the Kurds experienced under Saddam's terror.

http://mondediplo.com/1998/03/04iraqkn

what shocked me most - even though i already knew - was to again read how, half a year after the saddam regime gassed thousands of kurds in an ethnic cleansing drive that eventually would have over a hundred thousand kurds go missing, the world's great powers hurried to safeguard iraq from any official condemnation.

i mean, of course the violence itself is the most shocking, but with a dictator like saddam, it's almost a given, whereas i'm always again startled by the unscrupulousness of our own democratically elected leaders.

to be clear about it: the major protectors of saddam's ass were today's major opponents: france - and the US, where president bush personally exercised his veto to stop sanctions against saddam.

"In August 1988 the United Nations Sub-Committee on Human Rights voted by 11 votes to 8 not to condemn Iraq for human rights violations. Only the Scandinavian countries, Australia and Canada, together with bodies like the European Parliament and the Socialist International, saved their honour by clearly condemning Iraq. [..]

In America, a resolution urging sanctions against Iraq was tabled by Senator Claiborne D. Pell and passed by both Houses of Congress. It was vetoed by President Bush. The White House even granted Baghdad a further loan of a billion dollars."
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2003 08:41 pm
nimh: i in no way diminish what happened to the kurds and our very ugly response, but i would like to note that one of the very worst human massacres of native america peoples occured Nov 29, 1864 when Col John Chivington with the blessing of then Govenor Evans literally slaughtered men, women and children with zero provocation, butchering the bodies, parading body parts, specially female genatalia through the streets of Denver Colorado. Then the government errected a monument to said Col Chivington that remained at the Captiol of the State of Colorado until 6 months ago, thats 138 years. Neither the State nor Federal government has brought themselves to recognise this grossly inhumane act and this past year a private citizen bought the land where this massacre occured then donating it to the native americans so that they could erect their own monument. sorry if i digress.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Mar, 2003 02:49 pm
According to the BBC right now, Turkey has declared it will send Turkish forces into North-Iraq.

At the moment Turkey has not allowed US troops to use its border with Iraq as a second front, which means that from the North now only Turkish troops, and no American troops, will be going into the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

From the first post here you may understand what this means to Kurds. The Kurdish leaders have said they won't tolerate those Turkish troops, and will resist.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Mar, 2003 02:51 pm
**** happens
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Mar, 2003 03:17 pm
Thank you for this information, NIMH - I had a much vaguer idea of it previously.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 Mar, 2003 03:35 pm
Well, in the present case, we just may not feel an obligation to reward Turkey for the use of the territory we didn't get to use.

We didn't do much for the Sheite population in southern Iraq in the Basra area last time around, either.
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frolic
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2003 01:38 pm
BBC
Turkey confirms buffer zone plan

Gul says refugees would be kept in buffer zone. Turkey's foreign minister has confirmed that Ankara is planning to deploy troops in a 20-kilometre (12-mile) buffer zone inside northern Iraq if a "crisis situation" develops.

Earlier Turkish plans to move troops into Iraq have caused alarm in the US and EU.

They fear that Iraqi Kurds could fight back against the Turkish presence, sparking a "war within a war".

But there are signs that a compromise could form around the plan for a buffer zone, which Turkey says is necessary to aid any refugee crisis and protect its own security interests.

"We want to keep all of the refugees there," Mr Gul said, stressing that Turkey was keen to avoid a repeat of the refugee crisis seen in Turkey in the first Gulf War in 1991.

"This is not a populated area and this area... is for security reasons. If the need is there, this is our plan."

Asked how many soldiers Turkey deploy, Mr Gul said it would depend on "the need".

Nato ambassadors in Brussels were briefed on the plan by Turkey's ambassador to the alliance.

A Nato spokesman said the ambassadors had noted that there was no significant refugee flow towards the border at present.

He said they would review the situation if refugees started heading for Turkey in large numbers.

Mr Gul acknowledged that talks between Turkey and the US on the issue of a Turkish involvement in northern Iraq had not yet resulted in agreement.

"We will continue our discussions in the coming days," said US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday after a second day of talks.

The United Nations is already moving aid supplies to border area
"This is a difficult and complicated issue."

Correspondents say Turkey would reserve the right to go beyond the buffer zone if it believed Iraqi Kurds were moving towards establishing an independent state.

The US has publicly warned Turkey not to cross into Iraq.

A senior US official quoted by AP said the goal of Mr Khalilzad's talks was to keep any large Turkish troops out of the area.

The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, attended the meeting of the North Atlantic Council where Turkey briefed Nato ambassadors in Brussels.

An EU spokesman said Mr Prodi had been assured that Ankara had no intention of launching a military operation in Iraq.

The Commission is expected to double financial aid to Turkey this week.

Turkey has maintained a military presence in Iraq for years, in its battle against Turkish Kurdish insurgents.

It fears that moves towards Kurdish independence in Iraq could create unrest in its own Kurdish areas.

The head of the Turkish army, General Hilmi Ozkok, was inspecting troops near the border on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2003 04:53 pm
I translated and posted a moving testimony of a Kurdish-Iraqi refugee on the "Iraqi exile views" thread - see http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=180872#180872
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2003 05:17 pm
"How could a warm and friendly country like Turkey, which has made genuine progress on human rights and deserves a place in the European Union, be so harsh to its Kurds?"


Apparently this guy wasn't actually in Turkey although he claims he was... "warm and friendly"??????? He must have gotten confused and lost somewhere.. Turkey hasn't been "warm and friendly" in centuries. How can Turkey be so harsh toward the Kurds? Ask any Armenian....
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2003 06:48 pm
fishin', who are you referring to?

my link, in case it didnt work, was intended to refer to the two-part posting of Ibrahim Selman's piece. It's impressive.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Apr, 2003 07:18 pm
I was referring to the author of the article. I know a few thousand people that have been to and/or lived in Turkey and never once have I ever heard anyone refer to Turkey as "warm and friendly" before. It's like referring to Greenland as "balmy" - it just doesn't happen.
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