Kurdistan should not become a battleground for regional or global wars. It should be an inspiration for democracy and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.
In the shadow of the deadly worldwide pandemic, while much of humanity is occupied with protecting itself against COVID-19, some states are taking the opportunity to continue and even intensify their militarist, aggressive and occupation policies. Despite the ongoing global health crisis, violent struggles for hegemony continue in Kurdistan and the rest of the Middle East.
During the past century, Kurdistan’s geostrategic location, across four key occupying states, has turned it into a systematic battlefield. Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have all shared a policy of totally denying Kurdish identity, even as the international organisations and institutions have refused to extend legal, political, and diplomatic recognition of the Kurdish right to self-determination. As a result, Kurds have countless times become victims of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Parallel to this genocide, states have implemented feminicide as a special form of warfare against Kurdish women.
States attempting to implement their regional and global colonial policies have always used, as their dirtiest and most brutal tool, the exploitation of differences among those they wish to dominate; they have exploited internal disputes in order to divide and rule. The Turkish state, especially, insists on trying to weaken the Kurds, as it has done in the past, by stirring up internal Kurdish conflicts in Rojava and in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, in a divide-and-rule-and eliminate policy.
The Turkish state is now preparing to launch a major military offensive in the region of Zini Werte, close to the Qandil mountains in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq), located 40-50 kilometres from the Iranian border. As part of its preparation, it is putting pressure on local Kurdish political forces to deploy Kurdish forces there, as proxies. The Turkish state believes it can incite Kurds to fight Kurds, with the further goals of weakening and destabilizing Kurdish political institutions and ultimately occupying ever more of Kurdistan.
Turkey is a member of NATO, the United Nations, the Council of Europe. It is a candidate for membership in the European Union. Yet it is flagrantly violating international law and agreements. The silence of these international organisations/ institutions allows the Turkish state to act unilaterally against Kurds. Indeed, their member states are using the Turkish state’s current hostility toward Kurds to further their own interests in the Middle East. By weakening the current Kurdish strategy for democracy, peace, and stability, they would further their attempts to gain hegemony in the region, even if that meant a continuation of war and conflict The current dispute in Zini Werte is not an isolated problem. Rather, it is one of many conflicts that could easily escalate and provoke bloodshed, especially if the United States, Iraq and NATO grant the Turkish military a free hand.
It is not solely an internal Kurdish matter. Given the context of US-Iran tensions and strife among various Iraqi groups, any seemingly localised aggression near Qandil could lead to aggression by Turkey and its jihadist allies as a strategy to broaden the occupation by Turkey or by the resurgent so-called Islamic State (ISIS). If any of these forces seek to fill the power vacuum, the result would be a larger regional crisis, in the hitherto relatively stable region of southern Kurdistan, and beyond.
The Turkish state’s ambition to attack and occupy areas outside Turkey’s borders is certainly well known, as we have seen in Turkish military aggression in Syria. The “Kurdish Problem” or the “Kurdish Question” thus concerns more than one people or one state and has farreaching local, regional, and global ramifications.
We believe that unity among your parties and movements in defence of Zini Werte and Qandil would not only benefit the Kurdish people but would also constitute a vital contribution to peace in the region. Furthermore, we believe that addressing the Kurdish Question is inextricably linked to promoting a democratic transformation of the Middle East.
Achieving a just and peaceful resolution to this issue could support democratisation in the wider region. We must not underestimate the potential impact of the Kurdish perspective on democracy and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East. It could contribute vitally to effecting and preserving democratisation in the key states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
In recent years North and East Syria/Rojava have offered a democratic alternative, with freedom, justice, dignity, and democracy and based on principles of equality. The Kurds, and particularly Kurdish women, have victoriously battled ISIS and established an impressive system of democratic self-administration in North and East Syria/Rojava. The central role played by Kurdish women in this struggle has become a global inspiration and a source of strength for women far beyond Kurdistan’s borders. Defending and protecting the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is thus imperative for democratisation of Syria and the broader region.
Since its foundation, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, a constitutional and internationally recognised Kurdish governmental entity, has been a thorn in the side of the Turkish state, which seeks to crush any and all national aspirations of the Kurdish people.
Turkish state regards any destabilisation or weakening of the KRG as a victory. The KRG, Iraq’s safest area, has been an important achievement for all Kurds, and we must work together to protect it through Kurdish national unity.
We as women see it as our duty to prevent war and defend peace and coexistence anywhere in the world. Finally we urge you: “Kurdistan should not become a battleground for regional or global wars. It should be an inspiration for democracy and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.”
Open Letter from Women to:
– Mr. Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
– Ms. Bese Hozat and Mr. Cemil Bayik, Co-Chairs of the Executive Council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)
– Mr. Lahur Talabani and Mr. Bafel Talabani, Co-Presidents of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)
Open letter published by Kurdistan National Congress on May 20, 2020.