NORTH KURDISTAN (TURKEY) FETULLAH GUELEN, or : Who is the biggest obstacle to the Kurdish peace process in Turkey?

By Dr. Aland Mizell  – 27.8.2012 –  And what is the role of the Kurdish people in the new Middle East Projects?

For a long time, there have been intense clashes in the Middle East between the attacking Kurdish rebels’ Kurdistan Worker Party (PKK) and the Turkish Security Forces. This month has seen the longest wave of attacks since 1984, battles which have claimed thousands of lives so far. The Middle East is burning, and the oppressive regime again is looking at the outside causes of the fire but has never looked at its own negligence. So who is the biggest obstacle to the Kurdish peace process? Are Gulenists the biggest obstacle to Kurdish autonomy and the peace process? Or are the Kurds themselves the largest impediment to Kurdish autonomy? Is the BDP, the PKK, or the AKP party the greatest barrier to the Kurdish peace process?

The war on the Kurds has been going on for a long time, but what we see today is the intensification of the war: psychological warfare, media propaganda, threats and assassinations, kidnapping, and bombings. What other sorts of evidence does an observer need to believe that the Turkish government and their allies have already started their war against the Kurds? All of these acts of aggression and belligerence are taking place while an intensive media operation against Kurds is on track, and the Gulenists media moguls affiliated with the hawkish, pro-Gulenists think-tanks in the United States are malevolently portraying a biased and distorted image of the Kurds to their people with the aim of laying the groundwork to get rid of the democratically elected BDP political party, the sole defender of Kurdish rights.

The BDP represents the only Kurdish party that does not bow to Gulenists’ demands or to anyone who refuses to obey Gulenists’ ideology and Turkish-biased policy. What the issue is here is that Kurds refuse to be enslaved to the theocratic system headed by the Gulenists’ Turkish/ Islamic thesis. Let me be clear; I condemn the killing and whoever participates in it, but also I do not trust the Turkish government or the religious groups who claim that they are going to bring peace and justice on the earth.

The Kurds have faced one incontrovertible fact of real politics. They have no genuine predictable friends or allies in the Middle East. Kurds have historically tried to form allies with outsiders, but often they choose the wrong allies. Over the years the Kurds have looked for support from the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, and the European Union. Most often these allies have decided that it was in their interest to drop the Kurds in favor of the regime the Kurds were against. Most often, when they asked for help from outsiders, the outsiders accused the Kurds of being agents of foreign powers, but today Turkey is seeking help from the European community and the United States to accomplish its aspirations, particularly those related to the Kurds.

The Kurds have many enemies for a variety of reasons, and they have had for a long time. However, among the obstacles to Kurdish independence have been the Kurds themselves. The oppressors have kept the Kurds divided into hostile and mutually suspicious factions, so that Kurds will not be united to seek their own national interests. The oppressors know the rules of the game well because they play them all the time with the “divide and conquer” strategy used successfully. The main Kurdish problem is often that they have failed to be united and failed to learn from history the lessons that it is easy to trust the smile of bad allies.

For example, the Gülen movement opens up civic institutions in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, indoctrinating thousands of Kurdish children with his ideology and establishing free tutoring centers for poor students, more than twenty private schools, a university, and hospitals in the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government. A rapidly expanding economic relationship between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the prospects and challenges Turkey faces as it tries to exploit this economic relationship to gain political leverage over the KRG is potentially a very powerful political weapon, but it is a weapon that Turkey will use in the future against the KRG. Turkey makes the KRG depend on it. The expanding relationship raises security questions, particularly for the KRG. Turkey will exploit the economic relationship with the KRG in ways that could undermine Iran’s role in the Middle East and the PKK’s long standing opposition to either side, thereby unilaterally or coercively altering the status quo across the region. Turkey and Iran are competing for leadership in the Middle East, and the only obstacle for Turkey to become the hegemonic power is the PKK. As a result, Turkey is using economic weapons to reduce the PKK’s presence there socially, politically and economically. Is this healthy for the KRG? It can be discussed.

The possibility of economic weapons or sanctions is an inevitable consequence of the establishment of economic relations. Without economic exchanges, there would be no economic weapons or sanction at all. Gulenists see the Kurdish question as an economic issue; Gülen himself believes that once a ruling power solves the Kurds’ economic problems, that the Kurds will be fine. Consequently, Gulenists are using the card of the Sunni religion to get close to the KRG and to make sure the KRG will not support the PKK as well as will not ally themselves with Iran. Therefore, an economic jihad is the most powerful jihad for Gülen, so with this weapon his followers opened the Albaraka Bank in Erbil, the fourth Turkish bank that is active in Erbil. The KRG is entangled with a poisonous snake. The KRG oil pipelines and infrastructure from KRG to Turkey are extremely important yet not without dangerous consequences.

In regard, then, to the main cards available for regional players, they have: 1) the reduction of the PKK’s influence in the region; 2) the KRG’s independence; 3) the KRG’s economic dependence on Turkey rather than on Israel, Iran or western countries; 4) the impetus to convince the KRG not to support the PKK until Turkey eliminates the PKK, the BDP, and the KCK; and 5) semi-autonomy of the Kurds in Turkey. But, at the same time, Gülen asked the Turkish military and its overt and covert allies, to destroy all the PKK members, saying that he wished that their homes would be burned down. He estimated the number of members to be 50,000. Not only that, but his media and lobbyist groups daily and nightly worked to close Roj TV in Europe and even went after any civic organizations that defend Kurds. By contrast, Gulenists’ school curriculum is antagonistic toward nationalism, but Turkish nationalism is the exception. His followers are not permitted to be nationalistic, but ironically they can promote Gulenists’ ideology and be loyal to Gülen and to Turkey.

Since 2006 Turkey/Gulenists have been putting their hands on the KRG’s resources, and now they are working all together to reach their goal of controlling the KRG. The reason the KRG is important is because of its economy. Actually it would be easy for Turkey to accept the Kurdish region in Northern Iraq, in other words, the independence of the KRG, and then it would be not be difficult for them to overthrow the Barzanis. The coup would be simple because there is so much division, despair, and corruption within the Kurdish region. After the takeover, the Turkish Gulenists can put in place their own puppet president. That is the strategy on the Gulenists’ and Turkey’s top future agenda. Turks have always determined that Mosul should be part of Turkey in accordance with a national pact. Ankara also sought to deploy the Turkic card as a means to undermine the Kurdish claim to Kirkuk by insisting that Kirkuk belongs to a multi-ethnic community, thereby precluding an exclusive Kurdish claim to the city of Kirkuk.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” The Kurds should prepare. The recent developments in the Middle Eastern countries are unprecedented. These developments will determine the future path of the Kurdish people. Today’s world is in a transition, and it is going to be very different from what it has been in the twentieth century. In today’s globalized world the power to this point wielded by national governments has significantly declined. Some of this power is passing on to the supranational agencies like the UN and its subsidiaries. Some power is going to sub national ethnic, linguistics and religious groups as the weakening of nationalism occurs. As a result, this provides more opportunities for minorities. But the Kurdish minorities could doubly benefit, because our world is increasingly becoming without poles. Instead of super powers we have major players. Most of the Kurds live in the Middle East and increasingly are becoming important for the destiny of major powers. The features of these changes are economic betterment and increasing self-reliance in the management of social, economic, and political affairs. How much are the Kurds themselves responsible for the current state of insignificance? What prevents them from playing the desired role at the present is the greater Middle East project. This project gives a great chance to the Kurdish people to be an inclusive and major voice while they prosper economically too.

This historical moment should be the demise of the idea that Turkey belongs only to the Turks. Kurds should maintain vigilance in the face of the plot to bury the Kurdish issue. All Kurds should be vigilant about the dangerous plot to hide the main issue of the Kurds from view and to create a false reality through provoking division among the Kurds and other people for the agitator’s own interests. Turkey is trying to cause division among Kurds by playing up insignificant religious differences, by creating false threats, and by fabricating realities. The Kurdish people should focus their efforts on maintaining and promoting unity and brotherhood, and not trust the will of the major power in the region. They have played this same movie before, and they are re-running it again. Since the creation of the PKK all of the Turkish party, Islamic groups, and secular groups have defended the same line. Why should I believe what the Turkish governments says is the truth?

What if the recent bombing in the province of Gazi Antep was an inside job – a definite possibility because the PKK did not claim the bombing but rather condemned it? In the past, for example, the Turkish military and government have done so many dirty works and assigned them to the Kurds claiming that the Kurds did them. Why should I believe this is not also the government doing it? Also, Gazi Antep is close to Syria, and one of Turkey’s main concerns is the Syrian Kurds because the current declaration of autonomy has made Turkey nervous; consequently, Turkey is using the current bombing as an excuse to create a safe haven by force. What is happening in Turkey the government is doing, but just claiming that the PKK has perpetrated the violence to increase rage and hate against the PKK and those who support the PKK or the BDP. Is the main goal of the Turkish government and those who defend the Turkish Islamic thesis and the government lie just to get their people to back them up? Could this be true because they know the BDP is the only party that could defend Kurdish rights in a democratic way? The irony is that the Turkish government and Gulenists label any Kurd who is struggling for his/ her freedom and basic rights a terrorist.

Due to arrogance and ignorance, most Turks do not understand why the Kurds are angry or even stop one minute to ask themselves who created the PKK or why the PKKs are in the mountains. Most Turks keep insisting the Kurds have obtained all their rights. It is true that Kurds do not have any problems in Turkey as long as they do not say, “I am a Kurd,” but once they state that identity, want to give a Kurdish name to their sons or daughters, or learn the Kurdish language and culture, then there is a problem. Most Turks read history selectively. They do not see the colossal damage the Turks have done to the Kurdish heritage, history, culture, and even religion. Most of the Turks have not read Kurdish history, particularly not from the side of the victims of their oppression. They have also not read the chronicles of their own rulers and generals about how they oppressed and deprived the Kurdish people of life and liberty.

I believe Gülen and his followers are going to be the biggest obstacle to the Kurds autonomy and also the greatest impediment to the peace process, beginning with the PKK because Gülen and his followers within the state believe that the military is the solution to the Kurdish problem. Whereas the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is pro dialogue and negotiations with the PKK, these Gulenists say they are really pro dialogue but, if they are, then why are they against Prime Minster Erdogan’s ordering the MIT to negotiate with the PKK? And why do the Western countries buy into this deception? Turkish society operates in a highly polarized, political climate, one flooded with conspiracy theories on any given topic. Hence facts are often lost amid speculations. Recently, a frequent target has been the BDP and those who support them. For three decades Turkey has disseminated misinformation, but has still not been successful, so now Turkey is trying the same game to kill more of its own citizens but to make it appear as if the PKK committed the acts in order to make civilians not support the PKK. Turkey well knows that as long as Kurdish citizens support the PKK, Ankara cannot defeat the PKK militarily.

The second aim or goal of the Turkish government is to make the BDP in conflict with the PKK, thereby dividing them, but the BDP cannot have credibility without the PKK, and the PKK cannot have more support without the BDP. Therefore, the only solution to the Kurdish problem is not a military but rather a political solution; it is not economical freedom but rather social freedom that is needed. The Gülen movement is more dangerous to the Kurdish movement than others, since he is a master at tickling both religious and nationalistic hormones to attract and manipulate masses. Gulenists have already indoctrinated lots of poor Kurdish kids in Turkey, and now they are continuing to do so in the KRG region. Gülen is teaching Kurdish children that Turks are God’s chosen people to represent Islam and to rule the world, bringing peace and prosperity. However, Gulenists, like their Imam, have several personalities. The first personality, which is the visible one and the one known by the people, is that of a humble, spiritual leader, loving and even more, tolerant. Another personality of the Gulenists is that they desire to have total control and domination using the Machiavellian principles of forging secret plans and establishing political alliances through soft power to pursue his long term goal of bringing back a Sunni theocratic Ottoman Empire.

Gülen truly believes that Arabs, Persians, Asians, and others do not represent Islam well; Turks are the best representative of Islam and indeed the chosen people, promoting a purification of Islam. For Gulenists there is no Kurdish problem and only in a few things there are problems, so he thinks the main problem is economic. The reason behind this conclusion is that it could be remedied easily. However, Gulen prayed passionately for the destruction of the PKK and those who support it. Surely, any human being would not want innocent people to be killed, and I too condemn all the killings whether perpetrated by the PKK or the military, but the problem is a religious leader who advocates tolerance, harmony, peace, and love but promotes more hate and encourages more killing. Therefore, this kind of approach is the main obstacle to peace. A struggle that has gone on for decades, one that has seen too much hate and distrust, can make it hard to imagine that the Kurds will or can live under the sovereign authority of the Turks, Arabs, or Persians unless forced to do so. The only solution to this problem will take either the form of semi autonomy or federalism.

Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to the Kurdish Media. You may reach the author via email at: