Having suffered a serious setback at the general elections on 7 June, President Erdoğan declared a brutal war against Kurdish people. This is the so-called ‘Plan B’ of Erdoğan and his ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party). They aim to form a government on their own after new general elections are due in early November, by whipping up anti-Kurdish sentiments in the hope of dealing a blow to the pro-Kurdish HDP (People’s Democratic Party) and reinforce Erdoğan’s authoritarian powers. The President made his ambitions explicit when he declared,“None of this would have happened if we had won 400 seats in the parliament”.
In the meantime, the situation on the ground is worsening by the day. Yesterday, Tuesday 8 September, some 126 offices of the HDP across the country were attacked, burnt or ransacked by mobs, mainly linked to the far-right MHP (Grey Wolves) nationalists and to the ruling AKP. Many Kurdish people and activists have also been under attack, in an apparent lynch campaign. The Turkish police, which has dramatically stepped up its repression against the activities of the left in recent weeks, took hardly any action against the assailants.
These attacks mirror the ongoing war perpetrated by the Turkish regime in the Kurdish south east.They are the direct result of the provocative statements and the unabated war drum-beat of Erdoğan’s ruling clique and its bloody assault on Kurdish areas. Hundreds of guerilla fighters linked to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) have been killed and a growing number of civilians too. Many young working class Turkish conscripts who have nothing to gain from this war have also died. Erdoğan and the AKP are, in effect, ready to enhance their own prestige and power through the blood of the Kurdish and Turkish people and at the risk of causing the country’s descent into a new civil war.
Such a prospect is dreaded by the overwhelming majority of both the Kurdish and Turkish population. Only a mass, organised and united movement of Turkish and Kurdish workers and youth can stop the ongoing carnage. Unfortunately, the revenge attacks of the PKK play in Erdoğan’s hands; they are also making the building of such unity much more difficult, and contribute to pushing a layer of the Turkish population into the arms of right-wing chauvinist reactionaries. Urgently the HDP, along with the trade unions and socialist organisations, should joint in their efforts to organize a large-scale response to the war, appealing to the working class, the poor and the youth across the ethnic divide. Mass protests and strikes should be called: against the AKP-led war, against racist attacks, against police repression and against terrorism in all its forms. Multi-ethnic and democratically organized initiatives should also be undertaken, in order to defend communities from future attacks.
The following statement was issued by Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI Turkey) on September 6th, before yesterday’s events.
Almost everybody knows that the Plan B of Erdoğan declared before the June 7th general elections has been unleashed. He wants to redeem the defeat of the AKP at the renewed elections that will be held on November 1st, by exploiting the ongoing chaotic atmosphere.
As a first step, Erdoğan ensured the reelections by circumventing the possibility of a coalition of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] with other bourgeois political parties. In parallel, he triggered the military and political operations against the PKK, and more than 100 districts (all of which are in the Kurdish region) have been declared “private security areas”. Curfew orders are still being executed in various cities including Varto, Yuksekova, Cizre etc. More than 150 soldiers, police, guerilla fighters and civilians have lost their lives already. Thousands of people have been detained, hundreds of which are still in custody, waiting for their trials. Evacuation of villages in the districts is continuing. There is no intervention to deal with the expansive wildfires started by intensive bombardment of warplanes – the state forces even prevented firefighters doing their job. City centers in the districts have been witnessing street fighting similar to what is happening in Syria.
The failure of forming a government, and the funerals of soldiers from the west of Turkey who died in the armed struggles, are strengthening the “that’s because there is no Presidential system” argument given by Erdoğan supporters to the masses who are in fear of a new internal war. The aim of the AKP and Erdoğan is to gain support of the masses by boosting Turkish nationalism, through the medium of soldier funerals on the one hand, and by pushing back the HDP under the electoral threshold by discrediting it, on the other hand.
Erdoğan has finished two years of disarmament and negotiation process by a very sharp U-turn last March. Just a few days before the negotiations were ended by the order of Erdoğan, a consensus on the ‘roadmap’ had jointly been declared by the government and by the “interviewing board” of imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, at Dolmabahce Palace on Februray 28th. In the follow up of this meeting, Erdoğan instantly contended that there is “no Kurdish question” left in Turkey. It is very well known that the reason of this brainwave is the opinion surveys that indicate the Kurdish voters have turned their back to the AKP, and were moving towards the pro-Kurdish HDP [People’s Democratic Party].
The AKP only employed the “peaceful solution” on the Kurdish question to pass through the critical junctures of local and general elections during 12 years of AKP governments, by making small concessions to the Kurds in order to tame their democratic demands. The June 7th general election was the last juncture before Erdoğan could guarantee the transition to a presidential system that would have given him autocratic powers. But mass opposition developed, especially in the last three years, against the corrupt, oppressive and antidemocratic government, and prevented this strategy being implemented. The AKP being the second party just after the HDP in the Kurdish cities was an important factor for sustaining its power for 13 years. But the anti-Kurdish approach of the AKP, especially against Rojava, unmasked it and ripped apart the illusions of its Kurdish supporters.
On July 20th, 33 young people were massacred in Suruc by ISIS militants, although İSİS has never undertaken responsibility of this action. The latest developments have created the suspicion that the starting point of Erdogan’s Plan B was this massacre. The provisional AKP government immediately launched a military operation against the PKK, ISIS and a small left terrorist group called the DHKP/C. Hundreds of people have been detained. The provisional AKP government has successfully created a perception that Turkey is under terrorist attack, and that their aim is to exterminate all terrorist organizations. However, after one or two ostensible but largely token air bombardments against ISIS forces, all bombardments have turned towards the areas of the PKK.
The attacks of the PKK are pushing the working class into the hands of right-wing nationalists
Two police officers were killed in their beds in Ceylanpınar, near Kobane, just two days after the Suruç massacre. The PKK has carried out this attack but afterwards it denied its involvement in it. But it was too late. Subsequently, the PKK has engaged in suicide car bomb attacks, like İslamist terrorist organizations, ISIS or Al Qaeda. Many commentators have remarked that the PKK is copying the terrorist attack tactics of ISIS. Every day, there are news reports of deaths because of the ensuing clashes. The media is showing the situation in the Kurdish cities with a one-sided perspective and limited coverage, but is making long live coverages of police and soldiers funerals, in order to exploit people’s emotions. For example, when the media is reporting news about civilian deaths, they do not give information about who is the attacker, so this kind of ‘news’ creates the one-sided perception that the PKK is responsible for all the civilian deaths. This situation causes growing anger at the PKK and this anger also targets ordinary Kurdish people.
The anger against the AKP is also growing and it can be observable through the recent army and police funerals. But this anger is being also used by far-right nationalists who are supporting the war against Kurdish people. Those nationalists criticize the AKP, not for stopping the peace negotiations, but for making concessions to the Kurds and for not striking them hard enough. Everybody speaks out about the approaching danger of civil war.
We are referring to civil war, like the Yugoslavian civil war, i.e. ethnic slaughter between the Turkish and Kurdish working class and poor. This kind of slaughter can be prevented only by working class unity. However, the tactics of the PKK are undermining such unity. Although the PKK has recently declared that this kind of attacks are not acceptable, ordinary people do not think that the PKK declarations are convincing.
The best way to prevent the ongoing onslaught by Turkish forces is through the building of a mass, united movement on both sides of the divide. By failing to advocate for such a struggle and continuing its targeting killings, the PKK’s calls for Turkish working class and poor not to go to compulsory military service will only fall on deaf ears.
Socialist Alternative unconditionally supports the democratic demands of the Kurds. This includes the right of secession. Whether they prefer secession or cohabitation, the Kurdish liberation struggle’s only ally is the Turkish working class. There is only one way to such alliance, it is to win over the working class. Two years without conflict have paved the way for the advance of such an alliance. The Gezi movement was an example of it, and the HDP’S sensational election victory another. What has to be done right now is to build the struggle upon this basis. “The rich will neither be soldier nor martyr” was told by a soldier who was giving solace to another soldier’s mother who had lost her son. This class approach exists in large sections of society, even if it remains intuitive at this stage. The Kurdish liberation struggle needs to be united with the struggle of Turkish working class. Following through this in Turkey may be a light out of all Middle-Eastern darkness.