Beyond the Cusp

October 3, 2017

Turkey, Erdogan, Andrew Brunson, Fethullah Gulen and the Kurds

 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the man of the week, something which may give him an air of importance, but this time it is for all the wrong reasons. First indignity comes with President Erdoğan having American Pastor Andrew Brunson arrested on charges of his being a “national security risk” for unspecified involvement in “terrorism” after his having resided in Turkey for the last twenty years plus doing Heaven’s work. This arrest came about three months after the July 15, 2016, coup and soon after initial attempts and other threats failed in having former Erdoğan friend, the man who assisted placing Erdoğan in power, now the presumed coup organizer and Muslim cleric with thousands of religious followers, Fethullah Gulen extradited. Now Turkey’s President Erdoğan has made, kind of informal, formal offer, to trade holy man for holy man. The Turkish elite power structure has made it rather obvious that once they have Fethullah Gulen that his life will have become uninsurable, as the only formality left will be the date of his execution.

 

Forgetting the obvious sham charges made against Pastor Brunson and the sickening stench of Erdoğan’s offer, what about the coup charges against Fethullah Gulen. There were a number of items troubling about the coup which we saw as we observed the unfurling of events. One of the most unexplainable was the fact that a pilot presumably with the coup was in his fighter and followed the president’s passenger executive jet for forty-five minutes without shooting a single shot or rocket to try and down the unescorted craft despite knowing that President Erdoğan was traveling on the craft. He never made any demand for the plane carrying the target of the coup to land at an airbase controlled by the coup organizers or take any action other than to notify the coup command that he was following the aircraft with the President confirmed to be onboard. The coup did not close down broadcast facilities, did not take over command and control facilities leaving them for the military to all but immediately put down the coup attempt. Deaths were higher after the coupe ended when rounding up and arresting thousands of people from government and military from lists which were reportedly prepared weeks before the coup attempt. Everything about this coup smelled of an amateurish set-up by the government under the orders of Erdoğan in order to arrest and remove political opposition before an upcoming election, or in this case, to smooth the path for a Constitutional Referendum which presented the President, which is Erdoğan, with unprecedented powers and permits him a path with an office from which he would become a virtual dictator. The coup removed virtually all opposition to the Constitutional changes.

 

Meanwhile, the Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen is in his mid-seventies, partially disabled, resides in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania in the area of the Pocono Mountains north-northwest of Philadelphia and a well known retirement area. Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania is not exactly the best place from which to run a coup in Turkey. First thing is the distance from Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania to Ankara, Turkey, the capital city, is 5,258 miles. Second, Gulen was initially one of the people who allied with Erdoğan initially putting him initially into power in 2002 or 2003 and never challenged him or had his party opposing Erdoğan’s rule. Where Erdoğan came to the conclusion that it was necessary to eliminate Gulen, a retired cleric with no political ambitions that are known, is beyond reason or explanation. Taking Erdoğan’s desires for Gulen’s death as a given, then the arrest of American Pastor Andrew Brunson was simply a matter of being the person available in the wrong place at an inconvenient time. How long this trade has been in the offering is unknown. What is known is that the entire offer for an exchange of an innocent American Pastor for Gulen is an offensive offer while knowing that Erdoğan intends to have Gulen tried, convicted and executed all nice and neat and filled with legal appearance all in a public forum with witnesses and formal charges all already scripted. But Erdoğan’s perfidy does not end with Gulen, and nor does the world’s.

 

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Muslim Cleric Fethullah Gulen

 

Let us look at the recent declaration by the Iraqi Kurdish population. In a referendum where 72% of the population voted and 92% voted to declare independence which computes to 66.24% of the total population even if everyone who did not bother to vote would have voted against, a highly unlikely scenario. So, it is not improbable or an exaggeration to claim that over two-thirds of Kurds in Iraq would prefer living in their own nation. Such an idea should not be difficult, as they had been promised the reconstituting of Kurdistan after World War I for their assisting the allies against their Ottoman enemies. The valor shown by the Kurds against the Ottoman-Turks is part of the reason for the enmity between the two peoples. When the Sykes-Picot Treaty was enacted and the nations drawn up after World War I and colonized instead of by the Ottomans who had ruled the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for over six-hundred years and by the Caliphate of the Arabs for five hundred years before that, simply put, there were many, many tribes and peoples who after being colonized, conquered by the Romans and the Greeks before that and earlier by Persia and previous to that Babylon who were really hoping their nations would return as the Europeans had promised. The Arabs also had dreams of having their Caliphate returned, as they had believed it had been usurped by the Ottomans. These tribes were cheated by the colonization by the Europeans and then cheated when the Europeans retreated and in virtually every case, they returned rule over to the Arabs ignoring the claims of the tribal indigenous peoples. Amongst the tribes were the Jewish People, Kurdish People, Berber Tribes, Druze Tribes, Bedouins, Nubians, Arameans, Phoenician-Carthaginians, Egyptians and numerous other tribes. Of these peoples, a few were promised their own lands amongst which are the Jews who reestablished their state of Israel on May 15, 1948, and the Kurds who were amongst those disenfranchised by the Sykes-Picot Treaty.

 

So far, the referendum by the Kurdish was opposed by Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, most of the European states and the United States State Department. The reason Iraq is against the referendum is obvious as these Kurds who were responsible for the referendum are all from the Autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq. Their autonomous region has been pretty much ignored by the Iraqi government which spent little to no funds in support of either the Kurdish region, the Sunni central region or even to assist and save the Yazidi when they were trapped by the Islamic State (ISIS at that time) who had transmitted videos of their torture of many Yazidis and worse to their young women and the sole people in the world who assisted these Yazidi tribespeople were the Kurdish Peshmerga Militias who did a herculean effort to channel the trapped people to safety and have cared for these people as well as taking in many Sunni women and children who also were escaping from the Islamic State which conquered large areas of central Iraq. The Iraqi central government barely rules anywhere in Iraq outside the Shiite southern region and have only projected force into the central area since the Kurdish Peshmerga Militias initially stopped the Islamic State and pushed them back opening the way for the push to retake Mosul where the Kurdish forces were critical in the effort. Now that they have held this historic referendum, though having declared that they have not planned any action, are being threatened and demanded by the Iraq government to close all airports and surrender their borders to Iraqi forces. Basically, the Iraq government is demanding the Kurds simply surrender the lands and freedoms they have had, defended, protected and liberated from Islamic State regions all because they had a nonbinding referendum to measure the desires of their own people and had made no effort to enact or change their status. This attempt to cow them and make them knuckle under to a show of force and demands that they now forget their autonomy which they have enjoyed for the last decade plus, it just may end up backfiring forcing the Kurdish to decide to take the necessary steps to declare their independence.

 

Threats from Turkish President Erdoğan has also threatened the Kurds with closing their borders, ending the lucrative flow of oil from the Mosul oil fields through Turkey, and other moves to deter and intimidate the Kurds in efforts to dissuade the Kurdish Autonomous Region from declaring their independence. There have been rumored threats in Turkey against their own Kurdish population should the Iraqi Kurdish region declare their independence from Iraq. Iran also has a Kurdish population plus there is a somewhat autonomous region of Kurds in Syria which, with some assistance from their Iraqi brothers and sisters, stopped the Islamic State drive towards the Turkish border. Somewhat less known, was that much of the Turkish efforts which were claimed to be against the Islamic State actually targeted the Kurdish regions of northeastern Syria. This reached a point of serious challenge to the Kurdish efforts against the Islamic State that President Trump had to threaten President Erdoğan if he continued to refuse to end his offensive against the Kurdish forces. That proved to be sufficient to bring to an end these attacks but one could imagine Turkey, especially with Erdoğan as their President, attacking not only his Kurdish population and those in Syria but even entering Iraq and attacking the Kurdish there as well, something that there were reports of Turkey crossing into Iraq to target Kurdish forces.

 

So, have there been any bright spots in the Kurdish story of their overwhelming voting for independence? Well, after having to refute the charges by Turkish President Erdoğan that the Israeli Mossad interfered in the Kurdish referendum, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stated Israel supports the establishment of a Kurdish state. Iraq’s Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani thanked the Israeli leader while repeating that the Kurds were not considering independence at this time. The remainder of the world has been either quiet or softly outspoken against the Kurdish referendum. The saddest thing was the United States refusing to back the Kurdish who has an operating democracy with many of the same freedoms prized by the people of the United States and share outlooks and efforts concerning the Islamic State and anti-terror operations in Syria and Iraq. We have stated before and proudly state once again that we favor the establishment of the nation of Kurdistan to include all the Kurdish regions willing to live under a democratic state based on individual rights, individual freedoms and an open capitalist economic model. The Iraqi Kurdish Autonomous Region has ruled such a region and respected the freedom of their people and shown great humanity which was most on display in their heroic actions in assisting the Yazidis who were trapped by the Islamic State and faced complete annihilation had nobody come to their aid. While the world rubbed their hands while doing little, the Kurdish Autonomous Region’s Peshmerga Militias that took steps and forced a wedge into the front lines opening an escape route for the Yazidis and then took in thousands of these victims of the Islamic State and has cared for them since. Many Yazidis are now residing within the Kurdish Autonomous Region enjoying their freedoms and likely also were taking part in the referendum. The Kurds are worthy of their own nation and the entirety of the Kurdish people may some day reestablish their homelands. In the meantime, should the Kurdish establish their independence they will face many of the challenges which Israel has faced in the past and to this day but can be assured that they will have a friend in Israel. We wish the Kurdish People the best and success in whatever their efforts in the future.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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