PKK and Hamas: A tale of two terror camps

As Turkey supports Hamas and displays belligerence towards Israel, it’s time to examine problems Ankara has with the people whom it renamed “Mountain Turks” - aka the Kurds.

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Gerald A. Honigman,

Gerald Honigman.jpg
Gerald Honigman.jpg
Arutz 7

Recently, the Turks complained about the January 31, 2017 Washington placement of Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, on a terror watch blacklist. Ankara has supported Hamas substantially for years now, especially since the increasingly dictatorial Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) gained ascendency in the second decade of this century.

As the turmoil and chaos in adjacent Syria and Iraq continue, the Turks appear to have visions of at least partially recreating the borders of the former Ottoman Turkish Empire. Absent Washington and Moscow’s involvement, this might already have been a done deal by now, with the centuries-old rivalry between the Ottomans and Iran’s Safavid and Qajar Shahs over the region at play. Of course, Russia’s involvement here is also nothing new—both in pre-Soviet and post-Soviet days. Moscow was non-discriminatory when expanding its own imperial borders via those of other players.

While the AKP claims that it’s not really “Islamist,” Erdogan & Co. certainly have an affinity for at least some militant, fundamentalist Islamist groups—including ISIS and Hamas. It’s no accident that the border has been fluid for ISIS fighters moving between Turkey and Syria.

I began by relaying Ankara’s support for a group dedicated to the slaughter of Jews and their sole, resurrected, minuscule nation (note: geographically, thirty-eight Israels fit into Turkey; Israel’s population is about 1/11 its size with about the same 20% mix of Arabs to Jews  as Turkey’s 20-25% Kurds to Turks). From here on,  I will concentrate on a comparison between what Ankara faces regarding its own real or perceived threats and how Israel has handled what is, in reality, a far worse situation.

For quite some time, Turkey has wanted to have it both ways with Israel. And the Jews have let them get away with it.

The Turks have sought economic and military ties and have expected Jerusalem to help in their own matters of “internal security.” In turn, for a while (and possibly selling its collective soul) Israel obtained a powerful Muslim, but non-Arab, neighbor with which it could have somewhat reasonable relations…another place for young Israelis to visit. Of course, Jerusalem was also expected to allow Ankara to dictate terms of this relationship. Recall the Turks’ support of the notorious MV Mavi Mamara incident in 2010. 

The cost has been far too high. Specifically, Jerusalem has assisted alleged Turkish friends in the subjugation of a truly (35-40 million) stateless people, who pre-date both Arabs and Turks in the area by millennia, and are still struggling for basic human and political rights, the Kurds. While Israel has assisted Kurds in some ways as well, Israeli intelligence and weaponry have helped Ankara in its suppression, and--for a number of reasons--this must finally come to a halt.

Let's begin to check out at least some of the comparisons which need to be examined…

The assorted Arab enemies which Israel faces just among “Palestinian” Arabs (most of whom were newcomers into the original 1920 Mandate themselves), Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and so forth, have one goal -the destruction of both Israel and its Jews.

Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and the latter-day Arafatians of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) play the good cop “moderates” simply to milk dhimmi nations for billions while building up their own military, courtesy of Uncle Sam and others. Indeed, Arafat's Swiss bank accounts are legendary.

Bad cop Hamas is simply more honest. They get most of their gelt from the Iranian mullahs and the new, would-be Turkish Sultan. Look at both Fatah and Hamas websites in case you think there really is a difference in their ultimate plans for Israel.

On the overall balance sheet, an Arab state emerged after World War I on almost 80% of the original April 25, 1920 Mandate of Palestine. In 1922, most of the original territory–all the land east of the Jordan River–was handed over to Arab nationalism by Great Britain. So, right from the getgo, and contrary to Arab storytelling, most of the land was given over to Arab nationalism--not to the Jews.

Had Arabs accepted the next proposed 1947 partition, they would have wound up with almost 90% of the total area. They rejected it, because, in Arab eyes, no one except themselves had any rights at all in what they call “purely Arab patrimony” and the Dar ul-Islam.

Since those days, Israel (one half of whose Jews who are from refugee families who fled from the so-called “Arab” world) has made repeated attempts to reach peace via additional so-called land-for-peace measures. Palestinian Arabs (and most others as well) have rejected all such efforts to reach a real modus vivendi with their Jewish neighbors. The winds may be shifting a bit for some of them today, out of need, but only time will tell. Right now, for me at least, it simply looks like Arabs are looking to use Jews and Jewish blood and treasure instead of their own to ward off Persian boogeymen. So, that brings us to where we are today…

Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others  have been engaged in continuous efforts to eradicate Israel and its Jews by any and all means, and civilian targets have been the most sought after, for shock value.

How has Ankara dealt with its alleged Jerusalem “friend’s” attempt to deal with this violence?

By blaming Israel itself and expecting the Jews to simply put up with it.

On more than one occasion, the Turks have withdrawn their ambassador and have taken other measures in rebuking Israel for its defensive actions.

Israel has dropped thousands of leaflets; made phone calls to Arab non-combatants; gone house to house when long distance artillery and bombing would reduce the risk to its own 19-year-olds on the ground; etc. and so forth in attempts to avoid civilian casualties, while Arabs deliberately use their own non-combatants as human shields. And when Arabs fire at Israeli civilians from behind Arab civilians, they are committing a double war crime according to the Geneva Convention--which no one seems to care about. Has the United Nations ever brought this up?

Given all the above and more, it’s now time to examine problems Ankara has had with another people, those whom it renamed “Mountain Turks” (guess why?), aka the Kurds.

Kurds predate the Turks’ arrival in Turkey from central Asia by thousands of years. As Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula from the 7th century C.E. onwards and slaughtered, conquered, and Arabized lands and scores of millions of native peoples in all directions, Turks later did the same—minus the Arabization, though they themselves had also been Arabized in various ways. Like Jews in Israel, Kurds were there long before an Arab or Turk ever conquered their lands. The ancient Roman historians and those who came before them attest to that.

Roughly forty million Kurds live in the Middle East, and about 20-25% of Turkey’s population is Kurd…about the same mix of Arabs to Jews in Israel. The first Kurdish nationalist revolts in the area dated from the 19th century. Others would come as well, especially after London’s betrayal.

The emergence of powerful Turkish and Iranian rulers after World War I (Ataturk and Reza Shah Pahlavi) left tens of millions of Kurds stateless in the new age of nationalism in the region. Other peoples were gaining freedom and states of their own after the collapse of empires in the Middle East and Europe, but not Kurds.  A sure recipe for explosion.

After Great Britain won a favorable decision from the League of Nations in 1925 tying the oil of Mesopotamia’s predominately Kurdish north to the British Mandate of the same name and subsequently to the new Arab state of Iraq, promises earlier made in support of Kurdish independence were aborted, and the British militarily aided Arabs in squashing Kurdish dreams.

Kurds were betrayed  via a collusion of imperial British petroleum politics and Arab nationalism.  The British-led, most effective Arab fighting force which attacked a re-born Israel later in 1948, Transjordan’s Arab Legion, led by Sir John Bagot Glub, Glubb Pasha, explains why Arabs refer to the birth of an independent Kurdistan as “another Israel.”  And when Iraq’s Shi’a army, with Iran’s help, chased Kurds out of Kirkuk with American tanks,  who begin pumping oil again from there? British Petroleum, BP.

Unfortunately, Kurds have been used and abused by many players ever since—again, sadly including both America and Israel. Turks, at times, also used them to do their own dirty work vis-à-vis Christian Armenians and Assyrians. A good place to start for some review of the American travesty might be the late, great William Safire of The New York Times’s “The Sellout of the Kurds” op-eds in the 1970s. 

As World War I came to a close, a mere remnant was left of the former great Ottoman Turkish Empire and Ataturk’s Turkey was determined to see no further geographical losses. That being the case, in the age of nationalism, what was there to do with millions of non-Turkic people who predated them on the land?

In the Turks’ eyes, one could just rename and erase them as a people, outlaw their culture and language, intimidate, murder, and subjugate etc. (note: Arabic is the second national language of Israel, Arabs have their own schools, are members of the Knesset and courts, are free to curse Israel, side with other Arabs who wish it dead).

Kurds have frequently just been “Mountain Turks” ever since. Arabs have used these same tactics towards them as well. The Syrian Kurdish scholar, Ismet Cherif Vanly’s book, The Syrian ‘Mein Kampf’ Against the Kurds (Amsterdam, 1968) speaks volumes about this.

The militant (sadly, sometimes resorting to terror), originally revolutionary, Socialist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was born amid this subjugation of the Kurdish people, some 18 to 24 million of them in Turkey alone today.

Unlike Arabs, with almost two dozen states (carved out largely from non-Arab peoples’ lands), Kurds have been a truly subjugated, stateless people. They have suffered horrendously because of this condition--long before Saddam Hussein’s Arab Anfal Campaign slaughtered some two hundred thousand of them in Iraq in the 1980s.

At a time when the Turks are growing more hostile to America as well, threatening the closure of the American air base at Incirlik and such, think about what American bases set up in a friendly Iraqi Kurdistan might be able to do regarding not only Turkish ambitions but those of Iran’s as well.

Compare this Kurdish quest to the 22nd state Arabs are striving for at the sole state of the Jews’ expense, which would be, as we have seen, the Arabs’ second one in Palestine, not their first, which is Jordan.

Arabs renaming themselves “Palestinians” fools no one except those who want to be fooled,  and too many fit into that category. Zuheir Mohsein, as just one example, an official with the PLO's Executive Council, in his interview with the Dutch newspaper,Trouw, on March 31, 1977, stated, "there are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, etc.... It is only for political reasons that we now carefully underline Palestinian identity... this serves only a tactical purpose... a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel."

Palaestina was the name the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, bestowed upon Judaea after the Jews’ second revolt for freedom in 135 C.E. to rub salt into their wounds. It renamed Judaea the land of the Philistines, the earlier non-Semitic/certainy non-Arab, invading “Sea People” from Crete.

While Erdogan  vociferously supports Hamas and rants against Washington placing its current leader on a terror watch list, it must again be asked: What compromises did Turks make with their own real or perceived national competitors, such as and especially the Kurds?

Did Turkey agree to a partition with its own twenty million or so “Mountain Turks?”

The answer  is a glaring “no.”

Jews accepted repeated partitions with Arabs, resulting in the latter getting most of the territory--despite their lies.

Unlike Hamas and other Arab terror groups, the PKK was born not only out of this total denial of Kurdish rights, but the attempted eradication of the Kurds’ identity.  Arabs have done this to other perceived nationalist competitors as well, such as some forty million, native, pre-Arab Kabyle people, the Imazighen/”Berbers”.

Whatever its bloody sins are, the PKK (and its Syrian affiliate) has never sought the destruction of Turkey nor of its people. It has merely sought rights for Kurds--not “Mountain Turks”--which the Turks refuse to grant. Ironically, those are the very same rights that Ankara expects Israel to cede to those who would indeed destroy it if given but half a chance.








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