On the 2nd of December 397 MPs voted down decision to start airstrikes against IS in Syria, ipso facto pushing the country deeper into this bloody and chaotic conflict. Certainly the 13th of November Paris Attacks left no doubts that much more must be done to defeat Daesh organization and protect our societies from terrorism. But does it mean that the decision from the 2nd of December was right?
In his speech David Cameron gave us a number of 70,000 moderate fighters ready to combat IS on the ground, backed by UK war planes. Even before UK Parliament’s decision had been made all the medium around the country were wondering who actually are those ‘ready to act’ fighters. Now thanks to them we know. Unfortunately the truth is not as promising as David Cameron wishes it to be. But what caught my attention the most was the fact that hardly anybody asked ‘who’ are the fighters not included in the equation and ‘why’.
Of course the most extreme fractions, who share the same ideology as al-Qaida like Jubhat al-Nusra were not taken into account, but also… the Kurds. Thus those who so far were the most successful defending their land and retaking strategic territory (city of Kobane, Sinjar, Mosul dam) from Daesh. The decision not to cooperate was ‘officially’ made few days before UK MPs voted in Parliament, on 29 of November, during EU and Turkey Summit in Brussels. All 28 member states met with delegation from Ankara to discuss and make a decision regarding migrant influx to Europe. More than 1mln refugees reached European shores last year fleeing wars, regimes and terrorism, causing the biggest EU crisis since its’ beginning. With most members being reluctant to help solving the problem or almost totally refusing cooperation (with Hungarian PM Victor Orban saying that migrant crisis is ‘a not a European problem. It is a German problem’). Nevertheless the solution for this trouble is not only accepting refugees but stopping them from coming. Hence the deal with Turkey had been reached, really good deal, really good for Turkey. In exchange for halting or slowing big numbers of migrants coming to Europe, Ankara will get €3.2bl in cash and closer ties with EU, easing visa requirements for Turkish citizens, resumption of EU talks, regular EU-Turkey summits alongside with financial support for 2.3mln refugees living in Turkish camps. In practice Ankara is obligated to better patrolling its’ Aegean Coastline with Greece and cracking down on human smuggling. So this is official version and price, this is what we were told. However what also matters are the things and promises made behind closed doors.
It’s not a secret that Kurdish-Turkish relations are far from correct. Kurds are ethnically related to Iranian people and have been living in Middle East from more than 14 centuries. For all this time they lived under the foreign rule, assimilating with newcomers. However slowly this ethic group started to identify themselves as a separate nation. Unfortunately after collapse of the Ottoman Empire they did not get independence alike the others and their lands were split between 4 countries (Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran) leaving this nation separated and stateless. Nowadays Kurds got some rights in Syria, Iraq and Iran, but in Turkey their situation doesn’t seem to improve. Is estimated that there are around 15mln Kurds living in Turkey, which is 20% of whole country population where they have been suffering years of discrimination, repression and injustice. All of this resulted in creating PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in 1978 by Abdallah Öcalan. The organization which from its’ beginning was fighting for Kurdish independence, not necessarily in a peaceful way. What was the reason to place it between terrorist organizations by NATO and EU (but not by UN). So now when PYD (armed branch of PKK) is making advances fighting IS, for obvious reason Ankara is not too happy. If they successfully help the West to defeat Daesh their chances to get the state they desire will increase significantly. But also Kurdish position in the world would be much stronger, what with years could lead to greater rights for Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere, autonomy, ultimately referendum and independence. That is why Ankara is doing everything to stop Kurds to join those fighting in neighbouring Syria, at the same time failing to stop all the western extremists to join IS.
However, coming back to Europe. We are on our knees in front of Erdogan. The price to stop the migrants is extremely high and we will have to pay it for years to come. EU population of 500mln people failed to accommodate 1mln. This is a real crisis and a big shame.
‘”They urgently need Turkey, and without Turkey, they cannot possibly reduce the pressure on their borders,” said Jan Techau, the director of Carnegie Europe, a think tank in Brussels. Germany and the European Union are “playing nice” with Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Techau said, “when they pretty much all disdain him. It is an enormous political compromise. It is not pretty at all. But in the end, there really is not much else left.”’
(Merkel, While Refusing to Halt Migrant Influx, Works to Limit It. by Alison Smale, NYT, Nov. 28, 2015)