Sunday, January 21, 2007

Turkey’s Threats and Kurdish Constitutional Rights - by Ardalan Hardi

The unrealistic approach of Turkey’s meddling in the Kurdish city of Kirkuk and Ankara’s threats on implementing Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution have created a political quagmire in President Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East region. It is clear that there’s nothing Ankara can do to stop the Kirkuk referendum. Yet Turkish government continues with its warnings and threats to further destabilize the region and derail the recent success of the Kurdish government in Iraq.

Turkey continually uses excuses like (PKK) Kurdistan Workers' Party or the Turks who are Iraqi citizens as a reason to legitimize its interference in Iraq’s affairs. Turkey now claims it acts to protect the Turkomen community in Kirkuk, but what Ankara’s government chooses to overlook is that the Turks that live in Iraq are Iraqi citizens not Turkish. Turkey has no legal grounds to tell the sovereign nation of Iraq how to deal with their citizens. Consider this, the U.S. has a large population of Mexicans that chose to leave their country of origin and live in U,S, By doing so, they gave up their rights as a Mexican citizen. Does Mexico then have a right to tell the U.S, government how to deal with its Mexican population when it comes to constitutional rights? The answer to that is very obvious.

Turks, Arabs, Kurds, and all other minorities in Iraq have to abide by and uphold the laws of the state. That law is the constitution that was voted in by the electorate of Iraq when they went to the polls on October 15 2005 and it was approved by a wide margin nationwide. That constitution includes the implementation of article 140. Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution indicates how to normalize the situation in the city of Kirkuk followed by a referendum on the fate of the province. Turkey has no legal grounds to create more obstacles or intervene in Iraq’s sovereignty.

The Bush administration already has their hands full with the current sectarian violence in the middle of Iraq. Turkey is adding to that problem. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül has been quoted saying “Iraq is a different country, but this does not mean we will remain aloof to the fate of our relatives there.” Mr. Gül, if this is not just propaganda to keep Iraq in a state of disarray, then why was the Turkish State so aloof when Turkmen of Kirkuk were suffering under Saddam regime in the 1980s? Furthermore, Mr. Gul, how would you feel if President Bashar al-Assad of Syria decided to interfere on behalf of their relatives in Adana, Mersin and Iskenderun towns of Turkey that are ethnically divided between Turks and Sunni Arabs.

Last week Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Iraq and said “Turkey will not sit idle if the Iraqi Kurds have control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.” That brought strong criticism by a Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) spokesman who said "we have heard for some time meaningless statements by some Turkish officials with their implied threats and we want to remind them that the Ottoman empire had fallen a long time ago and Iraq is not part of Turkey," told Voice of Iraq.

In my opinion, all these threats and warnings, in addition to wanting destabilizing of the Kurdish achievements in Iraq, Erdogan is trying to please the chauvinist nationalist and the military power to secure the presidential post in Turkey. The threats and changes in Erdogan’s views from the beginning of his term until now are directly tied to the upcoming election in Turkey.

No matter, what happens in Iraq with regards to article 140 it is up to the Iraqi people to decide on the future of Kirkuk and not Mr. Gul, Mr. Erdogan or the Turkish State.

1 comment:

BillDunc said...

As an interested observer of these issues I think your argument that recent Turkish threats are influenced by electoral considerations is very much spot on.
In my view the only real resolution to the Kurdish issue across the states of Syria,Iraq,Turkey and Iran is a mutli state conference to resolve the Kurdish issue in a way which does not threaten the territorial integrity of the existing states but allows states to develop "democratic confederalism" ( as pointed to by Ocalan) alongside these existing state structures. It seems to me that unless such a pan Kurdish solution within the context of existing states is developed there will never be resolution.
I have written a longer version of this view on my blog and would welcome your comments wether by way of agreement or disagreement.