This plan was later formulated as a step by step strategy that is called the Mohawk Valley Formula. “The Mohawk Valley Formula was a corporate plan for strikebreaking to discredit union leaders, frighten the public with the threat of violence, use of local police and vigilantes to intimidate strikers, form puppet associations of ‘loyal employees’ to influence public debate, fortify workplaces, employ large numbers of replacement workers, and threaten to close the plant if work is not resumed.” (Wikipedia).
The strategy the businesses followed against the steel strikers in 1937 is the same strategy that today AKP, the ruling party of the Turkish government, is following against the Kurds, in general, and the PKK in particular. The aim is to marginalize the PKK and annihilate it over time. It is an irony that AKP is trying to suffocate the screams of the Kurdish freedom movement with simple corporate logic. The Kurdish question has existed for at least 200 years and the accumulated problems that have been squarely in front of Turkey during that period can not be solved with such a simple corporate logic strategy. This strategy will only deepen the conflicts and may end up in a civil war, with the Kurds against the Turks. Thus, all the Kurds and Turks must force the Turkish government to face the Kurdish problem immediately.
Consecutive Turkish governments have ignored the Kurdish Question for a long time; despite Turkey’s longstanding denial policies toward the Kurds, it has only recently admitted Kurdish existence, de facto not de jure. The “recognition” of existence came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, devastated, emptied villages, looting, rape, torture and other human rights violations; however, this recognition is not indicated in any written statement and did not go beyond a couple words mentioned in Turkish officials’ discourses in their visits to Kurdish cities, such as Amed.
After the coup in 1980, the Turkish military terrorized the Kurdish regions, burned villages, forced the Kurds to move to Western Turkey, raped and looted throughout the region. The creation of PKK is a reaction against such brutal Turkish annihilation policies against the Kurdish people. The Turkish government endeavored to wipe out Kurdish existence by physical destruction. Unfortunately, there was not any political or judicial way for the Kurds to ask for their rights and, thus, to defend themselves. Turkish laws and regulations did not reinforce equality but functioned as the tools to legitimate the annihilation policies. Kurds were not even considered as existing anyway. Under such oppressions and destruction, Kurdish youths soon founded PKK, a freedom movement, to defend themselves and their people against annihilation. For this reason, one Turkish government after another labeled PKK as “terrorists”. Always Turkey’s Kurdish policy is based on the Kurdish annihilation; thus, any resistance to such policies politically and militarily is brutally oppressed.
Although globalization internationalized the Kurdish Question, Turkey’s Kurdish policy--annihilationist policies--remained the same. It only adapted its lies to the new paradigm through national and international media. For this purpose, consecutive Turkish governments dictated to the media what should or should not be known by the people. Thus, the Turkish governments created a gigantic, bewildered herd within its boundaries, which neither can think nor can judge independently about Turkey’s most important problem, the Kurdish Question. Through the media, Turkish governments have brainwashed the majority of the Turkish people, partially assimilated the new Kurdish generations, covered and justified their Kurdish massacre under the policy called “War on Terrorism”.
Today Turkey’s ruling party, AKP, follows the previous governments’ annihilation policies. For this purpose AKP implements two major strategies to make its lies credible:
1- Using Turkish and International media,
2- Using alliances
a) Alliances with other countries
b) Alliances with political parties in Turkey
c) Alliance with military
d) Alliance with religious groups
1- Using Turkish and International media,
AKP uses the media to discredit and distort the truths about the struggle of the PKK both nationally and internationally. Recently, through new legislation, Erdogan, the AKP chairman and Prime Minister, can censor broadcasts related to “terrorism”. With this legislation, AKP aims to stop broadcasts deviating from mainstream media and hold a media monopoly about the news related to the Kurdish freedom movement or, in their words, “terrorism”. Thus, AKP will decide what the people should know or should not know about Kurds and the Kurdish Question. The anti-Kurdish propaganda imposed by all Turkish governments has created ultra-nationalistic masses of the people who consider themselves ethnically Turk. Such people even see an average Kurd on the street as a threat to their lives. In addition to a national media monopoly, AKP-affiliated TV channels, such as Ebru TV, TGRT, Samanyolu, and the like, also broadcast in other countries, mostly in the US and the EU. Through these channels, Turkey distorts the truth about the Kurds and PKK, and tries to create a basis of credibility for policies that are based on a denial of the Kurds, both nationally and internationally.
2- Using alliances
a)Alliance with other countries.
The AKP uses Turkey’s major strategic allies to make its anti-Kurdish policies recognized internationally. For this purpose AKP had several deals, mainly with the US, to accept the PKK as a terrorist group and to shut their eyes to Turkey’s inhuman policies.
The US –Turkey alliance started in the beginning of the Cold War. The US and Soviet Union (SU) were two powerful states which almost divided the whole world into two camps, capitalist versus communist. The world was turned into a chess board where the US and SU were the players and everyone else was a pawn. Turkey was a strategic pawn for the US. After the collapse of the SU, the US-Turkey alliance continued and events after 9/11, namely the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, gave a boost to this relationship.
The US is the sole super power of the world since the SU collapsed. Today, the US is seeking ways to maintain its “big brother” position, which favors and acquires great privileges to itself. The attacks of 9/11 created an incredible opportunity to be used as a pretext to intervene in strategic countries in order to align their policies to fit with the system that favors the US. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are two examples that are occurring in front of our eyes. However, there are several other operations that are being implemented covertly, such as the colorful revolutions in Ukraine, concerns about Darfur, the assassination of Benazir Butto, and the like. In all these incidents there is an aim: maintaining the status quo.
9/11 also created a new phase in the US-Turkey alliance; because the American “war on terror”, also known as Greater Middle Eastern Initiative (GMEI), put Turkey in such a “key country” position that the US would need to rely on it for the success of the GMEI. In March 2003, the US wanted Turkey to give permission to deploy US troops and move required munitions through Turkey; thus, it would be able to open a front against Saddam’s Iraq from the North. However, the US was too optimistic when it set all its war plans based on Turkey’s unconditional acceptance regarding the usage of its territory; because the AKP-led Turkish parliament refused to permit the US to use Turkish territory for the American war in Iraq. This rejection was a signal from Turkey about its dissatisfaction about the US-Turkey alliance. AKP wanted to take advantage of the Iraq War in a way that would allow it to bargain with the US for more privileges. The US was furious about the Turkey’s decision, but it was again the US which was invading another country to bring democracy. Since Turkey’s decision was a democratic decision, taken by representatives in parliament, the US neither could condemn nor could complaint about it. However, to insult Turkey, a few members of Turkish Special Teams got bagged in Iraq.
The current US failure in Iraq heightened Iranian-led Shia influence in the region. The only country that can counter balance Iran is its neighbor Turkey. This is another reason that the US needs Turkey. The AKP, on the other hand, knowing the US dependency on Turkey in the current political climate, pressured the US to take concrete steps against the Kurdish freedom movement, the PKK.
On November 5, 2007, Erdogan met Bush in the White House to make a deal. According to this deal the US would provide immediate intelligence to Turkey, allow it to make air strikes against PKK members in Northern Iraq, and close its eyes again to Turkey’s intensified abuses against the Kurds within Turkey’s borders. After the meeting with Erdogan, in addition to recognizing the PKK as a “terrorist” organization, the US declared it as a “common enemy”. In turn, as much as we know from different media sources, Turkey would keep the current US airbases open and, furthermore, it would allow the US to construct new bases close to the Turkey-Iran border. Thus, Turkey made the US to repeat its lies, based on Kurdish denial policies, and showed the US as a credible reference to other countries and their citizens in order to convince them that PKK was, indeed, a “terrorist” organization.
b) Alliances with political parties in Turkey
In the general election in July 2007, the AKP received 47% of the eligible votes throughout Turkey. Prior to the election, AKP gave the impression that it was willing to solve the Kurdish problem if voters made it the ruling party. Thus, many Kurdish voters cast their votes for the AKP. Unsurprisingly, the AKP is now misusing this mandate.
In Northern Kurdistan there were two main parties that received the most of the votes. One was the AKP and the other was the DTP, the pro-Kurdish party. After the elections, the AKP neither kept its promises about the Kurdish cause nor attempted to do so. Furthermore, it stood in a position to mediate or reconcile the other political parties in order to approve a parliamentary consensus for cross-border operations against the PKK. With the exception of the DTP, the AKP succeeded in receiving overwhelming approval for military operations from the other political parties. With this move, the AKP aimed both to marginalize the DTP in the parliament and forcefully silence the PKK.
Today, the DTP is under a severe political lynching campaign orchestrated primarily by the AKP, with the other parties willingly joining the campaign. Unlike the Turkish parties, the DTP was the only party in the parliament that opposed the use of military force in general, and cross-border operations in particular. Rather, it suggested achievable democratic solutions for solving the Kurdish Question. However, since the solution of Kurdish Question would end the dominance of the Turkish generals and the parties that benefit the status quo, the DTP labeled as the “separatist party” which praises terrorism. The DTP has subsequently been sued for immediate closure.
c) Alliance with military
When one looks back on the presidential elections, where Gul had been nominated by the AKP, one can clearly see the arm wrestling between the AKP and the Turkish generals for dominance in Turkish politics. The Turkish military never wanted Gul as president because it feared that the AKP would legislate laws to curb its powers. Gul, as president, would approve them immediately. However, something very different happened. Gul got elected without any serious opposition from the Turkish military. A question, then, becomes obvious: what made the Turkish generals accept Gul's presidency? The answer lies in the private meeting between Erdogan and the chairman of the Turkish General Staff ,Yasar Buyukanit, in Dolmabahce Palace, a short time before the July 2007 elections. Apparently Erdogan and Buyukanit came to a deal about Gul's presidency, in which the AKP would touch none of Turkish generals' privileges and would support their policies to the end. The AKP also used the monopoly of media manipulation to cover the generals’ black operations against the Kurds, such as Semdinli.
Before the July, 2007 elections, as an answer to a question posed by a journalist regarding a cross-border operations, Erdogan said “Has our struggle against 5000 terrorists in Turkey come to a close so that we can now deal with the 500 in Iraq?” However, two months after the elections, the same Erdogan said that there will be a cross-border operation in Northern Iraq no matter what it takes. His “U turn” reminded me of an old saying about politics: “Politics are the world's second oldest profession which is not very different than the first.”
Subsequently, the AKP accumulated more troops, exceeding 200.000, in the Kurdish regions; at least five cities, if not more, were declared as “security zones” where the military de facto and de jure has the authority to rule over the people in these cities.
In short, the AKP and the Turkish military (TSK) agreed on classic annihilation policies, dictated by the generals, towards not only the PKK but also all the Kurdish people in general.
d)Alliance with religious groups
The Kurds are historically conservative people and strictly adhere to their religion. It is this fact that religious people, primarily the shekhs and imams, had a distinctive position among the Kurds.
Today, knowing this fact, the AKP is using religious people, sects, associations, and schools to brainwash the Kurds and to cut their emotional and political affiliation with the PKK. Fethullah Gulen’s movement, which has strong ties to the AKP, is the most dangerous group due to its secret agenda. It is everywhere in North Kurdistan.
“Recently the Turkish based Zaman newspaper reported that Fethullah Gulen had filled planes with Turkey’s top businessmen and flown them to southeastern Turkey so they could go door to door to distribute meat and other foods to the poor in key cities.... Fethullah Gulen, founder of an Islamic educational movement and spiritual leader of tens of thousands of devotees around the world, has made a social revolution in Turkey. He is now one of the most influential people in Turkey. His followers will act upon whatever he says, doing what he wills… Today southeastern Turkey is in flames; the Kurdish people one more time are being labeled as terrorists. What kind of bridge of love and isles of peace is Gulen building in southeastern Turkey? Did Gulen ever dare to stand up against the unjust military presence involved in burning houses, kidnapping Kurds, raping women, and depriving everyone of the most important right of speaking their own language? Did he ever mention in public that the Turkish government is wrong and that Erdogan’s policy is oppressive?... Gulen now see the importance of winning the hearts and minds of Kurds by his tactic of distributing meat and sending businessmen to the region. It is because Gulen saw… that Kurds are wakening up from the drug of religion, no longer believing all the lies and deceptions but rather speaking up for justice and the right treatment of Kurds. Also, Gulen saw that the Kurds are gaining power on the ground that they did not have twenty years ago. So the question is, “How did Gulen help the Kurdish people by opening schools?” Yes, it is true that Gulen indoctrinates thousands of poor but very smart Kurds to deny their existence as a Kurd by not saying, “I am Kurd,” but instead teaches them to say, “I am Turk” Assimilating them so that they leave their identity behind is like stealing their mind but leaving their body, capturing their souls but leaving them only their empty wicker cage after the bird has gone.” (Mizell)
The AKP-led Turkish media broadcasted Gulen’s “aid” “without strings” over and over again to create sympathy for his movement among the Kurds in the region.
To conclude, the AKP is playing multidimensional games with national and international powers. The two tools most intensely and effectively used in these games are the national and international media, and alliances to marginalize and pacify the Kurds in general and suffocate the ongoing legendary Kurdish movement, PKK. These games, however, will not solve the Kurdish Question but will harden it. Instead of playing such games, the AKP must sit down to the table with the legitimate Kurdish party, the DTP, to solve the Kurdish problem in a democratic manner.Kurds are neither steel-strikers, nor is the Kurdish Question a problem to be solved with simple corporate logic.
Chomsky, Noam. Media Control: The Pectacular Achievements of Propaganda. 2nd ed. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002.
Mizell, Aland. "Gülen’s new decree for the Kurdish problem in Southeastern Turkey: Steal the mind, leave the body." Kurdish Media. 2008. 2 Feb. 2008
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 Feb. 2008