The hope that the “Arab Spring” would finally bring a modern political era, democracy and a highly needed political stability to the society of the Middle East, has almost vanished. Many of the countries in this region, especially Syria and Iraq, can already be considered as failed states or they are succumbed into chaos. If we were to use the expressions of Struck, a renowned International Affairs expert, we could say that “Europe will be defended while supporting the Kurds.” It appears that such a fact is correctly understood only in Germany. However even for Germany it is hard to ‘overcome the rainbow’ and to support PKK and PYD; nevertheless such a support is evident towards the Kurds in Iraq. Dr. Martin Weiss states that “it is in the interest of Germany, that a Kurdish State in Northern Iraq would be able to react, become stable and powerful.”
Moreover Dr. Martin Weiss goes further and states: “regardless of the fact whether the Kurdish territory will continue to be part of Iraq or become an independent state, the urgent need is that the Kurds must receive the full support at every cost, since they have become the real combatants against ISIS and a decisive factor towards the stability of the region.” On the same vein, Weiss calls upon the authorities to provide military support to the Kurdish Peshmerga Armed Forces.
Based on the current conditions created in the Middle East, how can we judge the actions of Turkey and Erdoğan? The Turkish Air and Land Forces have attacked for many weeks the strategic locations of ISIS in Syria and those of the Kurdish Labor Party (PKK), who have moved out of Turkey and stationed towards Northern Iraq, where a new Kurdish State is taking shape. The Kurdish Forces located in Syria and Northern Iraq, have constantly remained the staunchest regional allies of the United States and of the Western European Countries in the war against Islamic State and the Levant.
In the dissolution process of Syria, the creation of Mini States, respectively its deep federalization in the political process appears to be the most viable and exit strategy of the current chaotic situation in the country. In such a geopolitical turmoil caused in this part of the Middle East, Turkey considers a meek possibility in the creation of a Kurdish State in Northern Syria. The resistance centered on the region of Kobani, a Kurdish city north of Syria, convincingly demonstrates the weight of the Kurdish political factor in the redrawing of the regional political map.
The escalation of armed clashes beyond the borders of Syria will continue to proliferate, if the western countries do not undertake a more robust military intervention. Moreover the Turkish strategy while fighting simultaneously the Islamic State and PKK Forces and the aspirations for the creation of a Kurdish State in Northern Syria, appears to be incompatible with the western countries’ strategy towards the region.
1.What is Erdoğan’s Open Plan?
Under the banner of a bi-frontal war against PKK and ISIS that begun at the end of July, President Erdoğan aims to maintain Turkey as the principal ally of the West in the region. But the fact that such a war was swiftly focused only against the Kurds, respectively against PKK, inside Turkey and Northern Iraq, is raising concerns that Ankara’s fighting against ISIS is being de facto used as a shield to cover the war against the Kurds.
In the last elections of Turkey, held on July 7th, 2015, after a relatively long period of landslide victories, since 2002, for the first time, the Justice and Development Party, the incumbent party, experienced a decrease in popularity and lost the appropriate majority in the Turkish National Assembly. Such a loss, according to well known Turkish Experts, is attributed to the growing popularity of the Popular Democratic Party (HDP) which is representing de facto the Kurdish community in the Turkish Parliament, and that is also considered to be the political arm of PKK.
Such a direct official involvement of Ankara in her anti-Kurdish offensive, appears to be preparing the terrain so that in extraordinary elections, already held on November 1st, would reduce the popularity of HDP in the current political environment and make possible its full return, secure full popularity towards Justice and Development Party in modern Turkey, as it is being called by the Erdoğan-Davutoğlu leadership and to head on the creation of “Neo-Ottoman Empire.”
The struggle of the Erdoğan-Davutoğlu leadership has its own pragmatic side. For Erdoğan it is clear that, if his party does not have a majority in the parliament, then, a dozen of his ministers and high ranking officials, including his son, could be brought before justice due to reliable suspicions on their affiliation with acts of corruption. Such a process was avoided by the Turkish president despite its costs. And this objective, President Erdoğan expressed during his aggressive statements against the Kurds over the last two months.
The results of elections demonstrated that the Islamic-Conservative AKP of Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had won a landslide victory from the elections of November 1st, 2015 while securing an absolute majority in the Turkish Parliament. Based on the internal rules sanctioned by laws, AKP has actually 316 representatives from a total of 550 representatives in the Turkish Parliament. The transformation of the Turkish Republic in a typical autocracy has already become a public ideal and its process cannot be stopped.
2. The role of the Kurds in the internal Turkish conflict.
The Kurdish population in Turkey, although it is treated as a minority, has its significant importance in the political scenario of Turkey. According to credible sources Kurdish population is approximately 18 percent of the total population in Turkey or about 15 million people. It is indeed the second most important population within the context of state formation and national establishment, but it has been a victim of assimilating policies and does not have the basic rights of minorities in Turkey the same way as they are in other European nations. Modern Turkey, since the Agreement of Lausanne (1923), contrary to the Greeks and Armenians who have recognized minorities, did not recognize the Kurdish population as a minority. They continued to be treated just like Albanians were treated during the Ottoman Empire; they were not able to become educated in their own native language. The eleven centuries long invasion of Kurdish territories from the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey, have left deep scars in the Kurdish ethno-psychology.
This population today is deeply divided into two parties: one part supports the PKK project for the creation of a free Kurdish State, even including the revolutionary approach, meanwhile the other side, known as peaceful and a mature political force, that supports HDP, who had abruptly passed the legislative threshold that had prohibited them earlier to enter in the parliament, the ten percent margin, that must have the Turkish political parties in order to enter in the Turkish Legislative Branch, while becoming this way as a Kurdish Political Party that managed to enter in the current Turkish Parliament. With this act, HDP at the same time is greatly serving to the Turkish democracy, while making it impossible for Erdoğan’s political party to become a dominating parliamentarian force in Turkey.
Through the identification of a good portion of the Kurdish population within the so-called ‘terrorist’ units of PKK, Erdoğan has engaged the Turkish elite air and land forces in the territories inside Turkey and in Northern Iran, while pretending to gain territory underneath the feet of HDP, and in the extraordinary elections held last fall, wanted to make it impossible for HDP to gain a growing support within its Kurdish population and beyond.
3. Kurdish State, Islamic Fascism and Geopolitics
The Kurds are among the ancient people of Western Asia. Kurdish antiquity period goes deep into 5000 years ago, as it is testified by many historical sources, including archeological explorations. The Kurdish language is part of the Indo-European group of languages, more precisely in its northwestern branch of Iranian languages (known as an Irano-Arian language). The Kurds represent the indigenous population in the regions where they live today. Their territory is known as Kurdistan.
Currently the Kurdish space is distributed into a few countries: Turkey, home of 15-21 million Kurds; Iran 6.6-10 million Kurds; Iraq, 4-6 million Kurds and in Syria, are living approximately 2-2.8 million Kurds. These are approximate numbers, since the civilian population registers do not include the ethnic origin of their inhabitants. However, the majority of scholars agree that in these regions there is living a compact population of 25-30 million Kurds.
The majority of the Kurds belongs to Sunny Islam. In Northern Iraq there is a concentration of Hanbali Sunnis, a singular group of a Sunny Sect. Meanwhile approximately 3-5 percent of the Kurdish population is living in the south of the Iraqi Kurdish territory, in the border with Iran; they belong to the Shiite Sect of Islam. A couple of hundred thousand Kurds belong to the Sufi Islam, respectively influenced by Alawaites, and are mainly living in the region of Dersim and in other large Turkish towns (since they are constantly pressured to leave the countryside).
4. A tragic history
The fall of Ottoman Empire and the Balkan Wars (1910-1914) which led to the First World War, although progressive Kurdish forces were fighting hard, they were unable to bring the Kurdish State into reality. What had been done by the Ottoman Empire in the XVI Century with Diplomacy and iron fist, incorporating the strongest Kurdish dynasties inside the ottoman territories, the same approach was followed by the founding father of Modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. What was accomplished by the Kurdish political forces through the well known peaceful Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, which established the most serious steps towards accomplishing their everlasting dream of nation formation, was brought to ruin forever by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
In the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) Kurdistan would not be mentioned anywhere. The founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, on this occasion and later on would fiercely refuse the agreement of 1920 and would embrace the most anti-Kurdish policies. Such an attitude was transmitted in the subsequent Turkish governments, all the way to the current Turkish President Erdoğan, when he was previously elected as Turkish Prime Minister.
Mr. Erdoğan while returning to the Neo-Ottoman attitude was projecting a consolidation of internal peace, that would make possible the economic boom inside Ataturk’s Turkey and the multifaceted expansion in what used to be the Ottoman Empire sphere of influence. Such measures were taken after a compromise reached with the main Kurdish political party PKK, established on November 27, 1978, and its leader was Abdullah Öcalan, who would become a true leader while he was kept in jail. The uprising organized by PKK for almost three decades with the exception of brief pauses, took the lives of 40 thousand people, but it could finally generate all cherished results.
The ideological position and Turkey’s irreplaceable role in the eastern gates of NATO, would not bring anymore advantages other than giving a cultural autonomy, that was announced by Erdoğan as he was making cosmetic constitutional changes over the status of his fellow countrymen and making a change from “Turk Citizen” to “Turkish Citizen,” but it also facilitated the identity recognition of the Kurdish Population. The tragic history of the Kurdish people has made them become the largest ethnic group without their own state.
The transcendence of events in northern Iraq, especially the emergence of Kurdish forces into an ally of NATO and European Union, shows that such an era is coming to an end. Arabian Spring that degenerated in Syria and Iraq, consisted of a complete dismantling of progressive democratic forces and the empowerment of terrorist groups and Islamic Fascism groups in this region, is creating a favorable environment that enables the birth of the Kurdish State. Its preconditions appear to be highly favorable towards the formation of Kurdish State in this area.
The Kurdish part in the northern Iraq, even under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship had enjoyed certain autonomy, meanwhile after 1990 such autonomy had gained a qualitative political growth, while becoming into a state within a state for twenty two years. At the same time the administration of revenue generated by the oil exports has brought a significant economic development almost independent from Baghdad, while exerting a political pressure towards the centralist governments of Iraq all the way until today.
5. Western Real-politic and its foster home attitude
The terrorist organization of “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” is the latest product of Islamic fascism. Established relatively later (in April 2013), it currently appears as a serious force that has shaken the foundations of Iraq and Syria, while declaring the Islamic State at a worldwide level.
It is considered to be part of Al-Qaeda, respectively established by Al-Qaeda, but military experts estimate that it has become a larger organization than Al – Qaeda itself. It declared its own Arab Khalifat, while re-drawing and making the international borders between Syria and Iraq senseless, taking under control important oil resources, and it is even prepared to march toward northern Iraq, at the center of the Kurdish province, since it is a rich area with petroleum as a result there is a high risk for the Islamic State to control large quantities of oil that could shake the regional geopolitics and become a real threat to energy markets.
The Balkan region is perceived to be the next territory under the ideological influence of ISIS, if we take into consideration the large number of volunteers that have joined the ranks of this Islamic Fascism organization, it is not a coincidence. Already it is well know how UNMIK created a favorable terrain for ISIS in Kosovo, as well as the contribution of Kosovo’s political parties towards the creation of this dramatic situation. The dark image of Kosovo today is the product of a naiveté in politics that was exerted by the two local political parties: the Democratic League of Kosovo and Democratic Party of Kosovo during the post war government.
As much as these forces move away from the principles of state formation, the more is created a space for Islamic fascism in Kosovo. The intermingling of Islam as a religion with conservative politics, while using Erdoğan’s Turkey as a model, Islamic Fascism is created in Kosovo. The magnitude of this model was reflected during the seven years of Hashim Thaçi’s regime, who transformed the democratic government (from being a product of western liberal democracies), into an impossible asset for Kosovo! These two evils, such as Islamic Fascism and semi-feudal political authoritarianism, can be fought only by returning the ideals of Renaissance – Albanianism.
Let’s take a look at the intervention of western countries with the exception of avoiding the possibilities of promoting this mindset away from the Arabian soil, they are ignoring the humanitarian catastrophe that is looming over a certain group of a population that was not part of the Sunny Sect, it has a real-politic character: the Kurdish zones in Northern Iraq in itself are an energetic power. Even without the region of Kirkuk, since it has kept under its control over 45 million barrels of oil, in the East Kurdistan is considered to be a word wide energy power.
Geopolitics is understood at its core the same way as it was in its early days – a product of power competition in the race to expand influence in the areas of rivalry which is expressed in international politics, is helping shape the Kurdish State. It is attracting the west in this part of the world while applying its ‘foster home’ role during the process of the Kurdish state formation. The Kurdish issues are taking a direction towards solution, almost similar to the Kosovo situation in the XX century.
However, the core of Kurdistan is not born in Turkey, were the largest number of Kurds are currently living, but in Iraq at an area where the arrows of Islamic State are clashing with the swords of Kurdish Forces that are supported by the Western countries, very similar to the case of Kosovo, while turning the Kurdish State into a buffer zone between Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
The emergence of fascist Islam and fully incorporated into the ISIS Doctrine, as it was affecting the interests of many parties in the region. The renaissance of nationalism and chauvinism, even in the soil of liberal Europe, has created strong alibis on the incorporation of religion in politics, while warning through the Islamic State a pan Arab nationalism that is in the rise. Such a bloody situation of ISIS transformed the region into a “time bomb” while making this region become vulnerable of a myriad of geopolitical interests; as a result Geopolitics is turning it to become part of a diplomatic framework of international politics.
In this situation, the strategy over the territories of interest, while looking at first it appears to be rudimentary, this is why it is accompanied with the ideas of creating a state of law, that takes into account the right of people for self determination, the inalienability of borders, defense of human rights and guarding the basic democratic principles, which are placed against the terms of classic geopolitics.
6. Turkish Democracy as a spectacular show
The return of Turkey in the beginning of 1990s, as many dozens of Turkish police officers were returning from the Kurdish areas in body bags, as they were fighting against PKK forces, that are compared to the current clashes against ISIS, it is putting political stability and peace into a greater danger, as two factors that are sensitive in order to guarantee the economic development of Turkey during the last two decades, making Ankara into a regional power house.
While turning democracy into a spectacular show; the Turkish Head of State Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is fighting for the return of a true Modern Turkey that was in the era before Ataturk, without necessarily being baptized as a modern Sultan. the calculations of Erdoğan to bring the leftist political party HDP again under the 10 percent threshold, as he was noting that his Kurdish electorate was massively moving towards the Kurdish HDP in late June elections.
The fact that Erdoğan had lost reputation within the Kurdish voters; makes the Turkish president to become so aggressive against PKK. This is the reason why the Young Kurdish and Turkish Socialists of HDP, were organized to collect funds for the rebuilding of Kobani in Syria. It must be noted that Kobani became the symbol of resistance for Kurdish Forces, during the Syrian Civil War, and had emerged as an emotional renaissance for the abandoned Kurdish Nation.
The disturbing terrorist act in the city of Suruc, nearby the Syrian border, on June 20th, not without a reason, from a good portion of the media and politicians, inside and outside of Turkey, has been characterized as a work of Turkish state terror, regardless of the statement issued by Prime Minister Davutoğlu estimating it as a suicide bomber, condemning ISIS as a responsible party.
Regardless of this kind of statements and of the anti Kurdish War undertaken by the Turkish Government, civilian society and its progressive political forces, appear to be more matured than the leader of modern Turkey. This is the reason why it appears that the authoritarian power of Erdoğan will experience a significant blow, in the upcoming elections, even more so than the one observed in the last elections.
In this geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East, Erdoğan is afraid from the other political reality. HDP is gaining ever more reputation as a political movement that, regardless of its Kurdish roots, is becoming a gravitational force within the side spectrum of the Turkish left.
“Those who do not feel as genuine Turks will have only one right: the right to become servants or slaves.” These were the words of Former Minister of Justice in 1930, in full accordance with the fascist mindset of that time. But, that epoch until July 15, at the night when the Coup D’état failed, it was considered as falling apart.
The failed military coup during the historic night of July 15, 2016, will overthrow completely the political system of Turkey. The country was at the brink of a civil war. During the night there were taking place armed clashes among the representatives of Armed Forces and Turkish Police. In a single night Turkey became a war zone. The bombs were falling in the buildings of the Parliament, fighter jets were scrambled in the skies of Ankara. Turkey was already reaching an unavoidable chaos. The military coup is testimony that Islam as a religion in Turkey has become a political ideology! The domination of this ideology is the beginning of the end of Turkish Republic.
The attitude in favor of military coup, even if it is the last resort for its liberation from dictatorship, on one side, but also the support of ‘Sultan’ Erdoğan in the name of quasi values, (in respect of an apparent democracy, respectively the majority) while based in political prejudice with a political and Islamic foundation, they create an ironic confusion not only in the Turkish society, but also within the Islamic territories.
Such a military coup demonstrated that near east, Mediterranean region remains a tectonic terrain and as a result an ideal laboratory for the establishment of global policies. If Turkey would not be a NATO member, after July 15, would inevitably be prone to the Syrian scenario or reach a similar scenario to that of Egypt. Such a tragic end is only trying to earn time.
Turkish Federalism as an idea would be considered as a real scenario in order to exit from this crisis set forth by Erdoğan. This is the only scenario that keeps Turkey inside the NATO Alliance, but also is distant from clashing with Putin’s Russia. As a political act it will take place after the federalization process of Syria.
With the Sultan Erdoğan already mystified as a hero, this is the logic end of present day Turkey and at its beginning it reminded us the idea of a renowned diplomat and constitutionalist Ismail Qemali that was presented to the Empire of Erdoğan in early XX Century – to Abdyl Hamid. That after this process it would restart the real negotiations for its integration into the European Union.
For many years Turkey has become a target of terrorist attacks, which are threatening to engulf the nation into a civilian war. During the month of august the supreme military Court of Turkey issued an ordinance that will declare Gulen’s Movement in the Armed Forces as illegal. The flow of political events in the future is very hard to predict. This would become a terrorizing scenario. If the military coup is used for political maneuvers, as it appeared on days after it happened, the end will be even bloodier. This is the real reason why international community has reacted with a great level of precaution on the case of the Coup, while calling upon the democratic principles and respect for the state of law.
After these fears, can we really talk about the democratic standards in Turkey?!
In fact fragile democracy in Turkey has fallen apart since the end of 2013. At that time Erdoğan had arrested a dozen of attorneys, judges and police officers, since they were tied to the public statements that denounced the acts of corruption where Erdoğan’s son was also involved in addition to his three cabinet ministers. Meanwhile Turkish style democracy was definitely engulfed and was making its last movements especially during the presidential elections of August 2014, when Erdoğan was ‘crowned’ as a sort of Modern Sultan.
At that time he had warned that national constitution and laws will not be at the center of his attention! Unfortunately in the name of the Republic, he was tolerated by the west to be elected as President. Genuine Democrats in Turkey, at that period, that group of citizens who refused the civilian dictatorship led by Erdoğan but also military dictatorship, they have lost their hopes that they could earn the solidarity of the west that has been sought after for years.
7. Turkey and Pandora’s Box labeled as: minorities
In its efforts to become closer to EU, Turkey has undertaken a series of measures in the interest of minorities and brings Ankara close to the western civilization. The separation of frequencies and of RTUK on August 18, 2014 for three TV Channels in South East Turkey, that enables the transmission of programs in Kurdish language, as well as in the national TV Channel TRT3, where there are aired programs in Arabic, Kurdish and any other language, was a well thought action and that could have brought Ankara closer to Europe.
But in reality there is a political pressure taking place so that everything is under control. This is experienced above the Kurdish shoulders but also upon other minority groups that have come from Albania and are even more discriminated.
Based on some sources Albanian minority in Turkey, or better said, Turkish citizens that are originating from Albania, must be more than five million! It would be under the concept of political reciprocity that Turkish citizens originally from Albania would enjoy the same rights as the Turkish minority in Kosovo.
Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, during his visit to Skopje noted that Turkey has been heavily involved in the Turkish cultural renaissance in some countries in the Balkans, while putting an emphasis on Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina: “We will send a copy of Turkish Dictionary to every family in Skopje. We are working throughout the Balkans; and especially in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania in order to have a renaissance of our culture.”
Based on the geopolitical platform of Davutoğlu’s (the strategic depth) modern Turkey, according to the neo-ottoman trend it has the historical right to return not only the cultural values on the countries that were mentioned; it is understood that such a statement by Davutoğlu for the return of Turks in the Balkans, would be a pre-condition element for the equal treatment of Albanian minorities in Turkey.
They also need not only to have dictionaries in their language and textbooks in their homes, but also the right to be educated in their native tongue from the elementary school all the way to the university level, just like it is being implemented for the benefit of Turkish minorities in Kosovo today, even though their names have been ‘slaughtered’ and are missing last syllables, turning them into a joke.
Turkish cultural invasion in the Balkans, as an extension of the current Turkish government, as well as the current involvement of Turkish Forces against the ISIS Campaign and Kurdish situation in Northern Iraq and the establishment of “Erdoğan’s sultanate” meaning the anti democratic course of Erdoğan after the failed coup d’état, promoted in the name of national interests, will accelerate the opening of Pandora’s box which in the Turkish case will be identified within the political Kurdish minority, without explicitly excluding other minorities.
Turkey already is reaching a point of great reforms. It will continue to be a progressive economy as a modern country in which Islam will continue to have a dominant role. Even though other matters such as the Kurdish issue, must be dealt with a certain maturity and sensitivity. Obviously no-one would request to Turkey to hold a similar referendum to the one in Scotland and Great Britain, but a reform of the liberty of expression through the right for political and cultural autonomy for the Kurds, as it is prescribed by HDP, this would be the right course of action inside Turkey and would bring sustainable solutions.
Such a step would contribute to the internal peace and provide a sustainable geopolitical configuration in the region, without affecting the interests of Turkey. In this regard, HDP while serving to the idea for a political autonomy inside the Turkish system is emerging as a principal actor that is attracting the geopolitical attention towards the ‘forgotten nation’ of the Kurds.
The elections of November 1st, 2015 and the failed coup d’état of July 15th, 2016, are a testimony that democracy in Turkey is greatly damaged and with it the future of Turkey is uncertain. Such developments will also bring unexpected changes in the international arena, which could easily resurface in the shape of anti-western adventures.
The Federalism of Turkey may be a possible scenario that could benefit Ankara and ensure stability inside the country. This is indeed the only scenario that may keep Turkey inside the security structures of NATO, and away from its confrontations with Russia. As a political act, Turkish Federalization will take shape after the Federalization of Syria.
The ideas, arguments and scholarly opinions in this essay are solely those of the author.
*Dr. Sc. Sadri RAMABAJA, is a Professor of International Affairs at ILIRIA University, Prishtina, Kosovo ([email protected])
Sources and References:
 Martin Weiss, Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft:
 http://www.ipg-journal.de/rubriken/aussen-und-sicherheitspolitik/artikel/durchs-milde- kurdistan-1106/
 Cem Sey, http://www.ipg-journal.de/kurzinterview/artikel/ausgeweidete-tuerkische-demokratie-1533/
TRANSLATED FROM ALBANIAN LANGUAGE BY: PETER M. TASE