In both Russia, the wider post-Soviet space, Europe and the English speaking world, Kurdish political and militant groups of the Middle East have a reputation that is both inaccurate and unrealistic. While the Middle East has earned a reputation in many countries outside of the region as an overly fraught and violent area, Kurdish militants have been unwisely portrayed by many international journalists as uniquely heroic, noble, moderate and morally correct.
This has never been even close to an accurate reflection of reality. Like many extremist non-state groups, Kurdish political parties have resorted, and continue to resort to terrorism, deception, allying with foreign aggressors and calculated political manipulation to achieve goals which themselves necessitate a violent outcome. One cannot argue for the creation of ethno-nationalist states within legitimate countries and do so without the fear of violence.
The internationally recognised terror group PKK have killed more people in Turkey during their period of operations than the combined number of Americans killed in every terrorist attacks on US soil. This statistic of course, includes 9/11. Likewise the PKK’s sister group YPG continue to wage a campaign of ethnic cleansing against indigenous Arabs and other minorities including Assyrians and Armenians in the areas of northern Syria where they have set up an illegal occupation regime they refer to as “Rojava”.
In Iran, a PKK off-shoot called PJAK has killed hundreds of Iranians in a conflict which has led Ankara and Tehran to cooperate in the Turkish construction of a border wall to prevent the PKK and PJAK from supplying one another with deadly weapons. Finally, after a long history of treachery against several Iraqi governments, both Ba’athist and pro-Iranian governments, a would-be Kurdish insurgency from extremists in Iraq was put down in September of 2017 thanks to the efforts of the Iraqi armed forces who received support from both Iran and Turkey in creating a no-fly zone over northern Iraq. One of the proximate causes of this operation was not merely an illegal declaration of independence by Kurdish groups in northern Iraq, but due to the fact that the Kurdish Peshmerga militia was illegally occupying Iraq’s Kirkuk oil fields in violation of the autonomy agreement Baghdad had signed with Kurdish leaders.
It is no coincidence that in Syria, the YPG are currently occupying the country’s most oil rich regions with the aid of the United States, nor should it be surprising that while putatively anti-PKK Kurdish groups in Iraq were once economically supplied by Turkey and while Ankara built them their own international airport, they now burn Turkish flags in the street, thus demonstrating that violent ethno-nationalism trumps party political differences during times of cross-border crisis.
Today, tensions between Ankara and Damascus that had been winding down were amplified due to reports from the famously dishonest Kurdish media that the Syrian government had reached an agreement with the YPG to send troops to Afrin and fight Turkey. Not only would this make no strategic sense as the YPG is a pro-US/pro-“Israel” group intent on stealing legitimate Syrian territory, but it would also make no practical sense as Turkey, Russia and Iran are cooperating as members of the Astana group to try and bring peace to Syria.
Today, Turkey’s Presidential spokesman said that Kurdish authored rumours of a Syria/YPG alliance were “black propaganda” and indeed this is exactly what they are. Because of both western and Russian media’s willingness to believe Kurdish political and military spokesmen, chaos could have ensued in spite of the fact that all responsible journalistic outlets should consider Kurdish sources extremely unreliable. Throughout the conflict Kurdish media sources have stated that the US has agreed to create a Kurdish statelet on Syria soil, even though these statements were later denied – before being promoted again. Likewise, Kurdish media outlets have lied about commitments the US military has made to them, thus making it harder for Russia to reach an understanding about what the US really wants from Syria. In recent weeks Kurdish media outlets have been spreading dozens of rumours of a possible alliance with Syria, so much so that many Syrian outlets whose view of Turkey is naturally negative, have become emotionally entranced by the fake news coming from the mouths of Kurdish propagandists.
How could a group that engages in a media war based on lies designed for the purpose of creating a wider conflict in Syria and Turkey, all while refusing to disarm, or show loyalty to any one state and refusing to renounce ethnic cleansing and ethno-nationalism – how can such an entity be portrayed as anything but negative?
For too long, Kurdish terrorists have used their position to manipulate emotions of people on all sides of the wider geopolitical divide. One needn’t love nor hate the Turkish government to realise that Kurdish political groups and their associated militant terrorist organisations are not the sainted ‘above the fray’ groups that many in Washington, Moscow, Athens, Berlin and Brussels image them to be.
With Turkey set to encircle the YPG enclave in Afrin so as to prevent any wider conflict from taking place in the region, it is high time that many journalists revise their views of Kurdish groups. There is nothing noble about trying to turn a local conflict into a wider global conflict. In fact, such tactics are despicable.
Those with negative views of Turkey for historic reasons, or due to current disputes are not going to change their minds about Turkey and this is not the intention of this piece. Such people though, owe it to themselves to renounce Kurdish extremist groups whose methods are vicious, violent and filled with insincerity. One needn’t excuse such behaviour just because of a negative view of Turkey. Such an attitude is both childish, naive and itself deeply insincere.