06/08/2022, 12.07
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Kurdish activist: 'My people sacrificed on the altar of international interests'

by Chiara Zappa

Yilmaz Örkan, of the Kurdistan National Congress in exile, believes Erdoğan intends to exploit the tensions over Nato enlargement to deal a blow to the rebel people. But not only regional balances are at stake.  Today's meeting in Ankara between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov will not only discuss the issue of Odessa wheat. 



Milan (AsiaNews) - "The Kurds will be the price to pay for the enlargement of the Atlantic alliance in Europe". Yilmaz Örkan, a member of the National Congress of Kurdistan in the exile, is pessimistic: "Erdoğan has realised the current weakness of the West, which in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine wants to seize the opportunity to expand NATO's influence in the Old Continent, and is determined to take advantage of it. That is why, faced with the request for membership by Sweden and Finland, it has set its conditions, which call into question its number one obsession, the Kurds. And in the meantime, while all the energies of the US, Europe and Russia are focused on the conflict in Ukraine, it intensifies its campaign of aggression against Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq'.

Örkan, who is also director of Uiki, the Kurdistan Information Office in Italy, believes the Turkish president is on 'an all-out offensive'. It goes from Europe, where there are numerous communities of the "people without a homeland", to those areas of the Middle East where, following the Syrian war and the mobilisation against the advance of the Islamic State, the Kurdish forces in recent years had managed to carve out self-administered areas. And where today - while the world looks elsewhere - Ankara's attacks are becoming more violent, even against the civilian population: Kurdish but purely Arab and Assyrian, of Christian religion. Just a few days ago, the Turkish army targeted the Assyrian village of Tel Tamr, in the Syrian governorate of Hassaké, destroying a church (as well as houses and infrastructure).

"In Europe, Erdoğan is exploiting the situation to criminalise our diaspora,' the activist denounces. The accusations against the Nordic countries of supporting terrorists are completely unfounded! In Finland there is only a very small association made up mainly of Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish exiles, while Sweden has already welcomed democratic dissidents from all over the world in the past decades: Arabs, Vietnamese, many Chileans... We have some associations, always of course within the constitutional principles of the country. On the other hand, guarantees like being able to speak the language of your own people, which for Ankara are a problem, for Sweden are a right'.

This dynamic is also common to other countries, including Italy: 'A few days ago we organised a demonstration  in Rome against the Turkish invasion in Rojava, and punctually the Ankara government summoned the Italian ambassador complaining about a "procession of Pkk terrorists"... Similar incidents have happened to diplomats from Greece, France... It is a precise pressure strategy'.

By opposing Helsinki and Stockholm (which he also asks to lift the embargo on the supply of arms to Turkey), the 'sultan', according to Yilmaz Örkan, is also sending a message of closeness to Putin: 'While the West has implemented severe sanctions against Moscow, Turkey on the commercial front has strengthened its relations with the Russian giant'. The meeting scheduled today in Ankara between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian counterpart Sergej Lavrov, in which wheat and regional issues will be discussed, should also be read in this light. This too is a sign that the Kremlin is a partner it cannot ignore for many of its interests, including the disturbing expansionist aims in the south, which in the case of Syria would also be functional to the 'voluntary' repatriation of masses of refugees welcomed on Turkish soil in recent years.

"Erdoğan has stated several times that he intends to secure a 30-km buffer zone on Syrian territory, which would mean annexing cities like Mambij, Tal Rifat, Kobane, and at least 40 km beyond the Iraqi border, thus including centres like Duhok and Zakho". An aggressive expansionism (Ankara has 38 military bases in Iraq) that does not even please the local pro-Iranian militias: precisely the recent rapprochement between the Iraqi Pkk and armed groups close to Tehran is among the reasons for Ankara's renewed fury in the area.

While it is true that the international coalition continues to support the Kurds in northern Syria in an anti-Daesh function, Örkan is aware that "NATO certainly does not intend to go to war with a member country like Turkey to defend our people". But - he warns - the stakes are much higher: "The risk is that in 2023, the Turkish president will launch into an all-out war effort with the mirage of recovering, a century later, the territories he believes were unjustly taken from Turkey by the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, including Erbil and Sulaymaniyah".

Again, the autocrat of the day does not just threaten a people, but the international balance.

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