Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Turkey, Iraq, and Kurdistan

If the powers of the Middle East could make money off the region's ability to produce crises, they wouldn't need oil revenue. The people running countries there are at least as thin-skinned and reality-averse as people everywhere.

Take Turkey and Kurdistan, for example.

Odds are that Turkey's parliament will give the okay tomorrow, to invade northern Iraq. "Invade" isn't the word used in the news. It's more like 'conduct "operations"' and "send troops." And, Turkey has some reason for taking action like that. A terrorist group, PKK, that says it's for Kurdish independence, has been going into Turkey and killing people.

People in Turkey are understandably upset.

And, people in the part of northern Iraq that's called Kurdistan aren't too happy about the possibility of Turkish troops in their territory, breaking things and killing people.

"The passage of the motion in Parliament does not mean that an operation will be carried out at once," is what Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "Turkey would act with common sense and determination when necessary and when the time is ripe."

A government acting with common sense would be nice.

I'd say there's a good chance that Turkey won't invade Iraq right now. Turkey needs oil revenue as much as other countries need oil, and starting a war in northern Iraq would put a serious crimp in their business.

As for a massive anti-PKK raid turning into a war of conquest, it's hard to believe that the current rulers of Turkey seriously plan to re-conquer the Ottoman province of Kurdistan. But stranger, and more self-destructive, things have happened.

What still puzzles me is why Turkey's current leadership is so concerned in denying what the Ottoman Empire did to another ethnic minority: the Armenians. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution recently, recognizing the death of about 1,500,000 Armenians around WWI and following: and the Turkish government is so peeved about it that they might stop letting U.S. forces get supplies to Iraq through Turkey.

Turkey isn't alone in wanting history re-written, of course. For example, Japan's government denies that the Japanese drafted Korean women as prostitutes during WWII. Japan's denial is more understandable than Turkey's defense of the Ottoman Empire. There's a fairly direct connection between Japan's government during WWII, and the current leadership. (And, Japan's efforts are slightly less likely to succeed, at least for a while: Some of the "sex slaves," as the press likes to call the women drafted into a sort of state-run sex industry, are still alive: like Wu Hsiu-mei.

The Armenian connection is important because the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that would officially recognize the Armenian genocide. That resolution may not last, though. Members of the majority party in the house had a flash of insight, and are reconsidering their position on the Armenian resolution.

  • The real:
    "Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)" They want in made clear that they're not the PKK. "The Kurdistan Region is Iraq’s safest and most secure. But we may soon pay a heavy price for the actions of the PKK in Turkey, and for a House Foreign Affairs Committee vote about Armenia in the U.S. – neither of which have anything to do with the Kurds of Iraq or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG.)" is how today's lead article put it.
  • The ideal:
    "aka Kurdistan / a place for collective memory and cultural exchange" - a pretty good online resource, which also seems to be selling a book. The site includes a "map and timeline to find photographs and stories from Kurds and Westerners about Kurdistan's history and culture. The map was a rather hopeful one, dating from 1945, shown at the San Francisco Conference by the Kurdish League Delegation.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.