The rivalry between Turkey and Iran over dominating the Middle East is not something new. It is in fact the legacy of the historical conflict between two empires, the Persians and Turks who dominated Middle East for several times and under different names and ideologies in the history. However, these two ethnicities have developed their empires and expanded their interest at the cost of violating human rights of other ethnic minority groups such as Kurds, Baloches, Arabs, Assyrian, Armenians, Alawis, Yezidis and Greeks.
Today, I see that Turkish and Iranian government, the off springs and inheritors of the ottomans and Safavid empires are carrying out the same mission of their forefathers. They are trying to use Kurdish population again and again as a tool to undermine the power and influence of one another and expand their interests in the Middle East.
Just like the past centuries, these two undemocratic regimes are using all possible means, starts from their superior military and economic capabilities, Islamic religion, to the use of force, threat, coercion, abuse, intimidate, illegal arrests, aggression and the exploitation of powerless minority ethnic groups such as Kurds, to challenge one another politically, economically and militarily in the middle east.
Looking at their policies in the Middle East, you can easily notice that both fascist regimes, Turkey and Iran are fighting a cold war with one another. Their first major battle is being fought in Iraq and Syria, where their traditional rivalry and interests conflicts can be seen in full force. However, the problem here is, both Turkey and Iran are trying to get Kurds in their conflicts of interests. They are dragging Kurds into their conflicts by using carrot and sticks approach with Kurdish minorities of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey and have gotten them cooperate and take sides in their conflicts.
There are times when they use deceptive promises of rewarding Kurds protection, economic incentives, independence, autonomy and freedom if they cooperate. However, when Kurds refuse to cooperate with either sides, they take punitive measures against Kurds such as economic sanctions, military aggression, arbitrary arrests, torture and even killing.
Obviously there are many reasons for the rivalry and cold war between Turks and Persians in the Middle East. First, Iran considers Turkey as an ally of Israel and USA,because Turkey has already recognized Israel as a state and it has all kind of relations with Israel. Therefore, Iran perceives Turkey as a threat to its security and economic interests in the middle east, while Turkey thinks of Iran as a state that can be both good and bad for Turkey because when the interests of Turkey come to conflict with USA, Israel or EU countries, Turkey changes its course right away and stretches its hands towards the countries like Iran, who is at odd with Israel, US and EU countries.
Turkey finds Iran as an effective chip for bargaining some deals with Israel and Saudi Arabia.Turkey offers deals to work with both Israel and Saudis and help them to challenge the political power and influence of Iran in the middle east, and possibly get Sunni, Kurds and Turkmens to unify their voice in the Iraqi, Syrian future parliament and vote for recognizing the state of Israel. But in return, Turkey expectsUS, EU, Saudis and Israelis to live up to its own demands and expectations as well.
Furthermore, Turkey wants US, EU to first drop their so called political, military and economic supports for Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, and second, to press Greek Cypriots hard enough to share their wealth of natural resources with Turkish Cypriot population, and third to let Turkey have access to the benefits of the world’s biggest market of Europe and fourth to grant Turkish citizens free visa to travel to Europe. Turkey promises US and EU o distance itself from Russia and Iran as well if they agree to the political and economical demands of Turkey within Europe and Middle East.
To achieve success in her plan, Turkey need the support of Kurds and other Sunni population and Turkmens to make her plans turn into reality. Turkey is currently putting pressure on Iraqi Kurds to drop their support of Shi’ite government in Baghdad and rather make a united political front with Turkmens and Sunni blocs to shift the balance of political power in Baghdad in favor of Sunnis. However, Kurds want to remain neutral in these conflict. But Turkey is dragging Kurds to support its plan. It is using the approach of punishment and rewards with Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Syria in order to get them to help Turkey and support its political, economical and security deal with Israel and Saudi Arabia in the middle east.
For example, Turkey have recently arrested several Kurds politicians of HDP party and sent them to jail. It has also issued an arrest warrant for Syrian Kurdish leader of YPG party Salih Moslem.More of Turkish military forces have been deployed to southeastern districts near the Iraqi border, on top of other military bases that already exist in north of Iraq since 1997.
Moreover, in the recent visit of KRG delegation to Turkey, Turkish prime minister told Kurdistan regional government (KRG) Prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, that Turkey would help Kurds financially in the future, while it continues to bombs the border areas of Iraqi Kurdistan region under the excuse of fighting PKK ,but in reality harassing Iraqi Kurdish population who live along the border between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.The bombardment is resulting in making hundreds of Kurdish villagers and farmers to abandon their homes and farms and flee towards town and cities in north of Iraq. It is clear that Turkey is using the approach of reward and punishment in order to get Kurds to drop their ambitions and efforts in getting independence, autonomy or their supports for Shea blocs. Turkey instead, wants Kurds to listen and cooperate with Turkey to achieve its strategic plans in the middle east.
I believe the hidden agenda of Turkey is, it wants to not only bring Kurds of Turkey, Syria and Iraq under its control, but to also use them to achieve its goal in the middle east. Turks in general do not want to see any kind of Kurdish autonomous area or independent Kurdistan. They want Kurds to be subservient to them. They want to use Kurds to fight for their interests against their rival countries in Middle East. They tried everything to stop US and Iraqi government, to not allow Kurds having autonomy in north of Iraq, and they are doing it also now to stop the Kurds getting autonomous area in the Syrian.
Turkey also tries to exploit the issue of Iran’s hegemony in the Middle East as an opportunity to make a deal with US, Israel and EU and get concessions out of them. What this means in my opinion is Turkey wants to become powerful independent country in the world free from the influence and orders of outsiders. It also means that Turkey wants to feed its Turkish population at the expenses of Kurds and Iranian. However, Iran is challenging Turkey in this regard. Iran is playing the same game with Turkey.
Iran too, wants Kurds to work with all Shi’ite forces in Iraq, Syria and Iran, in order to deny Turkey the chance of challenging the power of Shea blocs in the Middle East or gain any concessions from Israel and Saudi Arabia at the expenses of hurting the interests of Iran in the Middle East. In fact, Iran is already dealing with the security threats of Saudi Arabia, Israel and ISIS, so it wants to make as many allies as it can in the Middle East to strengthen itself against these threats and make sure the Islamic regime survives.
Iran reportedly has promised the Kurds of Syrian and Iran protection, financial aid and autonomy as long as they do not fight Assad regime or rebel against the Islamic regime in Tehran and its allies in Lebanon, and Iraq. Iran reportedly has promised the Kurds of Syrian and Iran protection, financial aid and autonomy as long as they do not fight Assad regime or rebel against the Islamic regime in Tehran and its allies in Lebanon, and Iraq. Iran has also demanded Kurds to remain an ally in the fight against ISIS. It promised Iraqi and Syrian Kurds economic help and political support if Kurds do not go against their interests in Middle East. However, it warned Kurds to refrain from showing any support or establishing any kind of relation with Israel, or else they (Kurds) will face harsh punishment by Iran.
Iran wants to do business with Iraqi Kurds but under the same condition if Kurds take their side in conflict with Turkey. In fact, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have reportedly agreed on a plan to build two pipeline of crude oil from Kirkuk to Iran so that the KRG would become less dependent on Turkey.However,both Turkey and Israel are not happy about such a deal because first, Israel is a buyer of the KRG oil that is sent through Turkey to Ceyhan port, and secondly Turkey makes revenues out of the pipeline that goes through its soil, and third Israel does not want Iran to benefit from the oil of KRG, and fourth Turkey knows that the more dependent Kurds are to Turkey economically, the more control Turkey can have over them in all possible ways.
When Kurds remain neutral in their interest conflicts or when they do business with the opponents of Iran such as Turkey and Israel, Iran rebel against the interests of Kurds and it use their superior military and economic strength and influence in Iraq, Syria and harass Kurds by bombing the Kurdish border areas with Iran, or order Assad forces to bomb the Kurdish civil areas in Syria or hold the annual budget of Kurds back, to typically make Kurds move with their line of dictation.
These two fascist regimes know very well that Kurds do not have strong enough economic and military capabilities to resist their political and economic pressure, nether can defend themselves against any military aggressions of Turkey or Iran, so they take advantage of the weak points of Kurds and blackmail them until they force them to give in to their demands and work for them. They see Kurds as an inferior race that is good for nothing except for serving the interests of Persians and Turks, as if their multi millions population of Persian and Turks, and their superior economic and military power is not enough to carry out their missions on their own, without victimizing Kurds in between their interest conflicts and struggles in the middle east.
There is no doubt that Kurds do not want at all to be blackmailed or bullied to work for one side against the other. Iraqi Kurds have tried every possible mean to remain neutral in the rivalry and cold war between, Shea and Sunni in the Middle East. Kurds have already been paying a high price, losing thousands of lives in the fight against ISIS and its population have been suffering from economic crisis. They certainly do not need to be dragged into another conflict in the middle east.
The policies of Kurds seem to be clear and fair towards its neighbors. You can tell from their friendly attitude and reasonable actions that they take when dealing with its neighbors. I strongly believe that Kurds do not want to take sides or favor Shea over the Sunni or vice versa. They rather want to have good relations with both Turkey and Iran without discrimination.
Kurds of Turkey, and Syria also want to remain neutral in the conflict and clashes between Assad’s army and the Free Syrian Army. In fact all Kurdish parties, from Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria have the same opinion to not take one side or the other in the cold war between Shea and Sunni or between Iran and Turkey. Kurds are rather focused on having a peaceful coexistence with Arabs, Turks and Persians equally.
I do not find it reasonable at all if Kurds take side of either these two regimes Turkey or Iran, especially when you know that these two regimes are not only undemocratic, but also have a high records and history of violating human right of Kurds and all other minority ethnic groups.
If Europe and the US really stand for democracy, human rights rather than personal interests, they should not let Turkey or Iran sacrifice Kurds or any other ethnic minority for their own illegitimate political and economical interests in the Middle East. And if they truly believe in justice, they should put harsh economic sanctions and a tourism boycott on both Iran and Turkey immediately, terminate EU membership negotiations and freeze Turkey out of NATO until it reverts to democracy and respect the democratic rights of all minorities who live within Turkey and Iran.
Abdul-Qahar Mustafa is a graduate student from Saint Louis high school in Canada. He is advocate of justice, democracy and human rights. He currently lives in Sarsang/Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan.
[The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BasNews].