While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to play the role of mediator in the Ukraine war and portray himself as a peacemaker, he has now launched a renewed, large-scale military offensive against South Kurdistan (northern Iraq), another unprovoked campaign by the Turkish Armed Forces to invade, depopulate, and occupy more of the area. Once again, the true face of Erdogan, that of an aggressor and occupier, can be seen in Kurdistan. A policy of denial and war against the Kurdish people is a central principle of the Turkish state and Erdogan’s leadership, and Erdogan’s transparent efforts to act as a mediator on the internal stage serve only to distract from the destructive role that Erdogan continues to play in Turkey, Kurdistan, and throughout the wider region.
On 17 April, the Turkish state launched a new military campaign aimed at occupying the areas of Şikefta Birîndara, Kurêjaro (Kurazhar) and Çiyayê Reş in the Zap region of South Kurdistan. In this illegal, cross-border campaign, the Turkish Armed Forces have been using heavy artillery, warplanes, drones and helicopters, and airlifting ground forces by helicopter into the region as part of a parallel ground offensive. From the region of Zap, the Turkish forces aim to extend their occupation further into the regions of Metîna and Avaşîn-Basyan.
The use of heavy weaponry and ground forces presents a grave threat to the entire region, and unity among Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan and the diaspora is the only answer to this aggression. The recent Newroz celebrations on 21 March featured a proclamation of a Kurdish national unity stance, and over 10 million Kurds in North Kurdistan and Turkey delivered a clear message to Erdogan that they will not bow to his brutality or policy of annihilation. Millions of Kurds have provided Turkey with a path to peace, and expressed to the peoples of Turkey and the world that the freedom of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan will pave the way for peace in Turkey and beyond.
Appearances with certain Kurdish politicians from South Kurdistan will not help Erdogan hide his hostility towards the Kurdish people, as his track record of aggression against the Kurds in various parts of Kurdistan is well established. The recent Newroz celebrations showed the reality of Kurdish national consciousness and aspirations for freedom. Since Newroz, the torture and murder of Kurdish political prisoners has increased, as have attacks on offices of the progressive Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and arrests of those who participated in Newroz celebrations. Meanwhile, in Rojava and North and East Syria, Turkish airstrikes against the Kurds have intensified.
Erdogan is now facing many domestic crises, including a dire economic situation, and is desperately trying to prevent his downfall by escalating the Turkish state’s war against the Kurds to rally nationalist support at home, while working to reinforce Turkey’s position in the international diplomatic arena by attempting to play the role of mediator in the Ukraine crisis and claim a unique geostrategic position between NATO and Russia. If the world continues to turn a blind eye to Erdogan’s aggression, we will see increased bloodshed, displacement, and instability throughout Kurdistan and the Middle East.
We must break the silence on Turkey’s invasion of South Kurdistan and take action!
We call on all governments and international organisations, including the UN, NATO, the EU, the Council of Europe and the Arab League, to take urgent action against this violation of international law, to unambiguously condemn this crime of aggression, and to demand that Turkey withdraws its troops from South Kurdistan
We call on political parties, human rights organisations, organisations for peace, trade unionists and activists to oppose this Turkish aggression and occupation
Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress, April 18, 2022