Let’s Talk Türkiye

“…probably Allah alone knows why they did it.  And evidently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey, by depriving it of any reason or logic.”


By:       Cynthia M. Lardner


Buried in the media is the dirty little secret that Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proclaimed himself to be the next Caliphate.  A Caliphate is a prophet sent by Allah or God to rule over all of Islam, including providing just governance.

This is an intriguing concept considering that, by all accounts, President Erdoğan has been backing, not fighting the radicalized terrorists[i] in Syria, and has been bombing the Kurds in Syria, who, in concert with American led coalition forces, are actively fighting the radicalized terrorists.  This minimally presents an ethical conundrum, if not a treaty violation, as the coalition forces are backed by NATO, of which Türkiye is a member.

The issue becomes even sexier when also considering that President Erdoğan has engaged in the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kurds, both in and outside of Türkiye.  Ethnic cleansing and genocide, collectively known as Scientific Racism, is a crime against humanity.  This presents a compelling reason why Türkiye has chosen not to submit an International Court of Justice jurisdiction declaration and is non-party state to the International Criminal Court, both of which try crimes against humanity[ii].

Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the November 15-16, 2015 G20 summit in held in Türkiye, indirectly accused Türkiye of financing the radicalized terrorists.  A week later, a Russian fighter jet was shot down by the Turkish Air Force without provocation or compliance with required military protocols.

This sparked supported allegations by Mr. Putin that Türkiye was transporting and selling oil on behalf of the radicalized terrorists; the very group it was allegedly fighting in concert with coalition forces.  Mr. Putin responded by making the same allegations against Moscow.

This paper explores these concepts, as well as Türkiye’s relationship with Russia, the European Union, and the radicalized terrorists, and its interest in oil exports and imports.


‘“[S]ecularization of Türkiye started in the society during the last years of Ottoman Empire “the caliphate—the supreme politico-religious office of Islam, and symbol of the sultan’s claim to world leadership of all Muslims—was abolished [iii].””

The Prophet Muhammad “…institutionalized the “doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque[iv]”, giving rise to the title of “Caliphate”.   The Prophet Muhammad taught that the Caliphate is a God’s heaven sent Prophet to lead of all of Islam under a just system of governance.

Rejecting both a Caliphate and Sharia law, in 1921, Türkiye became a secular state, specifically a republican parliamentary democracy[v].  In 1982, Türkiye updated its governing document, the Constitution of the Republic of Türkiye.  A constitution is a contract between the people and its government.  The foundation of Türkiye’s constitution is laïcité, under which there is social and legal equality, democratic governance, religious freedom, and freedom of both thought and expression.

Türkiye passed enabling laws criminalizing hate crimes.  Over the years, these laws have been decreasingly enforced[vi], especially as to its Kurdish and Jewish[vii] populations.  Its historical Ottoman Anti-Semitic prejudices crossed international borders[viii], including the Jewish-Israeli population[ix].

Erdoğan’s Caliphate Claim

In late October 2014, President Erdoğan[x] stated it was his “grand design to recreate the Ottoman caliphate with the help of the Sunni jihadist army[xi]”.

“Erdoğan used the image of the caliphate and traditional Islamic values to gain popularity in the Middle East, expecting to gain it all over the world,” observed Ali Vyacheslav Polosin, Deputy Director of the Fund for Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education[xii].

Mr. Polosin further elaborated:

“After Erdoğan became president he started positioning himself in image ads not only as the president of the Turkish Republic, but as a reader of the Quran, as though he radiates some nur, light. It is more an image of a caliph, a ruler of true believers, than the president of a republic, especially considering that Türkiye has very great experience in this aspect[xiii].”

Before the November 14, 2015 referendum election, in which President Erdoğan was narrowly re-elected, one commentator noted:

“His supporters see him as a caliph, who stands against the forces of disorder and anarchy, the leader able to usher in a neo-Ottoman era for Turkey… Pro-AKP newspaper columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak this week said the Turkish President could become “caliph” of all Sunni Muslims in the world, if only Erdoğan could manage to fulfill his often-stated aim of shifting Turkey to a presidential system of governance.

His enemies also see him as the man who would be caliph, one who rides roughshod over secularism and modernity and would further erode the order established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secular founder of the Republic of Turkey[xiv].”

President Erdoğan has been further accused of manipulating Türkiye into a ‘parallel state’:

““Parallel state”, “deep state”, and “parallel structure” are terms all too familiar to the Turkish public. This dual state structure was developed after the 1960 coup and further strengthened by the 1982 constitution. The division is composed of two components: The first is the elected, accountable, visible and civilian government; while the second, an unelected, unaccountable and invisible structure embedded in high bureaucracy with affiliates in media and big business[xv].”

President Erdoğan may find regional success. “In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, other countries, the persona of Erdogan is popular among Muslims and even ruling elites. That is why Türkiye has its own game here[xvi].”   But, like all other countries, regional support neither creates the global relationships needed to sustain peace nor the international commerce and financial support needed to sustain its diverse and divided people, especially the Kurds.

The Kurds

The Kurds or کورد‎ are a Middle Eastern ethnic group, numbering 40 million worldwide; a majority of whom inhabit a contiguous area that includes parts of Iran, Southeastern Türkiye and Northern Syria, with the later known as Western Kurdistan or Rojava. Regardless of existing state boundaries, the Kurds, like the Palestinians, want to form their own state[xvii].

Kurds are overwhelmingly Muslim with the majority of Sunni descent[xviii].

The Kurds are so closely related to Iranian culture and linguistics that they themselves call themselves Iranian.  “The classification of the Kurds among the Iranian nations is based mainly on linguistic and historical data and does not prejudice the fact there is a complexity of ethnical elements incorporated in them[xix].”

As of 2008, Türkiye was 70-75% Turkish, 19% Kurdish, and 7-12% minorities.  Kurds in Türkiye number 10-20 million[xx].  Kurds are concentrated in the Southeast; “[a] strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link the Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah’s ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country[xxi].”

“Since the creation of the Turkish state in 1923, the Kurdish people have suffered egregious human rights abuses from Ankara [the Turkish capital] – from massacres to the denial of their very existence as a race[xxii].”

In more recent times, “A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – now known as the Kurdistan People’s Congress or Kongra-Gel (KGK) – dominated the Turkish military’s attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives. After the capture of the group’s leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey…[xxiii]”.  Many retreated to northern Iraq, while others made their way to Syria.

Photo Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

The Turkish Kurds

Kurds remaining in Türkiye have not improved their position[xxiv].  Right after President Erdoğan’s November reelection, three neighborhoods in the Kurdish town of Silvan in the Southeastern Diyarbakir Province were first placed under military curfew – with telephone lines, water, and electricity cut-off – and then attacked for almost two straight weeks.

“If Kurds left their homes, they would be shot. If they stayed in their homes, they would be bombed.  In 1990s, the Turkish military used to burn down Kurdish villages; today they burn down Kurdish towns[xxv].”

As soon as the rampage abated, an influential pro-Kurdish lawyer, Tahir Elci, was assassinated while speaking at a news conference at a historic mosque in Diyarbakir about the damage to historic buildings.

Elci had just told reporters, “We don’t want guns, clashes and operations in this historical area, which has been a cradle to many civilizations[xxvi].”

“Elci’s killing will harden political battle lines in Turkey at a moment when the country’s southeast is in turmoil, with the government intensifying a campaign against Kurdish militants and the war in Syria raging just across the border[xxvii].”

The radicalized terrorists were linked to this attack[xxviii].

Exodus to Syria

Exodus to neighboring Syria has occurred at several junctures in Turkish history.  The earliest to settle in Syria came after the failed March 1925 revolution of Sheikh Said when thousands of Kurds fled Southeastern Turkey to Syria.  They were granted Syrian citizenship by the then French authorities[xxix].

Following the 1962 Census, the government claimed they were illegal Turks and Iraqis residing in Syria. Over 120 000 Kurds or 40% of the Syrian Kurd population were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, and the Kurdish language and other cultural expressions banned[xxx]. Stripped of their nationality, deprived of passports to leave, these now stateless Kurds were still subjected to conscription in the military for a government they no longer supported.

Fast-Forwarding:  Today’s Kurd’s in Syria

Fast-forwarding, the “Kurds have a different agenda in Syria. The Democratic Union Party, PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK, has been pursuing its own interests in the region during the last decade[xxxi].”

“Turkey has been watching the growing strength of the Kurdish rebels’ armed offshoot, the YPG, across the border in Syria. The YPG has taken the lead in the fight against the Islamic State, driving its fighters from a number of border areas. In the process, it has captured territory next to Turkey’s southern border, creating a semiautonomous region[xxxii].”  This has heightened insecurity within the Mr. Erdoğan’s administration.

The West’s Response

Türkiye was and is accused of being the main passageway for radicalized terrorists traveling between Europe and Syria[xxxiii].

The Turkish-ISIS relationship was described by a 2014 Turkish ISIS escapee who had been conscripted to work as an ISIS communications expert:

“ISIS and Türkiye cooperate together on the ground on the basis that they have a common enemy to destroy, the Kurds…ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds were the common enemy for both ISIS and Türkiye. Also, ISIS had to be a Turkish ally because only through Türkiye they were able to deploy ISIS fighters to northern parts of the Kurdish cities and towns in Syria[xxxiv].”

Polat Can, a Kurdish[xxxv]  People’s Protection Units spokesman, elaborated, “[T]he Turkish army gives ISIS terrorists weapons, ammunitions and allows… border crossings in order for ISIS terrorists to initiate inhumane attacks against the Kurdish people in Rojava[xxxvi].”

Mr. Erdoğan’s “dealings with the ISIS are unacceptable[xxxvii]. I could not believe that Türkiye harbors an ISIS militant camp in Istanbul.  Türkiye has also allowed weapons to be transported into Syria through its borders. Also that the ISIS has been able to sell its oil via Türkiye is extraordinary,” stated Claudia Roth, Germany’s Deputy Speaker[xxxviii].

She concluded that, “President Erdoğan’s government is “pursuing a “murky” policy in Syria”, and NATO must force Türkiye, a NATO member to cease its support of ISIS and shift its policy toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party”[xxxix].

This precipitated a December 10, 2014 European Union visit with the objective of convincing Türkiye to fight with the Kurds against and no longer align with the radicalized terrorists[xl].

After having described the radicalized terrorists as “a threat to the whole region”, Iraqi Prime Haider al-Abadi made a similar request during a December 25, 2014 visit to Türkiye[xli].  The talks were reported positive as to cooperative joint counterterrorism efforts against the radicalized terrorists.

By January 2015, Türkiye’s relationship with the radicalized terrorists appeared strained[xlii].  Nonetheless, “…ISIS has garnered significant domestic support, as proven by reports of jihadi cells and hospitals operating in Türkiye… and the thousands of Turkish foreign fighters in Syria[xliii].”

Türkiye’s Syrian Target

Under pressure from coalition member nations, many of with which it engages in significant trade, Türkiye joined the American led coalition forces on July 24, 2015[xliv] and purported to begin an active military campaign against the radicalized terrorists.

To be fair, on the surface, Turkey’s president is fully involved in the fight against ISIS. In October he allowed U.S. jets to use Turkey’s Incirlik air base for operations against ISIS, pledging that his forces, too, would join the fight.

The trouble is that Erdogan, who has spent years ruthlessly concentrating power into his own hands, considers the Kurds an even greater threat to his nation than ISIS [xlv].

Srdja Trifkovic, a foreign affairs editor, was quoted as stating that “Over 80 percent of the tonnage of their [the Turkish Air Force] bombs would drop on the Kurds fighting ISIS in Northern Syria and North Western Iraq. Turkey has been consistent in pursuing its own agenda which is to pretend to be fighting ISIS while settling scores with the two parties that are actually capable of fighting ISIS on the ground.  It is perfectly consistent with Turkish behavior since it ostensibly joined the anti-ISIS campaign…[xlvi]

This same view has been espoused by others:

The fact is that ISIS could rapidly be destroyed if Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq — along with Kurdish guerillas in Turkey — were fully unleashed. They have proved extraordinarily militarily effective and oppose every aspect of Isis’s devilish ideology.

Yet this does not happen because PKK forces in Syria and Kurds in northern Iraq are under continual bombardment by the Turkish air force. No, the fact is that while Turkey may be a member of NATO — and of the alliance taking on the jihadists — Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS.

But then Erdogan has always been utterly ruthless when it comes to protecting his own interests [xlvii].

This is inconsistent with Türkiye’s obligations as a NATO member nation[xlviii].  Türkiye is “…is not only opportunistically attacking a political foe instead of a bona fide terrorist threat, but is actually helping to fund them[xlix](Emphasis Added).”

Mr. Erdoğan’s actions are also wholly inconsistent with his claim of being a Prophet sent by God to serve as the next Caliphate.  No Caliphate would engage in senseless and systemic Scientific Racism against the Sunni Kurds.  A Caliphate would offer the Kurds just governance.

Enter Russia

The following timeline highlights the rapidly devolving relationship between Türkiye and Russia:

September 30, 2015  Russia entered the Syrian War. Having not aligned with coalition forces, Russia quickly came under intense criticism by the coalition forces that it was striking targets inconsistent with and impeding concerted military objectives.

November 15-16, 2015  At the G20 Summit held in Antalya, Türkiye, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the radicalized terrorists are being funded by businessmen from over 40 countries, including some from G20 member states.   At the time, ‘”This earth-shattering news barely registered a blip on the Western mainstream media radar[l].”

November 24, 2015  Türkiye shot down the Russian fighter jet, which was not engaging in provocation and was not given the warnings or escorted out of the area as required by the treaties governing military engagement[li].

Given that the Russian fighter plane was only in Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, during which time it traversed less than 35 miles at a speed of 983 mph, it is impossible that there were ten warnings, as alleged by the Turkish government, or that, if warnings were received, that the pilot would have had adequate response time[lii].

November 25, 2015  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called upon Russia and Türkiye to reduce the tensions between them[liii].

November 26, 2015  A report questioned whether Mr. Putin’s statement at the G20 Summit was a precipitating event in Türkiye shooting down the Russian fighter jet[liv].

November 27, 2015   Türkiye denied knowledge that it knew the plane was Russian before it was shot down.  Mr. Erdoğan stated that had Türkiye known the plane was Russian “maybe we would have warned it differently[lv]“.  This calls into question the language in which warnings, if any, were given.

November 27, 2015  Russia responded by strengthening its Syrian anti-aircraft defences; it moved a cruiser into coastal waters and deployed new missiles at its Syrian air base.

Russia also announced that it planned on introducing a wide range of economic sanctions against Türkiye, and that it was suspending visa-free travel between the two countries, [lvi].

November 28, 2015  Mr. Erdoğan warned Mr. Putin not to “play with fire”[lvii].

December 1, 2015  “We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines…,” stated Mr. Putin[lviii].

December 1, 2015  Despite outside evidence to the contrary[lix], Türkiye challenged Russia to prove its claim that it shot down a Russian plane in order to protect its oil trade with the radicalized terrorists, with Mr. Erdoğan promising to step down as President if the allegations proved true[lx].

Not only does Türkiye’s protected airspace allow for the safe passage of radicalized terrorists but, it also protects its oil supply lines and transportation system from scrutiny.

December 1, 2015  “Russia is not part of the US-led coalition bombing ISIL positions. However, after the Paris terror attacks on November 13 which killed 130 people, the EU and other countries are seeking a worldwide anti-ISIL coalition including Moscow after a UN resolution called for “all necessary measures” to tackle the Islamic extremist threat[lxi].”

December 3, 2015  Russia’s Sergei Lavrov summarized the first diplomatic meeting with Türkiye since the fighter jet was shot down:  “We met with the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry on his insistent request, we heard nothing new[lxii].”

December 3, 2015  Russia suspended talks with Türkiye as to a Black Sea gas pipeline project[lxiii].

December 3, 2015  Mr. Putin, in a statement that strikes at the heart of Mr. Erdoğan’s Caliphate claim, stated, “…probably Allah alone knows why they did it.  And evidently Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey, by depriving it of any reason or logic[lxiv](Emphasis Added).”

Mr. Putin specifically distinguished between the Turkish leadership and Russia’s “many longstanding and reliable friends in Turkey[lxv]“.

December 4, 2015  Türkiye accused Russia of profiting from oil obtained from the radicalized terrorists.[lxvi].

December 5, 2015  Moscow releases video footage of oil tanker convoys traversing through-out Türkiye.

December 5, 2015  Several hundred Turkish troops, accompanied by 20 armoured vehicles, were deployed to ostensibly provide training for Iraqi troops in an area near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under Islamic State control, to train Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Although Türkiye views the Syrian Kurdish as hostile to its interests, it has maintained relations with the Kurds in the autonomous zone of northern Iraq[lxvii].

The Iraqi government, citing the move as unauthorized, demanded the immediate removal of Turkish troops.

December 5, 2015  Russia adopted a law allowing it to overrule judgements from the European Court of Human Rights[lxviii].


The evidence is replete that Mr. Erdoğan’s well-calculated public statements and the conduct of not only the Turkish government but of the parallel state Mr. Erdoğan has obviously created, with himself being its self-proclaimed Caliphate, are inconsistent and self-serving.

The overwhelming evidence is that Türkiye has and is supporting the radicalized terrorists on many levels and, that under the guise of being a member of the coalition led forces, including NATO, that it has been bombing the Kurds, the one group that has made headway in the ground war against the radicalized terrorists.

A gap in evidence exists as to whether the Turkish-Russian oil pipeline that has been derailed would have been used to transport oil obtained from the radicalized terrorists and whether Russia was already involved in the purpose of this oil.  While Russian involvement has been alleged by Mr. Erdoğan, the allegations are not corroborated.

About the Author

Cynthia M. Lardner holds a journalism degree, she is an attorney, and has trained as a clinical (school and agency) therapist. As a thought leader, her philosophy is to collectively influence conscious global thinking understanding that everything and everyone is subject to change given the right circumstances; Standard Theory or Theory of Everything.

Having just relocated to Den Hague or The Hague, she is currently looking for a challenging position that will fully utilize her collective skill set.  She is particularly interested in foreign policy and social justice.


[i] Out of respect for the millions of peaceful Muslims, this paper will not use the acronyms IS, ISIS or ISIL as they stigmatize the innocent and because the ongoing terrorism has absolutely nothing to do with Islam.  Terrorism is a business that uses fear and the commission of war crimes and crimes against to humanity to line its coffers.  The radicalized terrorists’ use of Islam in any of the titles it has given itself is blasphemy, as is recognized by many religions, including Islam, as being the most heinous of sins.  For purposes of this paper, the term “radicalized terrorists” is being adopted as it seems more appropriate.

[ii] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency, as found on the www at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tu.html.

[iii] Konda, Research and Consultancy, “Religion, Secularism and the Veil in daily life”, September 8, 2007, Milliyet, as found on the www athttp://www.angelfire.com/az/rescon/ALEVI.html.

[iv] Crooke, A., “You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia,” August 27, 2014, The Huffington Post, as found on the www at http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5717157.

See also “What’s the appeal of a caliphate?”, October 24, 2014, BBC News Magazine, as found on the www at http://m.bbc.com/news/magazine-29761018; Cordal, S., “How ISIS Governs Its Caliphate:, December 2, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www at http://www.newsweek.com/2014/12/12/how-isis-governs-its-caliphate-288517.html.

[v] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[vi] Gardner, D., “Turkey: slipping into the vortex?” January 9, 2015, FT Magazine, as found on the www at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/cdc5c064-96c0-11e4-922f-00144feabdc0.html (“Erdogan finally secured the opening of EU membership talks in 2005. His government was prodigal in packages of constitutional and regulatory reform….Turkey that year had more cases (159) taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg than Vladimir Putin’s Russia (121). At the time it had 104 journalists in jail, 69 of them from the Kurdish minority, but more than Iran (42) and China (27) combined.”).

[vii] Bekdel, B., “Heading for a Jew-Free Turkey”, December 23 2014, Middle East Forum, as found on the www at http://www.meforum.org/4938/heading-for-a-jew-free-turkey (“At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 200,000 Jews in Turkish lands – when the entire population was barely 10 million. Today, the Turkish population has reached 77 million – and there are fewer than 17,000 Jews.”) (Mahcupyan, has published more than 15 books and has written regular columns in Turkey’s leading liberal newspapers.).

See also International Religious Freedom Report 2004, United States Department of State, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR, as found on the www at http://m.state.gov/md35489.html  (The total area in Turkey is 301,383 square miles, and its population is approximately 67.8 million. Approximately 99 percent of the population is officially Muslim, of whom 75% are Sunni.  There are also 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 25,000 Jews, and less than 3,000 Greek Orthodox Christians, who under the 1923 Lausanne Treaty are granted special legal minority status.).

[viii] Bekdel, Infra Endnote iii (“[T]here is Israel… As long as the psychology of the Israel issue continues to influence politics in Türkiye and relations between the two countries do not normalize….,” stated Turkish-Armenian author, Etyen Mahcupyan.  The line Mahcupyan shyly did not finish probably would have gone on like this: “Türkiye’s Jews will keep on paying the price.”).

[ix] In December 2014, newly-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated Türkiye was backing the Hamas.  He terminated Türkiye’s Israeli diplomatic relationship.

[x] Gardner, Infra Endnote ii.  “President Erdogan, a known admirer of Vladimir Putin, has had 10 straight victories at the polls since 2002: one by-election; three general elections; three local elections; two referendums on constitutional changes; and last summer’s apotheosis from premier to president. For more than a decade, he has been lord of all he surveys.”

[xi] Maloof, F., “Turkish President Gathers Power to Fulfill Islamic ‘Caliphate’ Vision: Angling for constitutional change to maintain authority,” October 29, 2014, Wind, as found on the www at http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/10/turkish-president-gathers-power-to-fulfill-islamic-caliphate-vision/#58S3yxsjy4AtHvHu.9. This could have only created tension with the leader of the radicalized terrorists, Abu Bakr.

[xii] Kavkaza, V., “How Erdogan uses idea of caliphate,” December 9, 2014, Vestnik, as found on the www athttp://vestnikkavkaza.net/articles/kl;politics/63155.html.

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] Dettmer, Jamie, “Critics, Even Supporters Say: Erdoğan is the Man Who Would Be Caliph”, October 27, 2015, Voice of America, as found on the www athttp://m.voanews.com/a/3024375.html.

[xv] Dalay, G., “Turkey’s parallel state strikes back”, January 6, 2015, Al Jazeera, as found on the www athttp://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/turkey-parallel-state-strikes-back-20141545517864901.html.

[xvi] Kavkaza, V., Infra Endnote xii.

[xvii] Marcus, Aliza, and Apostolou, Andrew, “Why It’s Time For A Free Kurdistan”, November 27, 2015, Daily Beast, as found on the www athttp://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/27/the-kurds-already-have-independence.html (“It’s time to stop debating whether or not the Kurds deserve an independent state. There are around 40 million Kurds across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria—the largest ethnic group without self-determination. Kurds have long sought independence, but the states in which they live have always opposed it. The U.S. and its Western allies oppose Kurdish independence because of fears it could destabilize the already volatile Middle East.

The question now is whether the U.S. and others can accept Kurdish self-rule. That question is more urgent given the importance of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria for the fight against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS. As importantly, can the Kurds learn to accept their own divisions and not constantly meddle in each other’s affairs?);  “Double dealing tyrant who’s sabotaging the West’s battle to crush ISIS: Turkey’s Erdogan seems to be doing almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS, writes MICHAEL BURLEIGH”, November 27, 2015, Daily Mail, as found on the www athttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3335819/Double-dealing-tyrant-s-sabotaging-West-s-battle-crush-ISIS-Turkey-s-Erdogan-doing-cripple-forces-actually-fighting-ISIS-writes-MICHAEL-BURLEIGH.html (“A fifth of Turkey’s 75 million people are Kurds who, along with fellow Kurds in Syria, Iran and Iraq, want to form their own country, with a population of some 40 million. Erdogan sees this plan for a Kurdish nation as a mortal threat to Turkey and will take any opportunity to attack those behind it.”).

[xviii] Besheer, Mohamed, “Who are the Iraqi Kurds?”, Pew Research Center, as found on the www at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/20/who-are-the-iraqi-kurds/.

[xix] Bois, T.; Minorsky, V.; MacKenzie, D. N., “Kurds, Kurdistan” (2009) (The Kurds, an Iranian people of the Near East, live at the junction of more or less laicised Turkey”. …We thus find that about the period of the Arab conquest a single ethnic term Kurd (plur. Akrād) was beginning to be applied to an amalgamation of Iranian or iranicised tribes).

[xx] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[xxi] Id.

[xxii] Bridge, Robert, “NATO-member Turkey defending Islamic State while killing Kurds”, November 26, 2015, Reuters News Agency, as found on the www at https://www.rt.com/op-edge/323539-nato-turkey-kurds-russia/.

[xxiii] Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii.

[xxiv] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote xxiii (“From the Zilan massacre (1930) to the Dersim massacre (1937), the Kurds have witnessed endless violence against their people. In fact, until 1991 the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” in an effort to deny these people their very existence as a separate race.”).

[xxv] Bulut, Uzay, “Turkey Destroys Kurdistan, World Silent”, November 19, 2015, Gatestone Institute, as found on the www athttp://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6922/turkey-destroys-kurdistan (Ziya Pir, a deputy of HDP, said that an official from the Ministry of Interior told him that “they will erase these three neighborhoods in Silvan from the map… Special operations teams open fire at everything they see as alive.”).

[xxvi] “The Killing of a Kurdish Lawyer Means Dark Days for Turkey”, November 29, 2015, Time Magazine, as found on the www athttp://time.com/4128696/tahir-elci-kurdish-lawyer-assassination-turkey/ (“Elci was killed with one shot, in what Human Rights Watch has called an “assassination.” His killer has not been identified.”).

See also Cakan, Seyhmus, “Top Kurdish lawyer shot dead in southeast Turkey”, November 28, 2015, Reuters News, as found on the www athttp://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0TH07N20151128 (“an incident likely to fuel further unrest in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast”).

[xxvii] Id.

This author has refrained from personal commentary but, during two recent layovers at the Atatürk Airport in Yeşilköy, Bakırköy, Istanbul, she made three observations. First, in the Mediterranean Sea, the gateway from the West to the East without having to circle under the Cape of South Africa, military vessels dotted a landscape largely devoid of commercial shipping vessels.  Second, with scant exception, the sole aircraft observed at the Istanbul airport were from Turkish Airlines, a ‘flag carrier’ airline, i.e. one that is owned by the government or lacking in privatization.  Türkiye’s airspace is protected airspace.  Third, discussions at the airport with professionals ranging from engineers to the captains of both Russian and Romanian vessels were robust but conducted in hushed voices lest they have been overheard.

[xxviii] Paled, Daniella, Supra Endnote xli.

[xxix] Robert W. Olson, The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion, 1880–1925”, p. 107, 1989, University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0-292-77619-7.

[xxx] Chatty, Dawn, 2010. Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge University Press. pp. 230-231; Short, Martin, and McDermott, Anthony, “The Kurds, 1981, p. 13

[xxxi] Genc, Kaya, “Syria Should Not Cost Turkey Its Peace With the Kurds”, November 30, 2015, Huffington Post, as found on the www athttp://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8678844.

[xxxii] Detmer, Jamie, Infra Endnote xiv.

[xxxiii] Id.

[xxxiv] Guiton, B., ‘ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally’: Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation, November 7, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www at http://www.newsweek.com/isis-and-turkey-cooperate-destroy-kurds-former-isis-member-reveals-turkish-282920.

[xxxv] Christie-Miller, A., “Kurds Accuse Turkish Government of Supporting ISIS,” October 22, 2014, Newsweek, as found on the www athttp://www.newsweek.com/2014/10/31/kurds-accuse-turkish-government-supporting-isis-278776.html (“An ethnic and linguistic group of some 30 million divided between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds were among the great losers of the carve up of the Ottoman Empire following the First World War. While the United States’ 2003 Iraq invasion led to the emergence of Kurdish self-rule there, the other Kurdish populations have had mixed fortunes.

In Turkey, the Islamist-rooted government has initiated a peace process that has loosened restrictions on Kurdish cultural freedom, allowing limited Kurdish language education, and offering the prospect of greater autonomy for the country’s 15 million Kurds.

In Syria, home to some two million Kurds, they remained under strict oppression by the Assad government, with many denied basic citizenship.”).

[xxxvi] Id.

[xxxvii] “Report: Erdogan Trying to Hide Evidence of Supporting ISIS“, January 6, 2015, The Tower, as found on the www at http://www.thetower.org/1493-erdogan-trying-to-hide-evidence-of-involvement-in-supporting-terrorism/. Following a January 2015 announcement that the West intended to investigate Turkish terrorist support including having providing safe passage to Syria, President Erdoğan promptly denied all accusations.  He reportedly destroyed evidence of any involvement by either himself or other Turkish leaders.  This announcement came on the heels of the U.N. stating Palestine would be granted ICC member nation status to investigate the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

[xxxviii] Id.; “German deputy speaker: NATO must stop Turkey support for ISIS”, December 10, 2014, Rudaw, as found on the www athttp://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/12102014.

[xxxix] Rudaw, Infra Endote vii.

[xl] Id. The EU contingency was comprised of EU Chief Diplomat, Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy, Johannes Hahn, and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

[xli] “Iraq, Turkey talk military cooperation in battling ISIS,” December 26, 2014, The New York Daily News, as found on the www athttp://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/iraq-turkey-talk-military-cooperation-battling-isis-article-1.2056990.

[xlii] “One Turkish soldier kidnapped in Syria, sources confirm,” January 3 2015, The Turkish Weekly, as found on the www athttp://www.turkishweekly.net/news/178060/one-turkish-soldier-kidnapped-in-syria-sources-confirm.html (A Turkish officer was kidnapped while crossing into to Syria. “The security forces have focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been fighting against the ISIL jihadists in Syria, as possible actors.”); “Turkish soldier kidnapped by jihadists in Syria freed”, January 5, 2015, The Global Post, as found on the www at http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/150105/turkish-soldier-kidnapped-jihadists-syria-freed-pm (kidnapping confirmed an ISIS operation following successful rescue operation by Turkish intelligence and armed forces).

[xliii] Williams, L, “ISIS has polarized Turkey domestically”, January 5, 2015, The Daily Star Lebanon, as found on the www at  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2015/Jan-05/283032-isis-has-polarized-turkey-domestically.ashx#sthash.MYIVP946.dpuf.

[xliv] Paled, Daniella, “ISIS in Turkey: Erdogan’s two-front battle with ISIS and the Kurds”, November 24, 2015, Haaretz, as found on the www athttp://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/isis/isis-in-turkey/1.688056 (An agreement between Washington and Ankara, signed in August 2015, integrated Turkey into the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State.).

See also Turkey, The World Fact Book, Infra Endnote ii (“Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1963, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; it began accession membership talks with the EU in 2005. Over the past decade, economic reforms have contributed to a quickly growing economy.”)

Economically, even though over 13,000 E.U. companies, backed by foreign investment, operate in Türkiye , it was denied E.U. member state status after formally seeking membership in 2005. “European countries such as France and Germany kept raising barriers to E.U. entry — insisting that Türkiye was too big, too poor and, above all, too Muslim to qualify .”  This history is akin having imposed economic sanctions.  See Williams, L, “ISIS has polarized Turkey domestically”, January 5, 2015, The Daily Star Lebanon, as found on the www athttp://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2015/Jan-05/283032-isis-has-polarized-turkey-domestically.ashx#sthash.MYIVP946.dpuf; January 6, 2015, Bloomberg, as found on the www athttp://www.bloomberg.com/video/turkey-eu-politics-top-eurasia-groups-2015-risks-list-WUSV3U6eSRC9ZCu0y~pU3g.html (Turkey one of the EU’s “biggest geopolitical risks in 2015”); and Gardner, Infra Endnote x.

[xlv] “Double dealing, Infra Endnote xvii.

[xlvi] Bridges, Robert, Infra Endnote xxii.

See also See also Miller, Anna, “Turkish president ignores ISIS, stokes civil war with Kurds”, November 10, 2015, The Intercept, as found on the www athttps://theintercept.com/2015/11/10/turkish-president-ignores-isis-stokes-civil-war-with-kurds/ (Since joining the U.S. led coalition, Türkiye’s “…military actions have struck far more Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) targets than ISIS targets, leading many to suspect that the government is using ISIS as an excuse to reignite the civil war against the PKK and intimidate the Kurdish population.).

[xlvii] “Double dealing tyrant, Infra Endnote xvii.

[xlviii] Id. (“The willingness of Turkish government to take advantage of its NATO membership to inflict damage on a marginalized national group shows the depths the government of President Recep Erdoğan will go to fulfill his own agenda. It also shows how dangerous military blocs – like NATO – can be when unpredictable states gain affiliation in them.

So while the United States had long sought Turkey’s assistance in Syria, using the Incirlik Air Base to launch attacks against (allegedly) Islamic State, the events since the agreement show a dangerous divergence of interests in the region.”).

[xlix] Id.

[l] Russia entered the Syrian War on September 30, 2015 under intense criticism by the coalition forces that it was striking targets inconsistent with and impeding concerted military objectives.

[li] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote xxii.

[lii] Mortimer, Colleen, “Turkey shoots down Russian plane: Physicists say both official accounts are scientifically impossible”, December 3, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/turkey-shoots-down-russian-plane-astrophysicists-say-both-official-accounts-are-partially-a6752741.html (“Two Belgian astrophysicists have questioned both the official accounts of how a Russian military plane was shot down by Turkey on Tuesday. Writing a blogpost for their university, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Dr Tom van Doorsslaere and Dr Giovanni Lapenta, said the plane could not have gone down the way either country said it had. Turkey said the plane was in their airspace for 17 seconds but the physicists concluded that when travelling at a speed of 980 km/h (609 m/h) the plane would have crossed over in just seven seconds. From this they said it was extremely unlikely they issued ten warnings in five minutes because the plane travelling at that speed could cross 80km (50m) in 80 seconds.  Russia has claimed the plane made a 90 degree turn after it was hit and it was actively trying to avoid Turkish airspace. They explained that at that speed:  “A change of course of 90 degrees can only be achieved with an object that’s many times heavier or faster than the jet.”).

[liii] “Russia: “significant consequences” over jet downing”, November 25, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34918055.

[liv] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote ii.

[lv] “Putin: Turkey ‘knew downed fighter jet was Russian'”, November 27, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34940109.

[lvi] “Turkey-Russia jet downing: Moscow beefs up defences in Syria”, November 28, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34950355.

See also Tomkiw, Lynn, “Russia-Turkey Relations Update: Ukraine Offers To Step In After Fruit And Vegetable Ban”, November 20, 2015, IB Times, as found on the www at http://www.ibtimes.com/russia-turkey-relations-update-ukraine-offers-step-after-fruit-vegetable-ban-2203844 (“If Turkey’s traditional partners impose sanctions, that is, they will suspend to supply their grain, Ukraine is ready to at least double its exports of grain, corn and sunflower oil,” Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Oleksiy Pavlenko said in a statement posted on social media, local media reported. “Turkey is our long-lasting and reliable partner; we are ready to act as a guarantor of food security for Turkey.”).

[lvii] “Erdogan warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’ over downed jet”, November 28, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34949731.

[lviii] “Turkey challenges Russia over IS oil trade claim”, December 1, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34971506.

[lix] Bridge, Robert, Infra Endnote ii (Paul Nuttall, UKIP Deputy Leader, stated that, “There is evidence that Ankara is purchasing oil off ISIS,” Nuttall told RT. “If you remember, the Turkish did absolutely nothing in the siege of Kobani. It seems that if Turkey is more worried about the threat of the Kurdish population than it is about IS.”

His statement is backed by that of retired US General Wesley Clark, who in a recent interview with CNN, stated, “Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling, it’s going through somewhere, it looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey.”).

[lx] “Turkey challenges Russia over IS oil trade claim”, December 1, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34971506.

[lxi] Akkoc, Raziye, “Ankara’s decision to shoot down Russian plane was wrong, says leading Turkish politician”, December 1, 2015, as found on the www athttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/12025662/Ankaras-decision-to-shoot-down-Russian-plane-was-wrong-says-leading-Turkish-politician.html (“It was not right for Turkey to shoot down the plane because it escalated [tension] in a fragile situation and increased the risk of deaths among the anti-Isil set of countries. “There is a [group] against Isil and Turkey shot down one part of this. Russia is a part of the fight against Isil,” stated Ms Yuksekdag”.).

[lxii] Turkey, Russia hold first high-level bilateral talks since plane crisis, December 3, 2015, Deutsche Welle, as found on the www athttp://www.dw.com/en/turkey-russia-hold-first-high-level-bilateral-talks-since-plane-crisis/a-18893379.

[lxiii] “Russia halts Turkey gas project talks amid Syria row”, December 3, 2015, BBC News, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34995472.

[lxiv] Putin: Turkey ‘will regret’ downing Russian bomber in Syria, December 3, 2015, BBC News, as found on www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-zone.

[lxv] Id.

[lxvi] “Turkey hits back after Russian allegations about Islamic State oil”, December 4, 2015, The Week, as found on the www athttp://www.theweek.co.uk/syria/65094/turkey-hits-back-after-russian-allegations-about-islamic-state-oil (“”Who buys oil from [IS]? Let me say it: George Haswani, holder of a Russian passport and a Syrian national, is one of the biggest merchants in this business,” said President Recep Tayyip ErdoganHis comments come just one day after the Russian defence ministry levelled the same accusation at the Turkish president, insisting they had proof to implicate him and his family in the illegal trade.”).

[lxvii] Pamuk, Humeyra and Coskun, Orhan , “Turkish soldiers training Iraqi troops near Mosul – sources”, December 5, 2015, Reuters News, as found on the www at http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/idINKBN0TN2F620151205?irpc=932.

[lxviii] “Russia passes law to overrule European human rights court”, December 5, 2015, as found on the www at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35007059 (“..Russia has often taken issue with rulings against it, including one by the ECHR last year ordering Moscow to pay more than $2bn (£1.3bn; €1.8bn) in compensation to shareholders in the defunct Russian oil firm, Yukos.”).


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