PKK’s Transformation

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Leyla Zana is a prominent intellectual in the PKK movement (Image by jan_Kurdistan at Flickr)

It is essential that the now feminist PKK movement completes its already profound processes of democratization in clearly leaving its Marxist-Leninist past behind as moral clarity is indeed essential to the future and freedom of Kurdistan and its people. Free media and open society are the best possible international promotion of the emancipation and liberation of the people of Kurdistan.

The PKK used to be a ruthlessly cynical totalitarian organization just as other similar Communist guerrilla movements and Communist terrorist organizations worldwide. Communism is a totalitarian ideology and totalitarianism is pure evil disguised as populism.

Israel has never deeply aligned itself with a sincerely totalitarian movement of any kind and never will. The Jewish people and the Kurdish people do however have special ties going back over 27 centuries and for this reason and despite the Communist PKKs official hostility against Israel and the United States did Israel always remain neutral in the armed conflict between Kemalist Turkey and the Communist PKK. Kemalism was clearly a lesser evil than Communism at the time and had the Communist PKK succeeded would it have established a totalitarian Communist Kurdistan which would have meant a hundred times worse suffering for the Kurdish people than under Kemalism. The old PKK was an agent of totalitarianism and was furthermore on the wrong side in the global conflict known as the Cold War.

Israel therefore was under no commitment or obligation whatsoever to support or in any way assist any kind of totalitarian movement and indeed entirely irrespectively so of ethnicity. The old Communist PKK was an enemy of the Kurdish people as totalitarianism is indeed an enemy of every human people. Israel was therefore completely right in refusing to support the Communist PKK as Israel was always careful to politically side against totalitarianism. The old PKK was aligned with both Ba’athist Syria and the Communist Soviet Union and the PKK in Lebanon had close relations with Palestinian Communist organizations that are still proud of their own Nazi-style history of genocidal terrorism against Jewish civilians.

Israel has always made an optimal effort to honor requests from its Kurdistani allies in Israel having assisted the KDP since 1963, the PUK since 1986 and the PKK since 2004. Israel could however have done far more in taking initiatives of its own beyond merely honoring requests from our Kurdistani partners. In fact we do so now. But should we really apologize for not helping the Kurds more than the Kurds themselves requested? The Kurdish political parties ought apologize to the Kurdish people on account of having asked for far too little. Israel however has learned from history in that our support for the Kurdish people must be unlimited by any stance, position or request from any particular Kurdistani political party or movement.

It was the PKK’s essential transformation from Communist totalitarianism to moderate and pro-democratic feminism which enabled and enables the ever-deepening alliance between Israel and the PKK movement. It was the PKK which rightly changed and indeed switched sides in the global struggle between freedom and totalitarianism. The PKK movement certainly needs to be credited for that and the PKK needs at some point apologize to the Kurdish people for the totalitarian past of the PKK and the crimes which the Communist PKK tragically committed against the Kurdish people.

The PKK needs not really publicly apologize to Israel and the United States for its then official Anti-Zionism and Anti-Imperialism (both Soviet propaganda tropes) for Jerusalem and Washington understand that these were mere realpolitik and propaganda on the part of the PKK at the time. It would however certainly be in the interest of the Kurdish people for the PKK movement to cease publicly disguising its pro-Israeli and pro-American sympathies and the PKK movement ought robustly counter propaganda remnants of the Anti-Israeli and Anti-American KGB-propaganda discourse of “Anti-Zionism and Anti-Imperialism” within the ranks of the PKK movement.

Just as the formerly rightwing populist political parties with fascist roots in Western Europe need to fully complete their already advanced transformation into mainstream pro-democratic Neoconservatism so needs the once Communist PKK fully complete its advanced transformation from totalitarianism to pro-democratic feminism. This also means that the PKK needs to stop spreading totalitarian-style propaganda as the best information is rather provided by a domestic and truly independent free media indeed.

Free Kurdistan is currently an Israeli-American sphere of interest in geopolitical terms and so it is certainly strongly the hope and expectation in Jerusalem and Washington that the three major Kurdistani political movements will successfully be able to incrementally make the transition from authoritarianism to freedom and representative governance and thus themselves upgrade Free Kurdistan from an assortment of clients to a strategic ally as befits Kurdistan’s special relationships with Israel and America, the world’s two only military superpowers.

Despite all evidence in terms of increasingly extensive support is it difficult for many in the three major Kurdistani political movements to internalize that Jerusalem and Washington strongly support them because we believe in unified Kurdistani independence. This has furthermore always been the case with Israel’s support for the Kurdistani movement as Israel originally supported the Kurdistani struggle for unified independence for the same reason that we also always supported the South Sudanese struggle for unified independence. Nothing has changed in this regard since 1963 and nothing will change in this regard as the Israeli-Kurdistani relationship is ever-growing indeed.

Free Kurdistan’s special relationships with Israel and the United States are precisely non-partisan, meaning that these are not dependent upon which political parties that happen to be in power in America, Israel and Kurdistan. That is precisely the nature of a special relationship in international affairs which is a people-to-people relationship indeed.

It would however certainly serve the PKK movement well in international affairs were it to make a clean break in repudiating its own past and strongly apologize to the Kurdish people for the crimes that the Communist PKK committed against the people of Kurdistan. The PKK would also be particularly well advised to begin educating their people about the history of Kurdistani-Israeli relations and publicly repudiate the libels and lies that were spread against Israel by the then Communist PKK and are still spread by some in the PKK movement.

These myths include 1) the libel that Israel aligned with Turkey against the PKK rather than against the non-Kurdish enemies of the Israeli-sponsored Kurdistan Regional Government, 2) the libel that Israel was not strictly neutral in the armed conflict between Kemalist Turkey and the Communist PKK, 3) the libel that Israel participated in the joint Turkish & American capture of Abdullah Öcalan, 4) the libel that Israel still sells weapons to Turkey and 5) the false claim propaganda claim that the PKK took part in attacks against Israeli soil as perpetrated by a Communist Palestinian terrorist organization.

It would historically have been difficult for Israel to aid its Kurdistani partners without relationships with Kurdistan’s neighbors. Indeed the Kurdistani movement has itself found it difficult to wage the Kurdistani struggle without relationships with neighboring states. Israel first aided Free Kurdistan through Iran, later through Turkey, later through Iraq and now through Syria. Israel’s former weapons exports to Kemalist Turkey crucially gave Israel influence over how those weapons were used as any country is dependent on deliveries of spare parts in wartime from the country exporting the weapons and this thus protected the Kurdistan Regional Government self-governing region of northern Iraq from major Turkish invasion and Kemalist annexation which would have been somewhat attractive for Dönmeh-led Derin Devlet at the time considering the many Dönmeh tribes/clans in the Badinan region of Iraqi Kurdistan, including the Barzanis.

There are those in the region and beyond who use politically naive and historically ignorant individual Kurds for propaganda purposes in order to isolate the Kurds in the international arena by trying to sow divisions between Free Kurdistan on the one hand and Israel and America on the other. Let’s therefore be transparent about the fact that this is clearly not in the interest of the Kurdistani movement and the Kurdish people but in fact rather serves Anti-Kurdish agendas with the purpose of trying to undermine the people-to-people special relationship between the Jewish people and the Kurdish people, both of which have long histories of suffering diplomatic betrayals in international affairs.

The reason however why many leading members of the three major Kurdistani movements find it difficult to understand why Israel’s support for Kurdistan is non-partisan is precisely because they themselves strongly tend to put partisan interest over Kurdistani national interests, a political practice which is not only deplorable and even despicable but certainly from the perspective of Jerusalem and Washington completely unacceptable indeed.

The Kurdish political parties have dirty histories of unpatriotic and undemocratic behaviors and they need to apologize for that to their own people. They need however do that as part of an official and non-partisan Kurdistani Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Historical Inquiry. Free Kurdistan has not yet reached the political maturity for this and so this essential task therefore falls on Israeli Kurds (Kurdish Rabbinic Jews) who live in an an open, free and democratic society indeed.

The PUK has for many years led the presidency of Iraq and this has given the PUK important experience and profound insights into the world of international diplomacy and so the PUK should very much share those insights with those Kurdistani diplomats who are affiliated with other Kurdistani political parties than the PUK.

The PKK movement officially claims to be opposed to Kurdistani independence in any form or shape while the KDP claims to only seek Kurdistani independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, even to the most peculiar exclusion of self-governing Syrian Kurdistan. Israel’s official support for Kurdistani independence is however not limited to Iraqi Kurdistan and so the whole world needs to know that Israeli Kurds – who have always managed the Israel-Kurdistani special relationship – unlike Israel’s Kurdistani partners have never acted as jash (traitors), never engaged in brakuji (war between Kurds) and never aligned against the Kurdish people with enemies of the Kurdish people.

The Rabbinic Jews of Kurdistan were however often treated like Dhimmis by Muslim Kurds despite the otherwise warm ties and some culturally Muslim Kurds have unfortunately continued this in a manner as if somehow the Jews were still clients of the Kurds and not the other way around. Indeed marriage by abduction by Muslim Kurds was the greatest fear among unmarried rabbinically Jewish Kurdish females until the community left for Israel in the early 1950s. Although nominally Islamized Kurdish tribal members protected their rabbinically Jewish kinfolks were this typically insufficient due to relative powerlessness and Israel’s ability to support Kurdistan has similarly been limited by Israel’s degree of political influence in the region at any given point in modern history.

Diplomatic relations are not treason and those Kurds who oppose Israel’s diplomatic relations with Free Kurdistan’s neighbors seem distinctly unconcerned with Israeli regional interests beyond Kurdistan and such a deplorable attitude is unbefitting of a profoundly mutual nature of a people-to-people special relationship. Israel’s diplomatic relationships with Kurdistan’s neighbors are strategically in the interest of both Israel and Free Kurdistan and have never, ever since Israel’s founding been pursued at the expense of the national interests of the people of Kurdistan and in fact never will and not least so because unified Kurdistani independence is an Israeli core national interest indeed. This is not to deny that the Kurdistani political parties ought historically have asked for more and that Israel ought have done more than asked to and so we all need to learn from history.

All forms of totalitarianism such as Ba’athism, Communism, Islamism, Juche, Kahanism and Nazism need to be fought and entirely irrespective of ethnicities of supporters of totalitarianism for totalitarianism is the enemy of humanity indeed. The growing Alawite-Yezidi alliance between Damascus and Free Kurdistan is indeed precisely enabled by the profound discrediting of the totalitarian ideologies of Ba’athism and Communism respectively.

While other peoples in the Middle East (e.g. Syrians, Iranians and peoples of GCC countries) have been growing increasingly more pro-Israel in past decades have Kurds in the past ten years on the popular level become increasingly less pro-Israel despite ever-growing Israeli and and Israeli-encouraged American support for Free Kurdistan during this period and that change in perception in Kurdish public opinion is unfortunately a result of both multidimensional cultural processes of Islamization among the Kurdish people as well as lingering PKK libels against Israel. It is a core interest of the people of Kurdistan to instead robustly reinforce and profoundly build people-to-people relationships with many countries worldwide and obviously especially so with its very closest allies indeed.