Op-Ed: The Kurds And Their Two-Fronted Fight Against ISIS And TurkeyScreen Shot 2016-01-04 at 1.58.42 PM
Latest posts by Sgt. (Ret.) Theresa Giarratano (see all)
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The Kurdish people have a history dating back centuries and yet they still have no country to call their own and continue to fight for freedom and autonomy from ISIS and an oppressive Turkey led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It’s time to give the Kurds what they deserve, a country to call their own instead of living in contiguous areas of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, better known as Kurdistan.
One operation in particular brought the plight of the Kurds to the US in Operation Viking Hammer. In 2003, in Iraq Kurdistan, US Special Forces united with Kurdish rebels known as the Peshmerga (Peshmerga translated means “those that face death”) to fight Ansar Al-Islam who were occupying this Kurdish region of Iraq. 280 Green Berets of Task Force Viking and the Peshmerga dealt a crushing loss to Ansar Al-Islam and Operation Viking Hammer was to go down in history as “[wiping] out the world’s largest terrorist base with few losses.”
Although the Kurds have a long history of fighting for their freedom and autonomy, they face a very different kind of evil that can only be likened to a global metastasized cancer known as ISIS. As the Kurds take the fight to ISIS, we are able to read daily the significant gains that are being made by the brave Kurdish men and women who fight ISIS every day. Enter Turkey and its president, Erdoğan, who will use every tool in his disposal to crush the Kurds under the guise of fighting ISIS.
Erdoğan has no qualms about airing his disdain for the Kurds (PKK – Kurdish Workers Party) and will even go so far as to black out Turkish media to prevent the Kurds from getting their message out to the rest of the world. Using strong arm tactics against Kurdish women and children whilst the Turkish military and police conduct incessant raids to target and execute Kurds who refuse to bow down to him. His heinous acts against the Kurds can be likened to crimes against humanity and yet the UN and NATO turn a blind eye to all of this. This is an ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish people residing in Turkish Kurdistan and Erdoğan is getting away with murder, literally.
Erdoğan knows he has leverage to use if confronted by the UN / NATO in the form of withholding the use of Incirlik Air Base and strategic waterways, both of which can greatly hamper the ongoing war on ISIS. This is a quagmire for the US as well as her allies who continue to fight ISIS while being aware of his war on the Kurds/PKK. The fine line of diplomacy with Turkey (and Iraq) is being tested in the US Congress by passing legislation to directly arm the Kurds to fight ISIS, which would explain Erdoğan’s heightened and intensified raids on Kurdish towns and settlements.
As Erdoğan continues his reign of terror against the Kurds, he managed to anger Russia by shooting down one of its military jets, thus creating an uneasy tension between this NATO country and Russia. As the dust starts to settle, Russian media unleashed reports that Turkey is doing business with ISIS in the form of oil trade. This is the catalyst that is bringing Erdoğan’s misdeeds and shady dealings with ISIS into the light.
Until Erdoğan is formally reigned in by means of being ousted from power or removing Turkey from NATO, the Kurds will have no other choice but to continue to defend themselves and their livelihood against him whilst battling ISIS at the same time. The Kurds deserve our support not only on the two-fronted fight, but also for autonomy in the form of their own country, Kurdistan.