Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kurdish Spring (zanga zanga)...




Manipulated Irish Spring soap box cover, 1998, by Murat Cem Menguc.


Most of the Turkish ruling elite, meaning the Turkish Military, the state servants and the business elite consider the country an exceptional place. This sense of Turkey being an exceptional place is something they share with other countries, with whom they identify themselves. In other words, there is a global sense of superiority, an illusion of thinking oneself above and beyond the influence of history and Turkey is part of it.[1] One could suggest that this is a late NATO superiority complex, shared by the ruling elite of USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, but in a very similar fashion, the communist block also believes they now live in a historical epoch that the past is past and done with.
What some called as the end of the marriage of democracy and capitalism, and the beginning of a nasty divorce, or bringing of the crony capitalism and neo-liberalism to their knees by mass protests and uncertain markets, makes the global illusion Turkey suffers from an even more unmaintainable fiction.[2]
Added to this, as I have argued in my previous entries, Turkey also suffers from a sense of reverse orientalism; its ruling elite consider Turkey to be a subject of an ongoing colonialism, led by US and EU.[3] This reverse orientalism helps Turkish ruling elite to undermine the influence of history further, for it deliberately erases the historical fact that Turkey has been a colonial power itself, and has occupied other people’s lands, from the consciousness of its citizens. State supervised institutions, such as Turkish History Association and its practices are a prime example of this attitude. But not only the secular and Kemalist, as well as the conservative and Islamist political establishment position Turkey as an Oriental victim of the Occident, although cross dressing it like a European state whenever it fits their agenda.
The intellectuals in Turkey see the country as a place far superior to the Middle East, and almost always postulate their theories about this from their comfortable flats in the Western cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Observers from other nations, be it journalists or diplomats, almost always do the same. Yet Istanbul is like nothing that one would find in the rest of the country, and more than half of Turkey’s territories lie to the East of Ankara. It is therefore not a surprise that this East of Ankara is where the Turkish ruling elite always reminds Turkey that it is not beyond the influence of history.
Take a ruler and put it on a Turkish map, choosing Bingol, where the most recent suicide bomb attack by the Kurdish separatists took place as your first reference point.[4] Then align your ruler with any of the following predominantly Kurdish cities, Urfa, Biyarbakir or Erzurum. What lies to the East is where the Occidental Turkey colonized and massacred many Orientals, be them Kurdish or Armenian. The so called Kurdish issue, or problem, meaning what the gutless Turkish politicians and their followers cannot call the Kurdis insurgency or revolution, represents a nightmare in this context.
Among those who suffer from the above mentioned and possibly NATO induced self-superiority, being historically exceptional means having beaten the threat of communism, hence risen above the threat of people’s revolution. Yet, Kurds, as we all know, are very fond of PKK, which is a communist party. Kurds are popularly socialist, since 1980’s, and the last three decades convinced three generations of Kurds to adopt a socialist discourse for their independence.[5]
AKP can imagine itself as the ruler of the Turkish colonies, but its history in Kurdistan only adds up to a decade. Until very recently, AKP was also considered a tolerated party, rather than an elementary political institution, hence owing its existence to the disappointments of the general population with the existing political parties rather to the virtues of AKP.
Since June 2011, ethnic confrontation in Turkey, the Turkish occupied parts of Cyprus has become a daily fact. To top it all, AKP started to harbor a Syrian opposition movement, arming them against Assad, within the Kurdistan.[6] One wonders where the PKK will end up in this chaos. In the past, they have considered Syria an ally.
In short, it is no longer a question whether it is zanga zanga time in Kurdistan. A Kurdish spring is being talked about already.[7] In the age of civil disobedience, there will be those who taught greater lessons. Don’t be surprised if the exceptional Turkey falls prey to a not so exceptional conflict.


[1] A recent essay by Radikal columnist Cengiz Candar discussed this issue in a similar vein. http://www.radikal.com.tr/Radikal.aspx?aType=RadikalYazar&ArticleID=1069159&Yazar=CENG%DDZ%20%C7ANDAR&Date=12.11.2011&CategoryID=97&Rdkref=6
[2] In the following interview, Slavoj Zizek mainly voices these opinions. http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2011/10/2011102813360731764.html
[3] http://icga.blogspot.com/2011/03/reverse-orientalism-of-turkish-left.html
[4] http://www.todayszaman.com/news-261412-mother-saves-dozens-of-lives-in-bingol-suicide-bombing.html
[5] A good example is the Firat News, one of the most popular Kurdish news sites at the moment. http://www.firatnews.org/
[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/world/europe/turkey-is-sheltering-antigovernment-syrian-militia.html?pagewanted=all
[7] http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2011/10/2011102272338493300.html

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