East of Euphrates River
It is rather difficult to talk about Turkey’s preparedness to engage in a military operation towards the east of River Euphrates without touching on the terms of national security, existential threats and similar things. Equally, the issue cannot be discussed if the Kurdish issue is to be ignored or not visited with a realistic approach.
The Kurdish population is divided, segmented and dispersed. Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, among many other smaller nations, have Kurdish groups whose presence cannot be described adequately with the West’s minority-majority notion. Each country has its own uniqueness and ethnic groups, forming modern nations which have developed a sense of togetherness spanning centuries. Except the religious-ethnic divide, which unfortunately was made all the more blatant with the sad events of the 19th century, various ethnic, linguistic and cultural elements have become flesh and blood, an integrated one with the amalgam effect of the centuries spent together. Of course, no one can claim the decades of “nation-building” succeeded in full and all the differences have vanished, but particularly in central and western parts of Turkey, it is rather difficult to identify who is a Turk and who is a Kurd. In eastern and southeastern Anatolia, very much like the northern parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran, however, “assimilation” could not progress for various geographic, social and historical factors and what ought to have become the sub-identity remained as the first identity.
Is there any difference between the Kurd of Ankara and the Kurd of any small town in the eastern part of Euphrates in Syria? Apart from one being a Turkish citizen and the other a Syrian citizen, they are almost the same and proudly share the same ethnic and cultural background. Like ethnic Turkish or ethnic Arab groups living outside of Turkey, they are the relatives of this country that belongs to the Turks, Kurds and Arabs, as well as of course the Christian Greek, Armenian and Assyrian people. Losing this conviction would deprive Turkey of its rich cultural heritage and condemn it to a petty and desolate nation status.
Turkey has the largest number of Kurds. Their size or what percentage they constitute in the modern Turkish society are irrelevant, as Kurds are Turks and Turks are Kurds; we have become an integrated one. Some portions of the Kurdish population, particularly those in eastern and southeastern parts, have difficulties living like the first-class citizens of this country. The linguistic, cultural and, to some degree, the political problems the Kurdish people of this country are indeed a part of the overall democratization problem of Turkey which must be urgently addressed without compromising national and territorial integrity.
Americans, or Turkey’s Western allies, seeking a belt of independent Kurdish statelets along Turkey’s eastern and southeastern borders cannot conform to the notion of alliance or concept of building a common better and secure future. If a handful of people in northern Syria are to be used by the Americans to advance their and the Israeli campaign against Iran under the guise of fighting ISIL, and if such a formation might pose a threat for the national and territorial integrity of Turkey, should Turkey abide by the notion of alliance and turn the other cheek? What would the Americans, French, British or the Israelis do if they faced a similar threat?
Forging a united front to demand an improvement in the rights and liberties of Kurds (and Turks) is something very important and praiseworthy, but forming an alliance of evil against Turks is another thing.