By Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Tuesday, Dec 22, 2015 (updated)
A delegation of the left-wing and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey has arrived in Moscow for a five-day visit. The purpose of the visit, according to HDP co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtash, is to improve political relations between progressive forces in Turkey and the Russian government and civil society. These relations have been severely damaged by the Turkish government’s recent actions, including the shooting down of a Russian warplane over Syria by Turkey on November 24.
Dermitash is heading the HDP delegation visit to Moscow. He is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and he says his party will open an office in the city. (Dermitash and Lavrov met on Dec 23, report here.) He says an office in Moscow will assist Turks living in Russia or traveling to the country and will improve communications with the Russian people and government.
Read new report: Mounting security operation deaths in Turkey, report by Human Rights Watch, published on Dec. 22, 2015
‘Kurdish civilians, including women, children and elderly residents, have been killed during security operations and armed clashes since July 2015 in southeastern Turkey. Local human rights groups have recorded well over 100 civilian deaths and multiple injuries…’
The visit of the HDP delegation is a bold and defiant challenge to the Turkish government, not only due to the very high tensions and conflict occurring between Russia and Turkey but also due to the civil war footing of the Turkish government and military in the Kurdish regions in the east of the country. More than one hundred people have been killed in eastern Turkey this month after the government declared curfews, established roadblocks and begun attacking cities and towns in eastern Turkey.
Antiwar protests are rocking Turkish cities. Police are violently attacking the protests.
Kurdish people comprise some 20 per cent of the population of Turkey. In modern times, their language and very recognition as a people was outlawed until 1991.
The Russian daily Kommersant reports that the HDP-led delegation includes Salih Muslim, co-chairperson of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Kurdish Syria (Rojava). PYD-led forces have dealt significant military setbacks this year to Daesh (‘ISIS’) in northern Syria. Kurdish forces in Syria now govern autonomous regions along the Syria-Turkey border. They do so in cooperation with the Syrian government, though relations between the two have been bad and fractured until recent events.
Full coverage of the HDP delegation visit to Moscow is published on New Cold War.org, including this news article in the Russia press by Andre Ivanov of Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press): Turkey descends into civil war as left-wing Turkish leaders arrive in Moscow. Included in his report is an interview with a Kurdish activist in Moscow who explains that the Kurdish people’s hopes for peace and a homeland have been lifted by the Russian military and diplomatic offensive in Syria against Daesh (‘ISIS’) and other right-wing extremists in the Middle East.
Also on New Cold War.org are selections of recent articles revealing the history of tolerance and outright collaboration of Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, and the United States with right-wing extremists in the Middle East, including Daesh. This includes an article by Seymour Hersh appearing in the London Review of Books on December 21: Military to military: U.S. intelligence sharing in the Syrian war, and an article by Behlül Özkan, assistant professor at Marmara University in Turkey, appearing in Politico.eu: Untangling Turkey’s Middle East allegiances.
The HDP is the third largest party in the Turkish Parliament, holding 59 seats in the 550-seat body. The ruling AKP party of President Erdogan has 317 seats. After winning only a minority government last June 7, the AKP government convened a snap election for November 1 and won its majority.
The HDP and its activists have suffered a string of terrorist bombing attacks this year. A deadly blow was delivered to the HDP’s election campaign on October 10 when two suicide bombers attacked an antiwar rally in Ankara supported by the party, killing some 100 people and wounding hundreds more.
As the HDP delegation visits Moscow, Canada’s new defense minister, Harjip Sajjan, has been visiting countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Iraq, to develop a plan for Canada to become more deeply involved in the U.S.-led bombing and military intervention in Syria and northern Iraq. (A Kurdish news video of his visit to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq is here.) During the election campaign leading to the October 19 national election in Canada, Sajjan’s Liberal Party committed to withdraw Canada’s fighter jets from bombing in Syria. But no date has been set for such a withdrawal.
Contrary to the electoral impression it projected, the new Liberal government is now promising to increase its military intervention in northern Iraq. It is doing so under the guise of “training” of local allied forces. It says that would be a better use of its military forces than continuing with the deployment of its CF-18 fighter jets. The new government is caught in an election promise that is important for it to keep. But the ruse nonetheless has the CF-18s leaving no time soon.
English language news sources from Turkey:
Facebook page of Chris Stephenson, (UK citizen resident in Turkey)