Chris Den Hond and Mireille Court managed to interview Zagros Hiwa. Zagros Hiwa is a member of the KCK, the Union of Communities of Kurdistan, of which the main Kurdish guerrilla group, the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK, is part of.
Please find below the interview published via the platform Rojinfo.com on 4 December 2020
- What is going on in the north-east of Iraq, where the PKK guerrilla is like at home for more than 30 years?
In North-east Iraq, in what the Kurds call South Kurdistan, the Turkish army has made incursions into the territory and plans to occupy what it regards as the Ottoman-era Mosul Province. This comes as part of the Turkish state’s expansionist Neo-Ottoman ambitions and policies in MENA and the Caucasus. Turkey’s invasion in South Kurdistan is not new. It has been pursuing such a policy since 1983, and has made 33 full-scale operations in South Kurdistan since then. The KDP has been cooperating, at different levels, with the Turkish state in some these operations. Now the Turkish state wants to use the KDP as its own proxy in the war against the Kurdistan Freedom Movement. Under the auspices of Erdogan and the Turkish state, they carry out provocative incursions into the guerrilla areas. The aim is clear: to claim that the guerrilla has attacked Peshmerga and to start new tensions, of which the only loser will be the Kurds and the only winner Erdogan.
- What are the actual threats? What is Turkey doing? What is the actual threat of the drones? How do you resist to this new kind of war fare?
The actual threat is that such a war will undo all the Kurdish gains in South Kurdistan and pave the way for a genocidal campaign and ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, the way the Turkish state did in Afrin, Serekani and Gire Spi (Tel Abyad). Erdogan is trying to use the Kurds against Kurds. Turkey has been using drones against the guerrilla forces from 2007 on. It is not something new to the guerrilla. The drones have undoubtedly had effects on the daily life of the guerrillas. You cannot deny this. But, during all these 13 years, the guerrilla forces have developed their own measures to reduce the effects of the drones in combat. The guerrilla does not act like a conventional army. It has more flexibility in adapting itself to new military conditions. That’s why despite 7/24 drone activity over our areas, the guerrilla forces are pursuing their own struggle and dealing heavy blows to the Turkish army. This shows that, if organized, the will power and capabilities of the self can foil the technological advantages of an army.
- Only drones cannot win a war. So, Turkey needs ground troops. Do they use the PDK of Barzani for that?
The Turkish state has been attempting to address the Kurdish question by denying it and associating the Kurdish struggle for freedom and democracy with terror, separatism, and so on, thus legitimizing military means to curb the Kurdish resistance. This has been the legacy of Turkey in dealing with the Kurdish question for nearly 100 years, but it has not been able to suppress the struggle for freedom. Drones are just the last of such military technology used against the Kurds. The Turkish state has always used state-of-the-art conventional and unconventional military technology against the Kurds. They even used chemical weapons in Dersim in 1938. But the Kurdish question is still in place. The Kurdish question will be resolved only when it is addressed politically, socially, and culturally. Resorting to military means will only add more complexity to the issue. Such a huge social and political issue cannot be resolved through drones. Besides using drones, the Turkish military wants to use KDP forces as cannon fodders of its own army. From the vantage point of Turkish state’s mentality every Kurdish blood spilled is a gain, be it PKK or KDP; it doesn’t make any difference for Erdogan. The most important issue for Erdogan is getting Kurds killed and their gains undone. In this sense, the ruling elite of the KDP, is doing irreparable harm to the Kurdish cause. They neglect the fact that their own ancestors were hanged by the Turkish state, only to be reminded of the fact by Erdogan himself, on the eve of the independence referendum. Instead of encouraging and organizing the Kurdish people to resist invaders, they collaborate with the invaders against those who resist.
- How is the relationship between PKK and the PUK? Is that better than with the PDK?
Our main policy in intra-Kurdish relations is to establish national unity among all the Kurds. The Kurds have to merge their own political, self-defense, and social capabilities if they are to stand against the repression of the ruling states. We have, for many times, called on all the political parties in Kurdistan to come together and form unity among themselves. In 2013, based on the call of our Leader Abdullah Öcalan, all Kurdish parties came together and formed a committee to hold a national congress. Unfortunately, under the auspices of the Turkish state and Erdogan, some parties, sabotaged all these efforts and prevented the congress from being held. Despite that, we have been waging our struggle to build unity among the Kurds. In this sense, we want to have relations with all the political parties in Kurdistan, including the PUK and KDP. We want to see all Kurdish political forces stand by us in the struggle against the Turkish invasion and its genocidal crimes against the Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan. On the other hand, Turkey wants to blackmail all other Kurdish parties into collaboration against the Freedom Movement in North Kurdistan. The PUK has rejected that. This is an important stance for the PUK and, if continued, will – in the long-term – serve the interests of the Kurdish people.
- Some say the main danger in the Middle East today is the expansionist policy of Erdogan. He occupied Afrin and the area between Tal Abyad and Serekeniye. Now Erdogan wants two states in Cyprus. What is his plan for the north of Iraq?
Erdogan sees Northern Iraq, or South Kurdistan, as a part of Misaqi-Milli (the Ottoman-era National Pact). Back then, North of Iraq, used to be called Vilayeti Mosul (the Mosul Province) within the Ottoman Empire. Erdogan’s expansionist and irredentist policies envisage Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan) as the 82th Vilayet in his Neo-Ottoman vision of new Turkey. The Turkish state has already stationed troops in the various parts of the area, from Zakho in the far north to Bashiqa in the south. It wants to legitimize its annexation of the area under the pretext of fighting the PKK. Erdogan’s expansionist policies are not limited to North Iraq only. He wants to project Turkey’s influence and create proxies in all the areas once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, form North Africa to the Middle east and Caucuses. Erdogan is the rising Hitler of the Middle East. He has long honored and surpassed Saddam Husseyin.
- Is Bagdad intervening against the Turkish aggression? Why does Bagdad accept more than 60 Turkish military bases in the north of Iraq?
Any intervention of Bagdad against the Turkish invasion is discouraged by the US. The airspace in Iraq is controlled by the US-led coalition. They allow Turkey to bomb Iraqi soil and have given the green light to Turkey to invade Iraq. Turkey has also for years funded, trained and equipped Daesh which is carrying out actions in Iraq on almost a daily basis. It would not be wrong to think that Turkey is using its strong affiliation with Daesh to actively destabilize Iraq and South Kurdistan. It does not come as a surprise that a lot of Daesh attacks are actually taking place in the contested regions, e.g., Kirkuk. The US-led international system prates about stability in Iraq, but it is the main force which instigates instability in Iraq by allowing the Turkish invasion and intervention into Iraqi territory. There are many political and social forces in Iraq that are against the invasion of Arab and Kurdish land by Turkey and other regional countries. But they are not organized and strong enough to influence the mainstream politics in Iraq. Bagdad’s connivance at the Turkish invasion is the result of US pressure and influence. It is not an independent policy developed through the true representatives of the peoples of Iraq. We think that the biggest threat to stability in Iraq is the Turkish intervention. And our struggle against the Turkish invasion in Iraq and Kurdistan is in the long-term interest of all the religious and ethnic entities in Iraq. Our resistance against the expansionist army of Erdogan serves to protect not only the Kurds, but Arabs, Syriacs, Christians, Armenians, Turkmen, Yezidis, Shabaks, and all other entities in Iraq.
- How do you think the new USA presidency will influence the events in the Middle East?
The Trump presidency was the worst for the Kurds among all US administrations. Trump allowed Turkey to invade Rojava and South Kurdistan. He allowed Erdogan to invade areas of democratic governance model and replace them with jihadist law. He betrayed the people who had made the most sacrifice in the fight against ISIS. The Kurds will always remember Trump with this.
It seems that the new administration will not walk on the path of Trump administration. They have a far deeper understating of the conflicts in the Middle East. The new USA president has a legacy of developing relations with the Kurds. At least, he knows who Kurds are and will not criticize them for not fighting in Normandy! The new president is from the Democratic Party. It was under the Democratic Administration of Bill Clinton when the US handed over the Kurdish people’s leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan to Turkey, in 1999. Mr. Öcalan has been under heavy solitary confinement on the Island prison of Imrali for 23 consecutive years. We expect that he will honor Mr. Öcalan’s efforts for a democratic solution for the Kurdish question and play a positive role in ensuring the freedom of Mr. Öcalan, thus solving the Kurdish question in the Middle East.