The ISIS problem cannot be solved by arming the PKK

The ISIS menace has been spreading beyond the borders of Middle East.  Both the EU countries and the US are rightly alarmed by the situation.  We are all watching the discussions about combating the radical group very closely and I have to remind my readers that the popular notion “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” is the most unsound method ever offered.

With its fanatical interpretation of Islam, military victories, terrible methods of executions and mass murders, ISIS has understandably been the center of attention lately.  Trying to come up with a solution, which will not put the lives of their citizens in danger, some countries in the EU and the US have started discussing arming the militia of the PKK, designated by Turkey and the US as a terrorist organization.  As the trend of trying to whitewash the PKK ideology and its current situation continues in the Western media, many Middle Eastern pundits are also being lured into the populist tide.  Turkey on the other hand, has been remarkably quiet about this situation despite the obvious unrest among the citizens of Turkey.  While our diplomats are choosing the way of patience, I want to speak out about the frustrations of Turkey and the reality of the PKK.

The tide that changed the perception of the PKK has been the rescue operation of Yazidis from Mount Sinjar in Iraq.  The US military carried out a bombardment to clear the necessary area from ISIS fighters and the Peshmerga, joined by YPG and PKK forces, saved the Yazidi community through a safe corridor.  I believe it wasn’t because the ‘heart warming and humanitarian’ PKK militias were so concerned with the safety of Yazidis; it was because it would be perfect PR for the organization.

What is the PKK Really?
Founded by Abdullah Öcalan in 1978, the PKK is a Marxist-Leninist communist organization.  Like all the examples of its ilk, the PKK has been a violent and bloody terror group.  This factor is not subject to change (like many claim to have been) because the very bedrock of the communist guerrilla struggle lies in inflicting terror and shedding blood.  Abdulah Öcalan stated very clearly in his book that the PKK would never leave Leninist ideals behind: “The PKK developed in line with Marxist-Leninist tradition.  After this it will obviously be shaped on this inheritance, inseparable as are flesh and bone.”  (Popular Heroism in Kurdistan, p. 78)

Lenin had explained the nature of his communist revolution; “In principle we have never rejected, and cannot reject, terror.”  (Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961, Moscow, Volume 5, pages 13-24.)

We can only predict the future by looking at our past and the course of history also showed us that terror has always been at the core of communist ideology.  This was the very reason the US took part in the Cold War; this was the reason many American lives were lost in Vietnam only to be disappointed by defeat both militarily and ideologically.  Before I go on to explain the current status of the PKK, I want to remind my readers that even if the US had won the Vietnam War militarily, it would make no difference in terms of restricting the spread of the communist ideology.  Ideologies cannot be defeated within the borders of a South Asian coastline or a Middle Eastern desert.

Here Comes the Deception
Realizing the threat of losing the battle in the field of popular media, the PKK decided to change its narrative and started to claim they are a bunch of “communal liberalist” fellows who are simply fighting for an independent Kurdistan.  First of all, the expression “communal liberalist” is an oxymoron because being a liberalist means supporting individual freedoms no matter how stark in contrast it is with the prevailing public opinion (as long as they do not limit the freedoms of others) and the word “communal” totally refutes this notion since it favors the well-being of the community at the expense of the individuals.  Therefore communal ideologies do not maintain human or minority rights even if they promise as such: Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Lenin, Enver Hoxha, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il all promised their nations a free and equal world where all citizens are treated with dignity.  For this reason, the PKK would never deliver on its promise of a liberal Kurdistan; the moment its borders are secured, the regime will show its true colors and its first target will be the innocent Kurds of the region who oppose communist ideals.

A Marxist regime in establishment – a communist Kurdistan – will not be an ally for the Western powers since these powers will always be regarded as doomed in ideological terms.  After the needed weapons are provided and a communist state is established, a communist Kurdistan under the PKK will assuredly be hostile to the US and quite contrary to popular expectation, it will be a threat to Israel in the region.

The foundation of Israel is religion and communism doesn’t recognize any morality or religion.  What is happening now with the narrative of freedom for minorities and equality for women are only deceptive tactics communism uses for propaganda, experienced before the establishment of almost all communist regimes.  Arming and politically backing the PKK will only bring a new miniature Soviet Russia to the Middle East.

If Not by Arming the PKK, How Can We Tackle the ISIS Menace?
This is a very serious issue I want to explain in depth next week.  The establishment of a communist state will only fuel the fire of radicalism by creating more grievances by feeding the “war against Islam” narrative.  For some reason, some policy makers seem to have forgotten how arming a terrorist group has never ended well in history.  When the US armed the Taliban, this adventure ended with America being the archenemy of the Taliban and transferring weapons to al-Qaeda; the same al-Qaeda that I believe was used by NATO to topple Qaddafi in Libya.  Needless to say, after seven months of military operations in Libya and hundreds of millions of dollars to reconstruct it afterwards, the Libyan military only needed half a day to stage another coup. The ties of US intelligence agencies with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq and PJAK did not contribute to anything positive for either NATO or US causes in the Middle East.  When there is a reason for an organization to be listed among terrorist groups, the same criteria will remain despite the creation of a common enemy.

Neither these communist guerrilla groups nor radical dictatorships can be stopped by proxy armies made up of terrorist groups or bombing the area.  The power of these malignant forces come from their ideologies and their power to recruit new people from any part of the world.  Therefore a new ideology needs to be instilled in the minds of people and the narratives of these groups must be tackled by ‘counter ideas’, not counter insurgencies.  A very strict educational program is needed to change societies.


Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on September 13, 2014, on Ceylan Özbudak, website featuring writing and commentary by Turkish journalist and author, Ceylan Özbudak.  It was reproduced here with the consent of Ms. Özbudak.


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