By Mümtazer Türköne
December 29, 2014
The bloody clashes between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Kobane (Ayn al-Arab) have exposed an odd situation to daylight. In Kobane, Kurds were fighting Kurds.
More than half of the ISIL forces -- 80 percent according to one claim -- were Kurds. One thing was certain: Their commander was a Kurd. According to an outsider perspective, this conflict can be seen as a confrontation between an ethnic political movement and a religiously motivated one, and the supranational organization of ISIL may be stressed. The truth is much simpler. The PKK's hegemony over society does not leave any room to diversity. Therefore, in an effort to escape the PKK pressure, people take refuge in the opposite camp.
Recent bloody clashes in Cizre between the PKK and Hüda-Par, a Kurdish Sunni party which is also known as the Turkish Hizbullah but has no affiliation with the Lebanese Hezbollah, are the result of the PKK's ideological cleansing efforts. The term "ideological genocide" --similar to ethnic cleansing or ethnic genocide -- fits perfectly the description of the PKK's attitude against other Kurds. Being a Kurd is not enough to acquire the right to live in a PKK-dominated land; you have to support the PKK and be part of the PKK's organizational network as well. Thus, you have to vote for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), pay taxes to the PKK and be enlisted in the PKK's guerrilla camps.
The Settlement Process prevents the public authorities from taking action against these de facto pressures and threats from the PKK. As a result, two alternatives emerge for the Kurds who refuse to join the ranks of the PKK in the PKK-dominated regions. The first is to escape and move to the West. The second alternative is to take shelter in the organizational umbrella of Hüda-Par, which is positioned at the opposite of the PKK. The growing conflict between Hüda-Par and the PKK is a sign of increased pressures in this regard.
Hüda-Par is an Islamist party, and is not as radical as ISIL or al-Qaeda. Currently, it renounces violent methods. But if the PKK pressure increases and the public authorities fail to help them, they may resort to the use of arms. This will in turn contribute to their ideological radicalization.
Like all other radical ideologies, Islamism is the product of sociological conditions. Historically, Kurds and Arabs used to organize in hierarchic clan structures. Today, they have reproduced these traditional structures within the political organizations of modern times. In an atmosphere of permanent conflict, if you don't have a clan you take refuge in a clan-like organization. A similar organization is being created based on ideology.
In Rojava, the predominantly Kurdish region of Syria, the PKK completed this ideological genocide over the last three years. Non-PKK Kurds were banished from the region and replaced with pro-PKK Kurds from Turkey. The Kurds who were dispossessed and displaced from their home returned within the ranks of ISIL and attacked the PKK with a terrible rage. Isn't this most natural and to be expected?
The PKK's ideology is a secular and Stalinist one, heritage left over from the Cold War era. Religious Kurds can hardly fit into this ideology. Today, the PKK's main support comes not from its Marxist ideology but from Kurdish nationalism. However, it imposes its organizational ideology during its ideological cleansing. This leaves no room for those who do not adopt the organization's ideology.
Kurds are considerably uneasy with it. They express their discontent by getting organized around Hüda-Par. The PKK pressure leads to a rise in Kurdish Islamism.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's emphasis on the "public order" draws attention to the PKK's ethnic cleansing. However, this is not seen as an obstacle to the PKK in the ongoing talks between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
The real paradox is: The PKK's ideological hegemony serves only to promote Islamism.