The Columbus Free Press

"Moral Crusade" leaves out The Kurds

by Per Fagereng, News International Press Service, Jul 2, 1999

Last week Bill Clinton spoke to US troops in Macedonia and said there could be more military actions in Europe and Africa. Said Bill, "We will not allow, only because of differences in ethnic background or religion or racism, people to be attacked. We will stop that."

It's interesting that he didn't mention a humanitarian jihad in Asia. Maybe he didn't want to anger China, which could fight back. Or maybe he didn't want to offend Turkey.

Said Bill to the troops, "No one ever should be punished and discriminated against or killed or uprooted because of their religion or ethnic heritage."

But that's been happening to the Kurds for most of this century. What Turkey is doing to the Kurds is little different from what Serbs did to Albanian Kosovars, except Turkey has been doing it longer and to more people.

Kurds, like the Kosovars, are being jailed, tortured and killed, and driven out of their homes. Turkey, like Yugoslavia, claims it's defending its national sovereignty. Kurds, like the Kosovars, are fighting back. The Kurdish Workers Party, like the KLA, has been called terrorist by the oppressor, and also by the US.

The big difference is that Turkey is our NATO ally and is killing Kurds with weapons from America. In other words, your taxes are paying for this. Money that could go for schools is going for murder. So where are the liberals and the googoos? Googoos are a slang term for those good government folks who want more money for nice things.

What's happening at home is that bad government, the war machine, is starving good government. But you hear nary a peep or a squeak from the googoos. They just want us taxpayers to dig a little deeper. We went through the same thing during the Vietnam war.

Now things may be coming to a head. Kurdish freedom fighter Abdullah Ocalan has been condemned to hang by a Turkish military court. The sentence will be appealed, which could take a while, and then it's up to parliament. If Ocalan is hanged, Kurds vow to strike back not only in Turkey but at Turkish targets throughout Europe.

So now Europeans are putting pressure on Turkey to give Ocalan prison instead. Turkey wants to join the European Union, which has a ban on capital punishment. Europeans also rightly question Ocalan's trial, but the big reason, I think, is a fear of violence. Interestingly, the US has not joined this criticism.

Right now my guess is that Ocalan will die. Turkey's prime minister is Bulent Ecevit, a supposed leftist, but he's in league with nationalists in parliament. And behind the scenes, it's the army that gives the orders, throwing out elected leaders it doesn't like.

Turkey is a fake democracy, and a counterfeit nation, but it's valuable to the oil companies who are salivating over oil in the Caspian Sea. Much of that oil is controlled by allies of Turkey. Standing in the way of Turkish hegemony is Kurdistan and Armenia, whose people were massacred by Turks eighty years ago.

A major factor in control of oil is the pipelines used to transport it. And just the other day, the US reassured Turkey about the planned pipeline going from Baku, Azerbaijan to Ceyhan, Turkey. There is also a Balkan line in the works, which may have a lot to do with the dismemberment and wars in Yugoslavia. But the US has told Turkey that the Balkan pipeline is only secondary. The costs of the Baku-Ceyhan line have gone from $2.5 billion to $4 billion but what's a few billion when it comes to controlling a resource?

Almost eighty years ago the Kurds were promised their freedom after World War One. It was a time when the big powers were beginning to realize the value of oil in the Middle East and Turkey's role in controlling that oil. So the Kurds were sacrificed then, as they are now. And that's why NATO's moral crusade doesn't include the Kurds.

Meanwhile another development is taking place that may challenge NATO's plans. On July 12, according to the Stratfor intelligence service, Greece and Iran will sign a three-way military and security agreement with Armenia. Since Greece and Turkey are both members of NATO, this may cause some friction in the well-oiled war machine. It would also help isolate Turkey's allies Azerbaijan and Georgia, and give Russia a boost in the region.

Stratfor calls this "a slap in the face of NATO," which some folks may think is long overdue. But it highlights the ruthless game going on in the Caspian. Ten years ago we took to the streets and shouted, "No war for oil." We may be doing it again in the near future, no matter who is president.

Per Fagereng is a writer, artist, commentator and activist. He is a senior editor at the Portland Free Press, does radio commentaries and runs the Phantom Gallery in Portland, Oregon.

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