Van Bommel: Turkey must open dialogue with Kurds

24 October 2011

Van Bommel: Turkey must open dialogue with Kurds

In the view of SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel, Turkey must immediately withdraw its invasion force from Iraq and open a serious dialogue with the Kurdish people. The MP raised these points in parliamentary questions to Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal on the subject of Turkey’s invasion of northern Iraq, a military action involving ten thousand ground troops and a sizable force of aircraft and helicopters. Van Bommel is seeking to exert pressure for a political agreement with the Kurds aimed at putting an end to the Kurdish community’s exclusion. ‘For years I have been demanding the release of elected Kurdish mayors and councillors. Instead, yet another cross-border war is being waged.’

Harry van Bommel“If I’m counting correctly, this is the twenty-seventh cross-border action since the mid-1980s,” says Van Bommel, “and there is little reason to assume that this one will turn out any different to the twenty-six incursions which have gone before. Dead Turkish soldiers, dead Kurdish fighters and dead civilians, hit by accident. No destruction of the guerrilla force and no democratisation of Turkish-Kurdish society. And in contrast, hard-won progress destroyed.”

The Kurdish regional government in Iraq does not have the strength to resist Turkey, while it is also unhappy with the fact that the PKK conducts military operations from its territory. Renewed military attacks on Iraq from across the border are causing Van Bommel to be concerned about regional stability. Turkey is keen to cooperate with Iran, which is also looking to settle accounts with the Iranian-Kurdish guerrilla groups operating from northern Iraq. The different countries in the Middle East with Kurdish population groups confer with each other over the best means of combatting the Kurdish opposition, without any consultation with the Kurds themselves regarding their legitimate demands. “If this is unacceptable in the Syria of Assad, and was unacceptable in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, then it is of course unacceptable in Iran and Turkey. The Dutch government must put pressure on its partner in NATO, Turkey, to free Kurdish political prisoners and put an end to this war. A durable peace in Turkey and the Middle East can only be arrived at via the negotiating table.”

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