Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Hitler of the Middle East …

Aggression against Afrin shows that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the Hitler of the Middle East

The saying that “the Kurds have no friends but the mountains” is based on the bitter experience of almost 100 years of oppression.

In the aftermath of World War I, the Kurds found themselves without a state, without even autonomy, and were deprived of the linguistic and cultural rights they were promised by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Since then, the Turkish state’s oppression has never ceased. The latest manifestation of this criminal oppression is the invasion of the mainly Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s armed forces and their Islamist allies. We cannot once again let the Kurds down and allow this brazen aggression to continue.

Erdoğan is an out-of-control despot in charge of what has become a rogue state. Although some commentators talk coyly of his “authoritarian tendencies”, Erdoğan is properly described as a fascist dictator.

He has used the failed coup by disgruntled military officers in July 2016 as a pretext to eliminate almost all traces of democratic opposition within Turkey. Tens of thousands of opponents with no connection whatsoever to the coup have been imprisoned, and many subjected to ill-treatment and torture. There are periodic waves of show trials. The education system has been purged, with anyone suspected of opposition sacked and replaced with pliant Islamists. Turkey no longer has anything resembling a free press, and is now ranked at 155 on the international index of press freedom. According to Reporters Without Borders,

The authorities have used their fight against “terrorism” as grounds for an unprecedented purge. A state of emergency has allowed them to eliminate dozens of media outlets at the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulation publications. Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned without trial, turning Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for media personnel. Those still free are exposed to other forms of arbitrary treatment including waves of trials.

Although Turkish democrats, independent reporters, academics, socialists, feminists, and other secular opponents of the regime have been targeted, the country’s large and unassimilable Kurdish minority has been singled out for particularly brutal repression. The leaders of the pro-Kurdish leftist HDP party have been arrested for allegedly supporting “terrorism”. Kurdish cities have been put under curfew and bombarded by Erdoğan’s security forces.

The failed coup has allowed Erdoğan to label anyone who speaks out against him as a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism: it was Erdoğan’s Reichstag Fire, and the historical parallels with fascism do not stop there. The Kurds are to Erdoğan what the Jews were to the Nazis. Erdoğan, like every Turkish ruler since Kemal Atatürk, is a Kurdophobe determined to create an ethnically-homogeneous Turkish state in denial of the cultural mosaic of the Middle East of which Turkey is a part.

The Kurds have suffered physical and cultural genocide at the hands of every Turkish regime since Kemal Atatürk. They were forbidden to speak their language. Children could not be given Kurdish names.

Kurdish customs and ceremonies were banned. In official parlance, they were “Mountain Turks” and not a separate people. When they revolted, their uprisings were drowned in blood. As an Islamist dictator, President Erdoğan abhors the Kurds for their secularism and their commitment to women’s rights, multiculturalism, and grassroots democracy. And for their dogged determination to be nothing less than Kurds. The same repressive pattern has been repeated to a greater or lesser extent in all of the other Middle Eastern states where the Kurds are found. This is exemplified by the official designation of Syria as an “Arab Republic”, despite the existence of large minorities of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Yazidi Kurds and so on.

If Erdoğan had his Reichstag Fire event in 2016, his justification for the current invasion of Afrin in northern Syria is eerily reminiscent of the excuses used by the Nazis to justify their invasion of Poland in 1939. For instance, the Nazis staged a raid on a German radio station near the border, dressing concentration camp inmates in Polish uniforms and shooting them in the face to prevent identification. In a similar vein, Erdoğan claims that the invasion of Afrin was staged not just against the Kurdish YPG fighters, but also against Islamic State!

This claim beggars belief.

The Syrian Kurds have proved to be the most consistent and effective foes of ISIS. ISIS, as is well-known, swept across Iraq and Syria like a bloody plague. They were first defeated by the Kurds at Kobane on the border with Turkey, and then put to flight by the men and women fighters of the YPG and YPJ. Last year, Kurdish-led forces liberated Raqqa, the “capital” of the so-called Islamic State and ended a nightmare. It was also the YPG and the PKK that rescued tens of thousands of Yazidis from genocide and slavery at the hands of ISIS.

The Turkish government, which laughably claims to have invaded Afrin to flush out ISIS forces in the Orwellian-sounding “Operation Olive Branch”, has long been in cahoots with those self-same terrorists. They provided ISIS fighters with hospital facilities, allowed them to recruit and ferry terrorists on Turkish soil, and clandestinely supplied the black-clad thugs with weapons and intelligence. At the same time, they denied reinforcements and weapons to the Kurdish defenders at Kobane and indeed barracked for an ISIS victory. Turkish journalists who blew the whistle on their government’s complicity suffered harsh reprisals. There is no doubt whatsoever that Erdoğan wants the Islamists to win in Syria. Indeed his invading forces in Afrin are backed by Islamist gangs, which include Al-Nusra, the former Syrian arm of Al-Qaida, the organization responsible for 9/11 and numerous other atrocities. Witnesses have heard these types boast that they will kill all the Kurds in Afrin.

Erdoğan has also invaded to divert the Turkish public’s attention from renewed evidence of gross corruption on his part and on those of his family and his cronies in his so-called Justice and Development Party. By any standards, Erdoğan is a rich man. His personal fortune, which has been estimated at over US$200 million, cannot possibly have been made by honest means. His son Bilal has become a byword for corruption and made a personal fortune selling and transporting oil for ISIS on the international black market.

Late last year, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavušğlu, rightly condemned the Trump administration’s decision to relocate its Israel embassy to Jerusalem in the face of the world’s outrage. Çavušğlu declared that: “The world has changed. The belief that ‘I am strong therefore I am right’ has changed. The world today is revolting against injustices”. Sadly, none of the world’s so-called leaders have thrown his words back in his face, and pointed out the monstrous injustice of what his government is doing to the Kurds. For his part, Çavušğlu has threatened to treat France as an accomplice of terrorism if it brings the Afrin invasion to the attention of the UN Security Council.

As usual, the world prefers to look the other way. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrung his hands and asked both sides in the Afrin invasion to “exercise restraint”, in much the same way that Neville Chamberlain dithered when Adolf Hitler was monstering the peoples of Central Europe. There is no equivalence as Tillerson implies: perhaps he would offer the same advice to the victims of rapings and muggings in an American street? Boris Johnson, the British foreign minister, confirmed the Kurds’ belief that their only friends are the mountains when he conceded that while the YPG had played an important part in crushing ISIS, Erdoğan had a right to secure his frontiers! No doubt in the back of the ineffable Johnson’s mind was the lucrative contract he recently secured to supply British-made fighter bombers to Erdoğan’s air force. As for Australia’s prime minister, foreign minister, and minister of defence, they resemble nothing so much as the three wise monkeys: they see, speak, and hear no evil about Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Indeed, the Australian government continues to classify the Kurdish guerrillas of the PKK as a terrorist organisation—a label applied at Erdoğan’s request—despite the fact that they have never posed a threat to this country.

Turkey, on the other hand, has proven itself to be a terrorist state. With his neo-Ottoman designs on Turkish hegemony over the Middle East, President Erdoğan is a menace to any attempt to broker a lasting peace in the region. While we should not make any excuses for the Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad, the Islamist thugs Erdoğan promotes are equally vile. Short of massacring every last Kurdish man, woman and child, he will never succeed in his vision of an ethnically-pure Turkish state in a Turkish-dominated region. He has also crushed any semblance of democracy in his own country. If the Turnbull government had even one ounce of courage and compassion, it would move to condemn the aggression against Afrin in the United Nations, call for the immediate and complete withdrawal of Turkish forces and their proxies, and support sanctions against them if they refused to comply. Appeasing Erdoğan will only encourage him to commit further outrages, and the Middle East cannot begin to grope towards peace until he is treated as a moral pariah. If, as is probably the case, the world’s government’s choose to ignore his outrages, perhaps we might start to think of a people’s boycott of Turkey in the same way that we sent the apartheid regime in South Africa to Coventry—don’t holiday there, refuse to buy their goods, and refrain from all academic and cultural contact.

Erdoğan has shown in word and deed that he is the Hitler of the Middle East; that he is the enemy of democracy; a racist, a chauvinist, an obscurantist, and a war-monger who is deeply personally corrupt.

The Kurds, on the other hand, have shown themselves to be a beacon of hope in that blighted region. Their blueprint for a multicultural society, with grassroots democracy and respect for women is a model that could enable peace and progress in Syria and elsewhere in that diverse region. Let’s not let them down again.

*Professor John Tully is Honorary Professor/Educator PhD, College of Arts, Victoria University, Melbourne. He lives in Bronte Park. His recent publications include: The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber (2011); Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike (2014); Robbed of Every Blessing (2015); Crooked Deals and Broken Treaties: How American Indians Were Displaced by White Settlers in the Cuyahoga Valley (2015).

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Russell

    February 11, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    “The authorities have used their fight against “terrorism” as grounds for an unprecedented purge.”

    Sounds like the USA alliance, Russia, Indonesia, Myanmar and a few others invading other countries and committing crimes against humanity under the pretence of ‘fighting against terrorism’ to me.

  2. Tony Stone

    February 10, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    This article is typical of those written by ideological elitists, biased and not a reflection of the truth in any way.

    ErdoÄŸan is no different to the jews, Putin, Assad, Turnbull, the yanks, poms or any other individual, organisation or nation involved in the destruction of the middle east.

    The true representation of fascism is the belief in god. In the middle east, the never ending vile abuse, invasion, slaughter and lies, is the fault of the jews, closely followed by christian countries and no one else.

    The facts are, if the deranged christian world had not allowed the zionists to invade and wipe out everyone in their way. Which continues today as the jews illegally expand and genocidally rid the region of muslims and all others. There would be none of the current problems in the middle east.

    The real representation of Hitler is the jews. Muslims didn’t genocidally invade any countries. But the jews did, and are acting no different to the nazis.

    Conveniently, ideological elitists always deny the facts and in their desperation to support their unsupportable stance they have to lie and try to deceive to make their ludicrous claims seem rational.

    The only answer to this typical and historically never ending religious approach to life is the removal of all religious believers from the planet. Then peace will have a chance, but as long as there is religion, only war and destruction can occur.

  3. Ammer Sabir

    February 7, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Dear Professor John Tully,
    Thank you very much for you great article “Hitler of the Middle East”
    Erdogan and his brutal fascist Islamic regime in Turkey is truly a current Hitler of the middle east.

  4. Lynne Newington

    February 6, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    I wonder what the response would be if his name was Robert Mugabe – still well and kicking with his crimes against humanity and corruption…..
    If the Turkish community had bishops calling for forgiving shortcomings then maybe the western world would think differently……

  5. A citizen

    February 6, 2018 at 12:27 am

    So if Erdogan is Hitler, then what is the western world with their yankee wars without any reason in Afghanistan and Iraq?

  6. Eziz Bawermend

    February 5, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Well…. Prof Tully and Tasmanian Times, among other Australians, are disproving the saying that “The Kurds have no friends …..”. Would a paper like the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian or the Independent print this article? Not likely!

    The Kurds are not entirely blameless. They remain disunited with intense hostility towards each other and as long as they remain so they will have only few friends.

    Comparing Hitler’s treatment of the Jews with Erdogan’s treatment of the Kurds is not warranted and can only antagonise the powerful Jews and even more powerful Jewish lobbies. Moreover, Erdogan has excellent relations with the “good” Kurds and calls them “our brothers”.

    Here is a poem and a link to a sketch by our own very funny and affable rogue, ABC TV’s Charlie Pickering about Erdogan: https://vimeo.com/219269284

    There once was a Turk named Erdoǧan
    A bad guy if I ever heard o’one
    His skin ain’t so thick
    And he is kind of a prick
    But a leader? He ain’t even a third o’ one

  7. Antonios Symeonakis

    February 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

    One of the best articles I have read about in my life about Turkey and Kurds – and I read plenty relevant articles . BRAVO!

  8. Baran

    February 5, 2018 at 1:23 am

    The obviously well-meaning good professor’s excellent exposé is marred by his wild claim that “The Kurds are to ErdoÄŸan what the Jews were to the Nazis.”

    As a Kurd, I must say such exaggerations can neither win Kurds friends nor buy them influence. There is simply no evidence that Erdogan rounds up Kurdish men, women and children and kills them à la NAZIs.

    Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag is a Kurd – a sold out one, yes – but a Kurd, nevertheless as is the former Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek. And quite literally over a million Kurds vote for him in every election. Erdogan also has very good relations with the Kurds of Iraqi Kurdistan and welcomes their leader to his palace as a head of state.

    It is important to understand that Turkish nationalism was invented to emulate a violent religion. Turks, Kurds, Arabs etc in Turkey who say “I am proud to be a Turk, I accept and will not question the official state ideology and official interpretation of events” are deemed to be and treated as good and patriotic Turks! Others are viewed as apostates and infidels to be jailed or killed. Just like, throughout the Middle Ages, anyone who accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour and accepted the Clergy’s interpretation of the world was deemed to be good Christen and destined for heaven. Others were either heathens or heretics to be burned at the stake.

    There can be no doubt that Erdogan is guilty of a lot of things including, very likely, crimes against humanity for all the reasons that Prof Tully has mentioned, but Hitler he ain’t! And claiming he is does not help the Kurds.

  9. John Wade

    February 4, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    What is a Hitler?

    Compare the essences, the inner psychosis of this person with any of the powerful rulers of the world today and yesterday and they all portray a lesser ability to convince and connive people to accept their dogma but essentially they all all of the same power hungry autocratic greed factor driven by an overpowering instinct to rule.

    And this is what I guard myself against when voting, when voting any person of any stripe. Their is a tendency among humans to delve into the chasm of the mind and chase the god of their dream, the almighty, the all powerful.
    Even the candidature of independents are built of the same diagnostics as any other human who reaches for grandiosity.

    Look at Trump and his slide into Autocracy driven by Plutocrats that make him think he is important and look at who is pulling his strings. The very same breed who has been at the forefront of greed since the birth of capitalism.

    Turnbull is of the elite, the entitled and the more shit that gets pumped into his head by his puppeteers the more the foul air comes out of his mouth. He is no different to what the hitlers are born with. The overpowering stench of greed and self absorption.

    So, what is Hitler? What is a Hitler?

  10. Mike Frost

    February 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Professor Tully shines a highly informed light on the plight of a people, the Kurds, who remain largely neglected in Australia and elsewhere. Yet they have been at the forefront of the challenge to ISIS as Tully points out. The fact that the Turkish president has taken it upon himself to attack the Kurds at this time is beyond comprehension. As Professor Tully presents it, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Erdogan is indeed no better than Hitler. The Australian Government needs to be a global leader in taking the case of the Kurds up in a direct challenge to the Erdogan dictatorship.

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