Originally published: https://anfenglishmobile.com/features/karayilan-the-turkish-army-is-bogged-down-54314

Despite NATO support, the Turkish army is at an impasse in its invasion of southern Kurdistan. Murat Karayılan says the state will have no choice but to admit defeat: “The guerrillas are successful in all areas.”

According to Murat Karayılan of the PKK’s Executive Council, the Turkish army is completely bogged down in Southern Kurdistan. “For three and a half months, the enemy has not succeeded in advancing against us with the greatest use of technology and dirty war methods. This is not an ordinary situation. Despite a whole range of means provided by NATO to the Turkish state, the Turkish army is in a deadlock in the regions it has invaded with the aim of occupation. It is effectively defeated. The current situation of the Turkish state in Avaşîn, Metîna and Zap is more devastating than when it was defeated in Gare. The defeat there was openly and quickly conceded. So far, they have not wanted to admit to the disaster in the other areas. But they [the state] will have no choice but to admit defeat. Because the guerrillas are successful in all areas. The enemy cannot achieve results,” Murat Karayılan told ANF.

“The will of man can be more successful than technology”

Ankara launched the invasion with the intention that the guerrillas would not be able to withstand “ten days of war technology on this scale,” Karayılan continued. He noted that a few minor successes in some areas led to hasty or premature celebrations of victory among the Turkish army, which obviously had a counterproductive effect. “It is not an easy thing to wage war against us. It is a will that the Turkish army is facing. It is the will of the selfless force of the Kurdish people. Therefore, the army cannot just invade anywhere and occupy areas where it wants to. It is meaningless to rely on your war technology when you are facing the freedom guerrilla of Kurdistan and the strong will of the Kurdish people. We consider this success as an achievement of all peoples of Kurdistan. This struggle is not only fought by Kurds, many nations belong to it. Therefore, our resistance is also an internationalist struggle. Therefore, the success is not only for the Kurdish people, but for all the oppressed, exploited and persecuted who want peace and freedom. Our victory is the most impressive example that the will and power of man can be more effective than sophisticated technology.”

No complicity in the forest fires in Turkey

Turkey’s generally valid concept since the founding of the state has been to decimate the Kurdish society, Karayılan explained. “The offensive of Aug. 15, 1984, the date when the PKK started its armed struggle, made this strategy come to naught.” He said that after the Turkish state escalated the war against the Kurds again in 2015, Ankara – partly due to NATO support – began to hope to achieve success against the guerrillas by means of sophisticated war technology. “Armed to the teeth, they have been attacking unsuccessfully for six years. Their failure despite all the means at their disposal has now led to a return to the dirty methods of the 1990s. Back then people ‘disappeared’, today they are killed in public. The murder of Deniz Poyraz or the Konya massacre are recent examples. The perpetrators are not ordinary people, but have been explicitly trained by fascism. The Turkish state is now at the point of coping with its problems through such massacres. The aim is to create a climate of constant fear and threat among the population. Recently, anti-Kurdish lynching cases and attacks have taken place not only in Izmir and Konya, but also in many other places. These attacks are part of a chauvinist wave of attacks whose creators are Erdoğan and Bahçeli personally. The fact that we are being branded as responsible for the forest fires in western Turkey joins this chain of ongoing attacks. Neither as a movement nor as a people are we in any way complicit in the devastating firestorms. As for the fires in Kurdistan, we know that the Turkish state is the arsonist. It knows its guilt regarding our destroyed forests, which is why it is accusing us.”

The Turkish army hides losses

The Turkish army has been hiding its true losses in the fight against the PKK for years. Once again, the public is left in the dark about the full extent of the failure of the so-called “counterinsurgency”, whether in southern Kurdistan or in the north, said Karayılan. “In contrast, our losses are massively retouched and successful actions by our forces are hushed up by the media,” Karayılan highlighted, referring to a number of guerrilla attacks that ended in highly casualties for the Turkish army. “For example, there was the sabotage on a military outpost in Gever on July 27, in which six soldiers were killed. Or the July 30 action at the Amutka military barracks in Hozat, Dersim. Also in Hozat, soldiers from a covert unit were hit in the Çakmaklı outpost compound on August 5. All these actions resulted in a significant number of dead and wounded in the ranks of the Turkish army, who had to be evacuated from the combat areas by helicopter. But these deaths did not reach the media attention. The action on August 7 in Çatak, Van with ten dead soldiers was also not picked up by the Turkish media.”

The lies of the Interior Minister

Karayılan sees a “persistent and shameless lie” by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as the cause of this media ignorance of military casualties in guerrilla operations: “For four years, this minister has been claiming that the PKK has been wiped off the map in the north. So it is only natural that the heavy blows of the guerrillas in Northern Kurdistan are completely hidden. If the government were to admit its losses, voices from the population would inevitably be raised. People would demand accountability and want to know how losses could have occurred if the PKK had been destroyed as claimed. It has been said for years that there are only 200 people left in our ranks. When young people who want to join the guerrillas are a bit dilettantish and, through carelessness, are caught by the secret service before they reach our ranks, it is claimed that the state has successfully stopped connections to the PKK. Figures are then given for this. In summary, what I want to say is that they [the state] are shaping everything according to their own ideas and desires. Since they pull the reins on the media, only what they approve of is propagated. As a result, this situation is proof that the AKP/MHP regime is at the end of its existence. At the same time, the collapse of the colonial policy toward Kurdistan is also imminent.”

Not a single argument for invasion

“Is there any concrete basis or argument for the claim that the PKK is the cause of Turkey’s occupation attacks in Southern Kurdistan? Is there any evidence to support this? Apart from the Turkish state’s pronouncements, there is not a single argument for an invasion. In contrast, there is a multitude of arguments that prove the opposite of the Turkish state’s claims. For example, what is the concept behind uniting the alliance of AKP, MHP and Ergenekon with the Vatan Partisi [VP, Engl.: Fatherland Party] at the same table? If we look at the nature of this partnership, it becomes clear that it is not only about the PKK, but about the achievements of the entire Kurdish people. The most dangerous thing for them is the Kurdish people who demand freedom and status. Erdoğan, for example, had actually put it clearly with the sentence: ‘In the case of northern Iraq, we were silent at the time, now they [the Kurds] have a status there. In northern Syria, we will not make the same mistake.’ This is not new. After all, Erdoğan says this often.”

How Turkish nationalists interpret the Lausanne Treaty

Later in the interview, Karayılan recalled a recent statement made by Soylu in Şırnak, who stated that he was “hopeful” that he would soon be able to “walk to Syria or Iraq” from Turkish territory. This is not a marginal remark or a statement made inadvertently, Karayılan said: “It seems that he wants to keep this topic on the agenda. Because immediately after this statement, Soylu repeated his words in occupied Afrin.” In addition, there is the government’s ongoing discussion of the Treaty of Lausanne and propagation of revelations or experiences of sovereignty under international law for 2023 – a hundred years after the agreement that established Turkey’s national borders and led to the four-way division of Kurdistan. The fact that “nationalist, chauvinist forces” in particular have persisted in their interpretation that the Lausanne Treaty expires after a hundred years is also an indication that Turkish occupation is wanted to be extended to all of Kurdistan. The fact that Turkey continues to maintain the Bashiqa military base northeast of Mosul, which was raised in 2015 without authorization from Baghdad, should also be evaluated in the same context. Ankara makes no secret of its special interest in the city of over a million people, which was part of the Ottoman Empire until the founding of Iraq in 1920.

PKK biggest obstacle in neo-Ottoman expansionist aims

“You have to be politically blind to overlook these calculations,” Karayılan said. He added that the Turkish government is taking steps to realize its neo-Ottoman expansion goals and expand the state borders around the old Ottoman governorates. “The PKK has been identified as the biggest obstacle in front of these plans. Arguing to fight us, the Turkish state is successively occupying foreign territory. But if we did not exist, it would be easy for the Turkish state to construct another justification for their neo-Ottomanism. In the case of Cyprus, after all, it was fabricated pretexts for the invasion of the island, which could not be legitimized under international law. It was said that the Turkish Cypriots were being wronged. The same argument could soon apply to the Turkmen in Kirkuk. Shortly before the invasion, it would be said that the Turkmen population of Kirkuk was being oppressed. But for the moment, for the Turkish state, the PKK continues to be the best legitimization for its expansionist war policy.”

According to Karayılan, the existence of the PKK is not the reason that the Turkish state is attacking the Kurdish people, but the fact that the Turkish state is attacking Kurds is the reason for the PKK’s existence. “At no time did we insist on a military solution.  It is the Turkish state that is imposing armed struggle on us. It left us no other way.”

*The invasion, which began on April 23, continues for the 120th consecutive day as of today’s date. The interview with Murat Karayılan was recorded on August 13.

The full interview can be viewed in the two videos on the ANF website: https://anfenglishmobile.com/features/karayilan-the-turkish-army-is-bogged-down-54314