PEACE IN KURDISTAN

Statement on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh

The clashes that started on 26 September with the armed forces of Azerbaijan against Armenia with Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh), escalated over the weekend of 3-4 October with major population centres being shelled and a reported death toll of at least 240 people, although many more people may have been killed. The Minsk Group of France, Russia and the US, that oversaw attempts to resolve the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabagh in 1992 to 1994, has called for an immediate ceasefire. Turkish President Erdogan rejected any ceasefire saying, ‘Turkish people stand with their Azeri brothers with all our means. The time has come for the regional crisis that started with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabagh to be put to an end. Once Armenia leaves the territory it is occupying, the region will return to peace and harmony.’ Turkey has committed mercenary forces drawn from those it employs in Syria, drones and F-16 fighter jets to the conflict on the side of Azerbaijan. The Kurdish people, struggling for self-determination in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, warned of the danger that the ruling parties in Turkey presented. The AKP/MHP government and Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman ambitions manifestly threaten the entire Middle East, Caucasus and Mediterranean regions.

Turkey has sent its army into Syria and Iraq; it daily bombs these countries in its war against the Kurds. In 2015 Turkey agreed to construct a military base in Qatar. Two years later Turkey opened a military base in Somalia. In January 2018, Turkish forces attacked and occupied Afrin, in Rojava in northern Syria. The Turkish state intends to occupy and build a buffer zone from Syria’s border with Lebanon to Iraq’s border with Iran. In November 2019, the Libyan Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, signed two agreements with Turkey. Turkey has sent mercenary militia from Syria to Libya and weapons, including drones, to join in the fighting in that country where it is opposed by France, Russia and Egypt, among others. Additionally, under the new agreements, the Turkish state claims maritime territory from its southern coast up to Libya’s northeast coast. Turkish vessels have sailed into waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece, searching for natural gas reserves, clashing with Greek vessels and prompting an escalation of militarism in the east Mediterranean, with French warships warning Turkey off. Now Turkey has stepped into the tensions in the Caucasus, fanning the flames. Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar claims a national affinity between Turkey and Azerbaijan justifies this belligerence: ‘Ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan are based on ‘two states one nation’ principle.  We are always together, on good days and bad. We are on the side of our Azeri brothers in defence of their homeland.’

Azerbaijan claims Nagorno-Karabagh constitutes about 20% of its territory and that it has been illegally occupied by separatist Armenians and backed by neighbouring Armenia. Azerbaijan is Turkic-speaking and primarily Muslim. Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, is the oil centre of the Caspian basin and hosts multinational corporations such as BP. Armenia is mainly Christian. Nagorno-Karabagh is historically Armenian by ethnicity. In 1923 Azerbaijan was given Upper Nagorno-Karabagh. A petition for the reunification of Nagorno-Karabagh with Armenia was submitted by local residents to the Soviet state in 1963. Ever since, Armenia has favoured reunification and Azerbaijan has opposed it. In 1968 there was fighting between Armenians and Azeris in Nagorno-Karabagh’s capital Stepanakert (Khankendi to Azerbaijan).

In 1988 80% of Nagorno-Karabakh’s electorate voted to join Armenia. Geographically, it lies close to the Armenian border. Since 1988, with the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, mass protests in Soviet Armenia contested the sovereignty of Nagorno-Karabagh. In September 1991, a referendum saw Armenia vote for separation from the Soviet Union; Nagorno-Karabagh also voted for independence. Azerbaijan imposed an economic and military blockade of landlocked Armenia and launched pogroms against Armenians in Baku and Sumgait, as well as a military campaign to remove Armenians from Nagorno-Karabagh. Armenian volunteers responded and pushed the attacking forces back. In September 1993 Azerbaijan tightened the blockade of Armenia, causing a steep fall in living standards. Iran reacted by supplying Armenia and trade between the two countries greatly increased. The second largest ethic group in Iran is Azeri. Iran’s ruling groups are very wary of the pan-Turkic posture of the AKP-MHP/Erdogan government in Turkey and its neo-Ottoman ambitions.

Armenia supports the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabagh to self-determination or independence. Azerbaijan does not respect this right and supporting this intransigence is the determination of the Turkish government to expand its regional influence. Azerbaijan and Turkey describe the indigenous population of Nagorno-Karabagh as people who have ‘occupied’ the territory. Turkey uses precisely the same formulation to justify it occupation of Syria and Iraq and its attempted forced removal of the Kurds from these lands that they have lived in for millennia. Turkey has become an international pariah. It threatens neighbouring countries and Europe with terrorists that it has recruited. It claims lands from which Ottoman armies were evicted over a century ago. President Erdogan and his government could not mount this escalating threat without arms supplies from Europe and the US, and without their diplomatic collusion in sustaining the war on the Kurds, denying elementary democratic and human rights to these people by brute force for a hundred years.

Peace in Kurdistan supports the right of Nagorno-Karabagh to self-determination and opposes Turkey’s military intervention in the Caucasus.

6 October 2020      

 

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: [email protected]

https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903

 

 

Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor,  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist,  Steve Sweeney, journalist,  Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.

 

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: [email protected]

https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903

 

 

Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor,  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist,  Steve Sweeney, journalist,  Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.