Mahmood Othman: Turkey Interfering in Iraq
Gilbert Achcar kindly shares his translation of this article in al-Hayat:
OTHMAN TO AL-HAYAT: TURKEY FEARS THE SPREAD OF DEMOCRACY
Baghdad – Heba Hani, Al-Hayat, September 3, 2005
Kurdish leader Mahmood Othman [Mahmoud Osman] condemned recent statements by the Turkish Foreign Ministry about the non-recognition of the province of Kurdistan and its warning against playing with the future of Kirkuk, considering that they constitute interference in Iraq’s internal affairs and reflect Turkey’s fear from “the spread of democracy to its territory”.
Othman, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly for the Kurdish Alliance, told Al-Hayat that “the province of Kurdistan is not a state so that it could be recognized or contested by other states.” He considered the Turkish statements to be “a blatant interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, because the creation of a Kurdish province on Iraqi territory depends on the approval of all Iraqi components and constitutional legality and not on Turkey’s opinion.”
A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry had stated that his country rejects recognition of the province of Iraq’s Kurdistan, considering that there is no area called “Kurdistan.” He also said that playing with the future of Kirkuk will lead Iraq into serious conflicts. He added that Turkey’s policy with regard to Iraq is clear, that it took care of conveying it to the Iraqis, and that Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law will make it possible to resolve the problem of settlement in the city and of the recovery of usurped rights and properties.
Commenting on the Turkish statement about Kirkuk, Othman said: “The issue of Kirkuk is also part of Iraq’s internal affairs, and the Iraqi government has decided to address it on the basis of law and the approval of all communities.” He added that Ankara’s statements, which confirms its opposition to Iraq’s Kurds getting their national and political rights is due to “Turkish fears of the demand by Turkey’s Kurds, whose number is 20 million, of their legitimate rights stolen by Turkey, which also fears the spread of democracy to its territory.”
Othman said that the government of the province of Kurdistan got used to such provocative statements, the number of which increase every time there is a positive development on the Kurdish issue in Iraq.
He called on the Turkish government to exercise the ways of dialogue with its Kurds without resorting to violence, before interfering in the affairs of Iraq’s Kurds, as was announced previously by the Turkish Prime Minister when he acknowledged the existence of problems between his government and the Kurds that should be attended.
He added that Turkey had wanted to strike at the oppositional “Kurdistani Workers Party” (PKK) in the Iraqi-Turkish border area, but US forces in Iraq objected to that: “Iraqi Kurdish leaders called on Turkey to stop the violence against its Kurds, issue an amnesty for the PKK, and recognize the national and political rights of the Kurds in order to avoid further bloodshed, but it was to no avail.”
Othman asserted that Turkey tries also indirectly to foster crises with the two (Iraqi) Kurdish parties (the National Union led by Jalal Talabani and the Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani), this having led previously to clashes between (Iraqi) Kurdish peshmerga forces and the PKK in the 1990’s.
He said that “present Kurdish leaders” do not see any problem in the presence of oppositionists to the government of Turkey near its territory “even if they are Kurds,” adding that the province of Kurdistan is convinced that they are political refugees and displaced persons and that their presence on the border is due to the repressive Turkish policies.
He ended by saying that Iraq, with its Arabs and Kurds, tries to pursue a policy of good-neighborhood and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state, and it expects regional states to treat it likewise, adding that the ball is in Turkey’s camp and it can decide whether it wants to throw it in the field of violence or peace on the issue of Turkey’s Kurds.