The PKK and Hamas: A Tale of Two Terror Camps

The PKK and Hamas: A Tale of Two Terror Camps

Redacted from excellent, more detailed article by Gerald A. Honigman

(PKK = The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK is an organization based in Turkey and Iraq. Since 1984 the PKK has been involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state, with the initial aim of achieving an independent Kurdish state, later changing it to a demand for equal rights  …)

Recently, the Turks complained about the January 31, 2018 Washington placement of Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, on a terror blacklist. Ankara has supported Hamas substantially for years now, especially since an increasingly dictatorial Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) gained ascendency in the second decade of this century.

As the turmoil in adjacent Syria and Iraq continues, Turks appear to have visions of at least partially recreating the borders of the former Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Absent Washington and Moscow’s involvement, this might already have been a done deal, with the centuries old rivalry between Ottoman Sultans and Iran’s Safavid and Qajar Shahs at play. Russia’s involvement is nothing new—both in pre-and post-Soviet days. Moscow was non-discriminatory when expanding its own imperial borders at the others’ expense.

While the AKP claims it’s not really “Islamist,” Erdogan & Co. certainly have an affinity for militant, fundamentalist Islamist groups—including ISIS and Hamas. It’s no accident that the border has been fluid for ISIS fighters moving between Turkey and Syria.

Ankara’s support for a group dedicated to the slaughter of Jews and their sole, resurrected nation (thirty-eight Israels fit into Turkey; Israel’s population is about 1/11 its size with about the same 20% mix of Arabs to Jews as Turkey’s 23 % Kurds to Turks.

Turkey has wanted to have it both ways with Israel. And Jews have let them get away with it. It’s sought economic and military ties and expected Jerusalem to help in its own matters of “internal security.”

In turn, (possibly selling its soul) Israel obtained a powerful Muslim, but non-Arab, neighbor which was not looking to have it for dinner…another place for young Israelis to visit and such. Of course, Jerusalem was expected to allow Ankara to dictate terms. Recall the Turks’ support of the MV Mavi Mamara incident in 2010, for starters. The cost has been too high…

Jerusalem has engaged in shameful behavior to assist alleged friends in the subjugation of another truly (35-40 million) stateless people, who pre-date Arabs and Turks in the area by millennia, and who are still struggling for basic human and political rights–the Kurds. While Israel has assisted them in some ways as well, Israeli intelligence and weaponry have helped Ankara in their suppression. For or a number of reasons, this must finally come to a halt.

The assorted Arab enemies which Israel faces just among “Palestinian” Arabs (most who were newcomers into the original 1920 Mandate themselves)–Fatah, Hamas, and so forth–have two goals…destruction of Israel and its Jews.

Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and latter-day Arafatians of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) play good cop “moderates” simply to milk dhimmi nations for $$$ billions while building up their own military, courtesy of Uncle Sam and others. Abbas’s dead boss’s Swiss bank accounts are legendary.

Bad cop Hamas folks are simply more honest. They get most of their gelt from Iranian mullahs and the new, would-be Turkish Sultan. Look at both cops’ websites and such in case you think there’s really a difference in their ultimate plans for Israel.

Recall  that on the overall balance sheet, an Arab state emerged after World War I on almost 80% of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine. In 1922, most of the original territory–all land east of the Jordan River–was handed over to Arab nationalism by Great Britain. So, right from the getgo, contrary to Arab storytelling (like America, not Israel, destroyed all their planes in the June ’67 war, etc.), most of the land was given over to Arab nationalism–not to Jews.

Had Arabs accepted the next 1947 partition, they would have wound up with almost 90% of the total. They rejected it, because, in Arab eyes, no one except themselves had any rights in what they call “purely Arab patrimony” and the Dar ul-Islam.

Since then, Israel (1/2 of whose Jews who are from refugee families who fled the so-called “Arab” world) has made repeated attempts to reach peace via additional so-called land-for-peace measures. Palestinian Arabs (and most others) have rejected such efforts to reach a real modus vivendi with Jewish neighbors.

Fatah, Hamas, & Co. have been engaged in continuous efforts to eradicate Israel and its Jews, and civilian targets have been the most sought after for shock value.

So, how has Ankara dealt with its alleged Jerusalem “friend’s” attempt to deal with this violence? By blaming Israel itself and expecting Jews to simply put up with it…

While Israel has dropped leaflets; made phone calls to non-combatants; gone house to house when long distance artillery and bombing would reduce risk to its own 19-year-olds on the ground; and so forth in attempts to avoid civilian casualties, when Arabs use their own women and children as human shields, this is hard to do. And when they fire at Israeli civilians from behind Arab civilians, they are committing a double war crime according to Geneva Conventions–which no one seems to care about.

Given the above and much more, it’s now time to examine problems Ankara has with another people–those whom it renamed “Mountain Turks” (guess why?), aka the Kurds.

As we’ve already seen, they predate the Turks’ arrival from central Asia by thousands of years, similar to when Arabs burst out of the Arabian Peninsula from the 7th century C.E. onwards and slaughtered, conquered, and Arabized lands and scores of millions of native peoples in all directions.

Like Jews in Israel, Kurds were there long before an Arab or Turk ever conquered their lands. Just ask the ancient Roman historians and those who came before them if you doubt this read:

Recall that roughly forty million Kurds live in the Middle East and are about 20-25% of Turkey’s population, about the same mix of Arabs to Jews in Israel. The first Kurdish nationalist revolts in the area dated from the 19th century. Others would come as well…especially after London’s betrayal.

The emergence of powerful Turkish and Iranian rulers after World War I (Ataturk and Reza Shah Pahlavi) left tens of millions of Kurds stateless in the new age of nationalism in the region. Other peoples were gaining states of their own after the collapse of empires in the Middle East and Europe, but not Kurds–a recipe for explosion, for sure.

After Great Britain won a favorable decision from the League of Nations in 1925 tying the oil of Mesopotamia’s predominately Kurdish north to the British Mandate of the same name and subsequently to the new Arab state of Iraq, promises earlier made in support of Kurdish independence were aborted, and the Brits militarily aided Arabs in squashing Kurdish dreams.

Kurds were shafted via a collusion of imperial British petroleum politics and Arab nationalism. Think of the British-led, Arab fighting force which attacked a re-born Israel in 1948, Transjordan’s Arab Legion, led by Sir John Bagot Glub, Glubb Pasha, and then see if you need to ask why Arabs refer to the birth of an independent Kurdistan as “another Israel.” After Iraq’s Arab Shi’a army, with Iran’s help, chased Kurds out of Kirkuk with American tanks and such, guess who begin pumping oil again from there? British Petroleum, BP.

Kurds have been used and abused by many players ever since—again, including  America and Israel. Turks, at times, also used them to do their own dirty work vis-à-vis Christian Armenians and Assyrians. A good place to start for some review of this might be the late, great William Safire of The New York Times’s “The Sellout of the Kurds” op-eds in the 1970s… .

As World War I came to a close, being a mere remnant of the former extensive Ottoman Empire, Ataturk’s Turkey was determined to see no further geographical losses. So, in the age of nationalism, what was there to do with millions of non-Turkic people who predated you on the land?

Well, in Turkish eyes, you could just rename and erase Kurds as a people, outlaw their culture and language, intimidate, murder, and subjugate–and so forth (note: Arabic is the second national language of Israel, Arabs have their own schools, are members of the Knesset, are free to curse Israel, side with other Arabs who wish it dead, etc.).

Kurds have frequently been “Mountain Turks” ever since. Arabs have used these same tactics towards them as well. The Kurdish scholar, Ismet Cherif Vanly’s book, The Syrian ‘Mein Kampf’ Against the Kurds (Amsterdam, 1968) speaks volumes about this.

The militant (sadly sometimes resorting to terror) Socialist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was born amid this subjugation of the Kurdish people–again, 18 to 24 million just in Turkey alone.

Unlike Arabs, with almost two dozen states (carved out largely from non-Arab peoples’ lands), Kurds remain a truly stateless people. They have suffered horrendously because of this–long before Saddam Hussein’s Arab Anfal Campaign slaughtered some two hundred thousand of them in Iraq in the 1980s. And here’s another thought…

At a time when Ankara is growing more hostile to America, threatening the closure of the American air base at Incirlik and such, think about what American bases set up in a friendly Iraqi Kurdistan (and supplying/training Kurdish tank battalions, air squadrons, etc.) might be able to do to counter not only Turkish ambitions but those of Iran’s as well.

Compare the quest of subjugated, stateless Kurds to the 22nd state Arabs are demanding at the sole state of the Jews’ expense, which would be, as we have seen, the Arabs’ second one in Palestine, not their first. Today’s Jordan has that honor.

Palaestina was the name the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, bestowed upon Judaea after the Jews’ second revolt for freedom in 135 C.E. to rub salt into the wound. It meant the land of the Philistines, the earlier non-Semitic/non-Arab invading “Sea People” from Crete.

While Erdogan’s folks support Hamas and rant against Washington placing its chief honcho on a terror watch list, it must again be asked…what compromises did Turks make with their own national competitors, such as and especially Kurds? The answer, of course, is a glaring “none”!

Unlike Hamas, the PKK was born not only out of this denial of Kurdish rights, but the attempted eradication of the Kurds’ own identity. And again, Arabs have done this to their own perceived nationalist competitors as well. Besides Kurds, how they’ve dealt with some forty million, native, pre-Arab, Kabyle people–the Imazighen/”Berbers” –comes to mind.

Whatever its bloody sins are, the PKK (and its Syrian and Iranian affiliates) has never sought destruction of Turkey nor of its people. It has merely sought rights for Kurds–not “Mountain Turks”–which Turks refuse to grant…ironically, those very same rights Ankara expects Israel to cede to those who would indeed destroy it if given half a chance.

(Hopefully, Israel will not continue to try and ingratiate its sworn enemies, and the United States, under Donald Trump and absent the American State Department, will finally know to separate its supposed friends from its real enemies.) jsk

Gerald Honigman is an educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs, has lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many anti-Israel spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in hundreds of newspapers, magazines …

To subscribe to Israel Commentary:  Send your email address to: – complete list of recent articles
Facebook: 1. Jerome S. Kaufman
2 .Israel Commentary
Twitter:  @israelcomment