Burn: Turkey’s Bombardment of Kandil Mountain

While the world is busy with the war in Libya and NATO’s daily bombardment of Tripoli, here in Iraqi Kurdistan, a member of NATO, Turkey, is busy bombarding villages and roads in and around Kandil mountains in the Kurdistan region.  Today is the fourth day of the bombardment by Turkey, their target supposedly are PKK guerrilla fighters based in Kandil mountains, yet many casualties  among the civilian, just two days ago, a family of seven were killed while in a car heading to their farm, never getting there.  Since the bombardment has started, almost all the civilian populations has left the villages in Kandil, most of them now living in refugee camps, all their belonging, farms, cattle and houses are destroyed or are left without a care.
It was while talking about this with a friend that the question rose “Why is Turkey targeting Villages, farms, cattle, Livelihood of the villager, and the civilian population itself more than the PKK fighters?” The answer is very simple: For decades Turkey has been fighting PKK without any success, just bombarding PKK fighters and targets are not enough to win a war, now a new policy , with the new military commanders in Ankara showing their hand: The plan  is to make the population in Kandil (which is the supply lifeline to the fighter) turn against them by blaming them for their misery, and if they can’t success on that, they must kill that lifeline by making the Kandil region a no man land, no village, no civilian population, no supply line, and therefore no lifeline for the PKK. Turkey has done similar tactic in the mid 90s in the Kurdish region of Turkey, but it is the first time they target the civilian population in such a large scale in Iraqi Kurdistan.

I told my friend that Turkey’s recent action reminded me of the film, Burn (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1969) and especially of Marlon Brando’s character in the film. Brando play a Sir William Walker, British colonialist on a mission to a Caribbean country, sent by Royal Sugar Company to stop a revolt against the British empire and guarantee the sugar for her majesty, the Queen’s cup of tea. After a bitter fight and many casualties with the  guerrillas , he comes to the conclusion that the only way to defeat the rebellion is by cutting their supply lifeline, therefore he changes the tactic, instead of fighting the rebel, he take the fight to the civilian,  torching every village in the rebel’s territory area and massacring the civilian, then he wait and wait, for time is on his side. And behold, the rebellion is no more, without the lifeline the rebellion stop. For the line of supply are essential for any guerrilla struggle, and  for the lines of supply to pass through, it is necessary to have a series of houses, roads, villages and above all, civilian population.

What would Sir William Walker say about Turkey’s tactic and what would his advise be to the new Turkish Military Generals in Ankara? Just imagine he is sitting with them on a table, over a map and explaining how to conquer the PKK: “We must realize, gentlemen, that if we are to succeed in eliminating PKK, it is not because we’re better than they are, or that we’re braver than them, it’s simply because we have more arms, high-tech weaponry and more men than they have. We must also realize that the our soldier either fights to earn his pay or because his country forces him to do so. But the guerrilla, on the other hand, fights for an idea and therefore he is able to produce 20, 30, 50 times as much energy making them seem stronger. What does a guerrilla have to lose except his life? Whereas a soldier have a lot to lose: Wife, children, lover, house, career, savings, personal pleasures and private aspirations, that is the way of life and moral of men. Let us say that PKK has 5000 men, arms, ammunition but no high-tech weaponry. Turkey is a member of NATO, has a large army, modern arms and equipment, and yet, in decades, this military has not been able to defeat PKK. Why? Why? Because their bases are on the Kandil Mountains. And on Kandil Mountains, the possibility of survival is not ideal, few and no major route, yet, it is here that the guerrillas has made the headquarters. You see, up here, on the peaks of these mountains there are a handful of small villages. Being on the border, these people are destitute, they have always been the victims of political arm conflict in the region. Government services are few, they haven’s much to lose either, expect their livelihood, houses, farms and lives. They help the guerrillas, they are their hope. These villagers are the roots on which the guerrillas survive. They must be cut, and we have to cut them in order to kill the lifeline to the PKK”.

* Karzan Kardozi is a a cinephile currently residing in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq. After finishing Film School in the States and back in Sulaimaniyah he started the blog http://themovingsilent.wordpress.com/


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