Defense minister, military chiefs: Turkey has killed, “neutralized”over 18,000 Kurds in six years

Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, recently toured a military base in his nation’s southeast where most of Turkey’s 20 million Kurds live.

He was joined at the base in Malatya by the chiefs of the three main branches of Turkey’s armed forces: Land Forces Commander General Ümit Dündar, Naval Forces Admiral Adnan Özbal and Air Forces Commander General Hasan Küçükakyüz.

Malatya is also home to the Kürecik Radar Station, which NATO established in 2012 as part of its and the U.S.’s global missile shield program. It hosts an Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2)/Forward-Based X-Band Transportable (FBX-T) installation with its command center at the Diyarbakır Air Base in the capital of Turkish Kurdistan.

The Turkish government and its armed forces have been waging a counterinsurgency war against the secular Kurdistan Workers’ Party in that part of the nation since 1978, the longest such war in the world.

In the past two decades Turkey has expanded the now 43-year campaign into Iraq and Syria, in flagrant violation of international law and the national sovereignty of the two Middle East nations. And it has done so with complete impunity.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, far from in any manner expressing objections to its second-largest member state engaging in such naked transborder aggression, celebrates Turkey as playing the key role in “stabilizing our southern neighbourhood” in the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the June 14 NATO summit. The summit’s communiqué praised Turkey for its “humanitarian” role in the ongoing Syrian crisis.

Turkey has already succeeded in having NATO invoke its Article 4 for consultation and intervention four times: against Iraq in 2003 and against Syria twice in 2012 and once in 2020. NATO deployed Patriot missile batteries to Turkey in 1991, 2003 and 2012. They remain there to this day, manned by U.S., German and Dutch military personnel.

There has even been discussion over the past five years of activating Article 5 at Turkey’s request. NATO moved its Land Command to Turkey in 2012 and this year handed command of its Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to the nation.

While flanked by his armed forces’ top commanders, yesterday Defense Minister Akar boasted of the Turkish military “neutralizing” over 18,000 “terrorists” (Kurds) since July 24, 2015. A news report said that the term neutralize is generally used to describe Kurds killed and captured as well as those who have surrendered, though it’s a safe assumption that the 18,000 were overwhelmingly killed, as it is that they were killed outside Turkey.

He first held video conferences with “commanding officers of military contingents stationed within and beyond Turkey’s borders,” then addressed troops at the base in Malatya.

The defense chief mentioned that “at least 18,220” Kurds had been killed in that period and 1,366 so far this year, adding, “No one should doubt that our struggle will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized.”

He bragged of three military offensives in Syria in recent years – in 2016, 2018 and 2019 – though he condemned his American NATO ally for supporting the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the country.

Akar’s visit to a Turkish military base in Iraq earlier this year – one it maintains in defiance of the Iraqi government – prompted Iraq to summon the Turkish ambassador for talks. Much as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reading of a poem in Azerbaijan’s “victory” celebration (for the “Great Patriotic War” onslaught against tiny Nagorno-Karabakh) last December accusing Iran and Russia of stealing Azerbaijani land led to Iran summoning the Turkish ambassador to its country.

When Erdoğan was at this month’s NATO summit, he stated, he met with the presidents, prime ministers and chancellors of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Spain, and by his own account presented each of them with a book titled “Turkey’s Fight Against Terrorism.” Turkey’s Daily Sabah reported the volume was “highly welcomed” by among others U.S. President Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

NATO and its respective member states are complicit in Turkey’s wars in Iraq and Syria.

Shortly before the NATO summit Defense Minister Akar presided over the opening of the new NATO Maritime Security Center of Excellence in Istanbul and boasted of his nation having the second-largest military in the bloc, then tried to enlist NATO’s support for the war against the Kurds in these words:

“Turkey has repeatedly called on its allies to fight together against the YPG [People’s Protection Units]/PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and Daesh terrorist organizations in northern Syria, which threaten our national security and regional stability.”

A few days later his words were echoed by Erdoğan in referring to his NATO allies: “We expect them to respect our country’s sovereign rights and security sensitivities. We want them to display solidarity, which is a necessity of the spirit of an alliance.”

The Turkish defense minister was also part of a delegation that visited Libya in May, one that included Turkey’s foreign minister, chief of the general staff and director of national intelligence. That visit marked Libya as a Turkish military colony. Turkey is the only foreign nation with troops in the war-torn country and the only one that will be allowed to deploy them there. As though NATO’s seven-month air war against Libya a decade ago was designed to allow Turkey to play the role it is now.

The world sits back in stuporous self-absorption as 18,000 Kurds are killed in Turkey’s “anti-terrorist” war in the Middle East. With the full approval and assistance of NATO.