What is the role of the US in helping Turkey suppress the Kurds?
It is common knowledge among Kurdish communities that Turkey’s shining reputation as a moderate Middle Eastern democracy is false, and that Turkey’s suppression of its Kurdish population is accompanied by censorship, unfair detainment, and brutality. The United States also has a hypocritical global reputation: claiming to be the world’s bastion of human rights, the US often engages in imperialist campaigns that have ended the lives of millions of innocent civilians.
Like attracts like. The US, to protect its own interests, provides $21 billion in economic and military aid to Turkey. The Roboski massacre, which killed 38 civilian Kurds almost exactly a year ago, was the direct result of a US Predator Drone and the relationship between American intelligence officials and Turkey. The article from the Washington Post goes on to say, “The Obama administration has moved to expand cooperation—by stepping up intelligence sharing and by supporting Turkey’s request to buy armed and unarmed U.S. drones to give the Turks full control.”
The repercussions of an increased intelligence relationship between Turkey and the US are dangerous. Should the US give Turkey the complete access it wants to its military intelligence services, and drones, Turkey could turn turn its Kurdish battlegrounds into what Pakistan is for the US, a constant hum of drones and risk of sudden death based on vague accusations of “terrorism”.
Turkey is incredibly valuable to the US, as both a military and economic ally. By continuing its process of economic liberalization, the US sees valuable markets in Turkey. And by continuing to pretend to be the watchdog of the Middle East, the US sees a valuable military partner who, with few exceptions, will work to defend US stability and interests.
The situation in Syria has only served to further marry the US and Turkey together as military allies by “intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes.” As a NATO member, Turkey is well suited to serve as the US’s arm in making sure that the Syrian conflict is controlled. However, by assigning Turkey this role, Turkey also enjoys the added perk of suppressing the rising Kurdish presence in Syria. Turkey has extended formal support to the Free Syrian Army, allowing them to be based in Turkey and extending military aid. As the conflict in Syria continues and the situation becomes increasingly violent, Islamist groups with little accountability to FSA overhead have attacked Kurdish areas. Turkey’s porous border into Syria has done nothing to help the situation for Syria’s Kurds, and leaves a wide door for future military activities on Syrian Kurdish territory.
The continued US support to Turkey acts in essence as a stamp of approval to Turkish actions in the region and oppression against the Kurds. The US pays little more than lip service to its concern about things like Turkey’s detainment of journalists, and as long as its aid supply is not affected, Turkey has little motivation to reform. Considering the US’s stance towards Turkey, the US has a direct hand in and responsibility for the oppression of Kurds in Turkey.