The meaning of Turkey's reaction to the independence referendum

It seems that the referendum, which the Barzani-led Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) insisted on holding despite the risk of facing opposition from all its neighbors, will have major implications on regional and global politics. It is important to note that this referendum already took place as a reflection of the same global and regional politics. I had said that insistence on this step despite the opposition from many regional and global players stemmed from the fact that those who seemed to oppose it were not honest and that Barzani relied on their clandestine encouragement. He probably figured out that this secretly-promised support could keep him alive despite knowing what could happen to him when he took this step. However, sociology and geography renders the secession which Barzani dreamed of and on which he held the referendum impossible. It has nothing to do with whether or not Kurds have the right to establish a state. In fact, this geography has been telling us for a century about the mistake of establishing a state on an ethnic basis in the region. It is obvious to what sort of a point we have been brought to after the states that were based on the Sykes-Picot concept and that were imposed on us after World War I. We had to overcome this concept and at the very least Turkey recently put forth an effort to overcome it. By describing its internal diversity as wealth, Turkey has greatly moved away from this concept and recognized Kurds and introduced a citizenship principle in which all ethnic elements can benefit equally from all the rights. Today, Kurds are spread all over Turkey as they have all the rights enjoyed by Turks or any other ethnic element in Turkey. This prevalence is a consequence of the fact that Kurds are not subjected to any discrimination in their right to travel, education, settlement or property. They can benefit from these rights like everyone else. Trying to assign any geographical region to an ethnic group now would be a great injustice and cruelty to the 80 million people living in Turkey, including Kurds. Perhaps Kurds did not have the same comfort in Iraq’s de facto situation, but the conditions to eliminate this were beginning to be formed, and a broad horizon to overcome the divisive, separatist frame imposed on us in Turkey 100 years ago was initiated. The Kurdish autonomous government has gained a high level of representation on behalf of Kurds in Iraq with the advantages they have achieved in the process. Nobody would have objected to these advantages as the discriminatory policies from the past justified a kind of positive discrimination. However, the move of the independence referendum means going back a hundred years, instead of a more futuristic, more unifying, infusive, modern and equal citizenship horizon opened in front of the communities of the region. The framework that was set a century ago is an invasive imperialist framework that somehow separates the people of region, divides territories, and destroys countries. Trying to revive this shackle-like framework, rather than trying to break and overcome it together, will not benefit anyone. The fact that the Kurdistan map used in referendum campaigns is not limited only to Iraqi Kurdistan and covers the territories of four countries shows how right Turkey's reaction is. This referendum cannot be just even if it were to concern Iraq alone. It also targets Turkey’s sovereignty and security, raising the country’s reaction. It has become imperative for Turkey to remind this structure, which voices a claim for independence, of its borders. When Turkey closes its doors and valves, it has no opportunity to survive on its own – which is a call to think on the actuality of this claim for independence. Ömer Lekesiz, a colleague of ours, in his column yesterday wrote: Mehmet Akif Ersoy, a distinguished journalist who has been watching the referendum process in KRG since the beginning, shared on social media: “We are in Erbil. Our driver voted ‘yes.’ He says if things get complicated, he will go to Turkey with his wife and children.” Isn’t this anecdote alone enough to show that the Kurds’ homeland is Turkey? Kurds don’t have to shoulder the rightful reaction displayed against Barzani in this process. If they do, it is an unnecessary susceptibility. The reaction to the referendum is never aimed at Kurds or the possibility that Kurds would achieve something, but their irresponsible attitude in attracting imperialist interventions to these territories which belong to all of us and in which we live in all together. After all, we have to shield against all kinds of oppression that target Kurds for being Kurds, Arabs for being Arabs or any other ethnic group for being that ethnic group. Indeed, if this referendum brings losses to any of the people in the region, it means it brings more losses for Kurds.