Sweden, Turkey and NATO: the thorny Kurdish issue

Her name is Amineh Kakabaveh. She is a former peshmerga, she was an Iranian Kurdish fighter at the age of 13… As an independent member of the Swedish parliament, she uses her voice to put pressure on the Swedish government not to back down blackmailed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan : His voice is decisive for the social democratic minority government.

Amineh Kakabaveh is a woman in a hurry, a bundle of energy.

The forty-year-old cheers us on when she greets us between two sessions in the Swedish Parliament, profusely apologizes for being late and leads us through the cafeteria at a good pace to fill two glasses of water. into a large room where our interview will take place.

It is the most beautiful room where the President of Parliament holds his meetingsshe starts and hugs the spot of the gaze with a big smile.

Amineh Kakabaveh, Independent MPs, from left. Her journey as a refugee briefly took her to Turkey before arriving in Sweden in 1992.

Photo: Radio Canada / Anyck Béraud

Amineh Kakabaveh is one of around 100,000 Kurds living in Sweden. Her smile turns mocking as she affirms that she represents everything Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hates.

She claims it crazy to see a woman here, a kurd, a socialist, defending the rights of her community and the rights of the person. In this chamber she entered 14 years ago. At that time it was under the banner of left party (The Left Party).

For President Erdogan, the Swedish parliament is a terrorist den, which Stockholm strenuously denies.

And among other things, he is asking for Sweden to show that it shares his security concerns and to confirm its membership in theNatothe Turkish government is returning to the accusation that it has so far rejected extradition requests for people suspected of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish state has been at war with this separatist party for decades. He thinks they’re a terrorist organization, just like Sweden, by the way. The insurgency of the Kurdish armed movement and its repression by the authorities have claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

nervousness

Swedish MP Amineh Kakabaveh states that the list of people requested from Sweden includes Kurds, but also Turks: parliamentarians, authors or even reporters. This list is particularly circulating in the media.

There is great concern, for example among the politicized Kurds, assures Kurdo Baksi. Sitting in front of a very strong and sweet tea, the Kurdish writer and journalist, originally from Batman (south-eastern Turkey), explains that he often receives calls from friends who are concerned whether their name is on the list or not.

Mr. Baksi asks us not to reveal the restaurant where this interview took place for fear of reprisals against the owners while on holiday in Turkey.

It is said that God created two things for the Kurds : Internet and Sweden. »

A quote from Kurdo Baksi, Kurdish writer and journalist

He is one of the signers of an open letter asking Sweden to do so do not fall in which to catch of the Turkish President. He wants the country to remain a country of asylum for the Kurds.

Kurdo Baksi is a Kurdish writer and journalist.

Photo: Radio Canada / Anyck Béraud

Many experts find it difficult to imagine how Stockholm could accept extraditions to Turkey. A decision that is up to the courts anyway.

Political opponents who have fled to Sweden are also being targeted by Ankara

Lenent Kenez escaped extradition to Turkey. The Supreme Court of Sweden rejected this request on the grounds that his journalistic activities did not constitute a criminal offence.

Abdullah Bozkurt was attacked near his home in Stockholm. The police investigations are ongoing.

The two men were fully expecting to find their names in the list of people claimed by Ankara.

You are very critical of President Erdogan with your publication Nordic monitor since they fled to Sweden.

In addition, the two journalists worked in the media when they were in Turkey, if not at least sympathized with the movement of the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lived in exile for years.

The Turkish government accuses this movement of fueling the attempted coup of 2016: The Gülenists were purged with arrests and closures.

Especially since Sweden has long excelled at defending rights, democracy and gender equality. This is what Paul Levin reminds us of. He is director of the Institute of Turkology at Stockholm University.

OTAN. Il lui a fallu rassurer les critiques: entrer dans l’Alliance n’implique pas de sacrifier ses valeurs fondamentales. C’est une position difficile”,”text”:”Et le gouvernement social-démocrate vient juste d’effectuer une difficile volte-face sur l’entrée dans l’OTAN. Il lui a fallu rassurer les critiques: entrer dans l’Alliance n’implique pas de sacrifier ses valeurs fondamentales. C’est une position difficile”}}”>And the social-democratic government has just made a difficult U-turn when moving inNato. He had to reassure the critics: Joining the alliance does not mean sacrificing its core values. It’s a difficult positionadds the professor.

Paul Levin in his office at the Department of Turkic Studies at Stockholm University

Photo: Radio Canada / Anyck Béraud

Observers and opponents of the Turkish head of state argue that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using Sweden’s application for membershipNato as a bargaining chip for the most modern weapons from the USA.

In reality, there are many drawers for negotiations, explains Dorothée Schmid, head of the Turkey and Middle East program at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. She has just returned (Wednesday, June 15) from Ankara.

The researcher states that in Turkey there is a lot of talk about this showdown in which Sweden and Finland joinNato. She adds that for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has formed an alliance with a nationalist party, : c’est quelque chose pour son électorat nationaliste”,”text”:”tout ce qui peut donner à voir que la Turquie se comporte comme un pays fort, comme un pays qui résiste ou qui impose ses vues à ses alliés: c’est quelque chose pour son électorat nationaliste”}}”>anything that can show Turkey behaving like a strong country, like a country that resists or imposes its views on its allies: it’s something for its nationalist constituency.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Photo: via Reuters/SPUTNIK

A year before the elections, the Turkish president is trying to revive his popularity at half-mast.

The challenge of the PKK

Dorothée Schmid warns against underestimating the importance of the files PKK. This is a real case for the Turks.

Professor Paul Levin in Stockholm agrees. He believes this worries a majority of Turks, beyond President Erdogan’s supporters and party.

OTAN, pour qu’ils cessent de soutenir les milices kurdes en Syrie et pour qu’ils arrêtent de leur fournir des armes qui terminent aux mains de combattants du PKK en Turquie. Et d’une certaine façon, on peut comprendre les inquiétudes des Turcs. Jusqu’à présent, ils n’ont pas obtenu gain de cause, cette fois ils en ont l’occasion, grâce à leur droit de veto”,”text”:”L’ensemble de l’appareil sécuritaire turc qui a tenté à plusieurs reprises de faire pression sur les alliés de l’OTAN, pour qu’ils cessent de soutenir les milices kurdes en Syrie et pour qu’ils arrêtent de leur fournir des armes qui terminent aux mains de combattants du PKK en Turquie. Et d’une certaine façon, on peut comprendre les inquiétudes des Turcs. Jusqu’à présent, ils n’ont pas obtenu gain de cause, cette fois ils en ont l’occasion, grâce à leur droit de veto”}}”>The entire Turkish security apparatus, which has repeatedly tried to put pressure on the alliesNatoto stop supporting the Kurdish militias in Syria and to stop supplying them with weapons that end up in the hands of US militants PKK in Turkey. And in a way you can understand the concerns of the Turks. So far they haven’t won their case, this time they have the opportunity thanks to their veto powerexplains the Swedish expert on Turkish issues.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson

Photo: via Reuters/TT NEWS AGENCY

On June 13, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson wanted to partially address Ankara’s security concerns. A stricter anti-terror law will apply from July.

And when Sweden becomes a memberNatothen the arms embargo imposed on Turkey after an attack on Kurdish militias in Syria in 2019 could be revised.

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats’ support for the People’s Defense Units (YPG), Kurdish militias involved in defeating the Islamic State armed group in Syria, angers Ankara. Turkey believes that these fighters pose a threat to its security due to its ties with Turkey PKK, and that they are also a terrorist organization. The Turkish government is therefore calling on Sweden, among other things, to sever all ties with these Kurdish militias if it wants to have a chance of joiningNato.

For independent MP Amineh Kakabaveh, that would cross a red line.

My message is very clear: if the government fails the Kurds, they will definitely lose my vote until the next election. »

A quote from -Amineh Kakabaveh, Kurdish and Swedish MPs

Thanks to his decisive vote, the Social Democrats came to power in Sweden. In exchange for a promise to increase cooperation with these militias through the political wing of these fighters.

Amineh Kakavaveh has not only made friends with his position. This earned her accusations of holding the Swedish government hostage for personal gain.

The independent MP does not want to remain silent. If it ever defeats Sweden’s membershipNato, she does not care. In any case, she is opposed to her country rubbing shoulders with Turkey in this military alliance.

The Swedish Parliament and Royal Palace in Stockholm.

Photo: Radio Canada / Anyck Béraud

Dorothee Schmid, theIFRI, stresses that the only merit of the Turkish veto is to make people think about NATO enlargement. She clarifies her thoughts: : c’est quelque chose qui doit être pesé. En réalité, on ne peut pas considérer que c’est une chose qui se fait à la légère”,”text”:”ce qui est intéressant dans ce processus, c’est que ça nous démontre en fait que l’adhésion précipitée de deux pays, qui ont une culture de neutralité, à une alliance militaire dans un contexte de guerre: c’est quelque chose qui doit être pesé. En réalité, on ne peut pas considérer que c’est une chose qui se fait à la légère”}}”>The interesting thing about this process is that it actually shows us that the hasty entry of two countries that have a culture of neutrality into a military alliance in a war context is something that needs to be weighed. In reality, we cannot assume that this is something to be taken lightly.

As for the Kurdish question as such, the researcher believes that the solution will not be military and that the issue must be resolved politically. She points out that the PKK is a % à 20% de la population)”,”text”:”manifestation extrémiste d’une lutte pour les droits des Kurdes en Turquie (15% à 20% de la population)”}}”>extremist manifestation of a struggle for Kurdish rights in Turkey (15% to 20% of the population). The problem, adds Dorothée Schmid, is that OTAN“,”text”:”le président Erdogan qualifie pratiquement tous les Kurdes de terroristes […] et ça, c’est un vrai problème qui ne sera pas résolu par un veto à l’entrée de la Suède et de la Finlande dans l’OTAN”}}”>President Erdogan calls almost all Kurds terrorists […] and that is a real problem that cannot be solved by vetoing the accession of Sweden and FinlandNatocloses them.

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