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The Kobani verdicts: dissecting a political trial

The Kobani verdicts: dissecting a political trial


political case: Kobani

Like the Gezi trial, the Kobani case is one of the political trials that could potentially be overturned if the political climate changed, similar to how the Ergenekon trial series was dismissed when the political environment changed.

Ankara's 22nd High Criminal Court handed down heavy sentences during Kobani's trial on May 16. The most notable are the 42-year prison sentence against Selahattin Demirta and the 30-year prison sentence against Figen Yksekda, both co-chairs of the HDP. at the time. Their convictions naturally made the headlines.

Like the Gezi trial, the Kobani case is one of the political trials that could potentially be overturned if the political climate changed, similar to how the Ergenekon trial series was dismissed when the political environment changed. This affair is important because of its link with the Kurdish question and with the PKK, because of its causes and its political effects. However, people remain imprisoned and lives are disrupted.

When the verdicts were announced, Sr. Sreyya nder, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and member of the DEM party, chaired the parliamentary session. In the Kobani case, the prosecution had requested 38 aggravated prison sentences against him. Nder's acquittal verdict had not yet been read, as the announcements were made in alphabetical order and it took almost 2 hours for the announcements to be completed. When the verdicts were announced, DEM party deputies chanted slogans of support for their colleagues and protested against these decisions.

nder: The dialogue process is criminalized

Nder reacted strongly when Mehmet Ali Elebi, a former Ergenekon prisoner brought to Parliament by the CHP, with a very problematic decision, and who later joined the AKP, waved his finger at him and told him to “know its place”.

Nder was a key figure in the “dialogue process” initiated in 2012 by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan, following the instructions of Hakan Fidan, then undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), involving PKK leader Abdullah Calan in Imrali prison. Despite health problems and his fear of flying, he frequently traveled between Ankara, Diyarbakr and Erbil with state approval. The violent events of October 6–8 were only stopped when he carried Calan's message to Diyarbakr with state permission. Today, if he is still a parliamentarian with an aneurysm in his cerebral arteries and a tumor in his pancreas, it is because of this time.

A visibly saddened Nder said from the parliamentary rostrum that the Kobani trial verdict “criminalizes the dialogue process” and suggested that it could be seen as an indictment against the AKP in the future if the political climate was changing. This statement was recorded in the parliamentary minutes. He then closed the session by sending “his greetings to my friends in prison”.

From here to now

When Erdoan initiated the dialogue process with the PKK in 2012, the Syrian civil war was beginning to affect the region. Ankara hoped that this dialogue would strengthen internal and border security. If common ground could be found, a buffer zone could be established along the border with the PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK, thereby preventing the war from spreading to Turkey.

With the cooperation of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, the Free Syrian Army, composed primarily of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, was trained and armed in Syria.

In response, Bashar al-Assad released Al-Qaeda members from prisons to show “the West” what the alternative to his regime would be. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was already divided, and with this new development, a new actor called ISIS emerged. in early 2013 and attracted not only Al-Qaeda but also the Muslim Brotherhood.

Neither Turkey nor other countries have fully understood the threat posed by ISIS, viewing it as just another jihadist group.

The Kobané crisis

At the same time, indirect dialogue with the PKK via the HDP and MIT continues. By Nowruz 2013, it looked like a deal was within reach. At that time, ISIS was still not considered a major threat.

When ISIS stormed the consulate general in Mosul, Iraq and took 49 people hostage, Ankara was caught off guard. In 2014, with MIT focused on rescuing hostages, Erdoan took office as president on August 28, replacing Abdullah Gl.

Simultaneously, ISIS was advancing towards Kobani (Ayn El Arab), near the Turkish town of Suru. The city had fallen to the PYD during the civil war. PYD leader Salih Muslim, who had already been warmly welcomed in Ankara, requested arms assistance from Turkey to defend Kobani against ISIS. Demirta also urged Turkey to support the PYD in Kobani.

A turning point in American relations

In September, a new wave of refugees began flowing into Turkey via the Kobani-Suru route. The ISIS hostages were rescued on September 20 thanks to the efforts of MIT. However, Turkey had previously refrained from joining the US-led coalition against ISIS. The protests of October 6 and 8, 2014, which left 64 dead and 682 injured, broke out in the Sur district of Diyarbakr due to tensions related to Kobani.

Demirta's call to “support Sur” was cited in his sentencing. These events ended with Calan's message, delivered to Diyarbakr by Sr Sreyya nder, as I mentioned.

On October 20, US President Barack Obama called President Erdoan will announce American arms aid to Kobani. Turkey then allowed KDP peshmerga forces to cross its borders in support of Kobani.

The situation in Kobani was a major factor in the US decision to support the PKK's Syrian branch, the PYD, and its armed wing, the YPG, rather than its NATO ally Turkey, in the fight against EI.




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